What you need to know:
- Jeptoo admits that this year’s London Marathon will be competitive and different from the previous events due to the Covid-19 safety measures that have been introduced that will see athletes running in a loop.
- Jeptoo, 36, said the previous London route was enjoyable to run on but with the course adjusted this year results may be different.
The women’s category of this years’ London marathon will once again feature some of the fastest marathon runners in the world with no less than five who have run sub 2 hours 20 minutes.
Today we bring you the story of the 2013 champion Priscah Jeptoo, who faced another top notch field on the day in London.
Nation Sport caught up with Jeptoo in her 2-Running Club training camp in Kapsabet as she was going about what she does best -- run.
So how did she beat the storied field that was then considered the best ever assembled and included her compatriots Edna Kiplagat, Florence Kiplagat and the Ethiopian duo Meselech Melkamu and Atsede Baysa of Ethiopia?
She reveals she had trained very well and was in top shape even though she had the butterflies at the start of the race.
When she dropped highly fancied Edna in the second half of the race she knew this was her race to lose.
Jeptoo admits that this year’s London Marathon will be competitive and different from the previous events due to the Covid-19 safety measures that have been introduced that will see athletes running in a loop.
Jeptoo, 36, said the previous London route was enjoyable to run on but with the course adjusted this year results may be different.
She said that many road races use the same familiar city route that fans are familiar with and come out in large numbers to cheer the runners.
And the fans make a huge difference giving the runners a second wind.
No less than the greatest marathon runner of all time Eliud Kipchoge has talked about the importance of the fans on the road.
When he attempted to run under the mythical 2 hours in Monza, Italy on May 6, 2017 there were no fans on the course as he came up just short in 2:00:25.
He asked for fans in his second under 2 hours run attempt in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria, on October 12 last year. And what do you know, he become the first man to run a marathon under two hours in an astonishing time of 1:59:40.
Said Jeptoo: “It’s so nice when you are running and the fans keep cheering you which motivates one to perform even better. This year it will be different and this might affect some of the athletes. I personally get a boost from the fans.
“However, athletes do adjust to the circumstances and it will come down to what pace is set and who can follow,” said Jeptoo.
She however added that running in a loop brought a new twist to the race and it all depended on how the runners adapted.
In 2012, Jeptoo made her debut at the London Marathon clocking 2:20:14 to finish third behind compatriots Mary Keitany and Edna Kiplagat who were first and second respectively.
Encouraged, Jeptoo made her second attempt on the streets if London in 2013.
That year she was facing almost the same line up as the previous year and, boy, was the girl not ready to do battle on the roads of Europe’s financial capital.
“I had prepared well and I was determined to win after finishing third the previous year. It was a tough battle and I remember getting nervous because I knew I was competing with some of the best in the world but in the end I won the race. There was nothing to fear.“
“We were in a group of about seven athletes until halfway when Edna Kiplagat started to surge forward. I decided to follow her, at 25km she reduced the paced and I increase mine.
“When I saw her drop I knew that I had nothing to fear,” she said.
In 2014, Jeptoo made an unsuccessful attempt to defend her title pulling out with injury at the 26 kilometre mark. She came back the following year and finished seventh and then eighth in 2016.
She took leave to have a baby in 2017 thus missing the London Marathon of that year and in 2018.
She returned to competitive racing in 2019, but her numbers were not good enough to get an invite for the Marathon Majors race.
Her big race planned for this year was the Paris Marathon in April that was postponed to October before being cancelled all together because of Covid-19.
She states that winning in London is not easy since it's a major race that attracts the best athletes, but she has a secret for success.
“An athlete who has been invited to compete in London must be in good shape and that is what race organisers and managers are looking for before they invite someone. There is no short cut, you have to train hard and be focused, you also have to believe in yourself that the training you've done is enough to make you win,” she added.
While she doesn't have a favourite among the top three Kenyan women invited to the London Marathon -- defending champion Brigid Kosgey, reigning world champion Ruth Chepngetich and 2018 winner Vivian Cheruiyot, she's sure that a Kenyan will win the race.
On the men's category she's placing her bet on the world record holder Kipchoge although she recognises the threat posed by Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele.
“I know the Kenyan girls have trained well for the race while in the men’s category Kipchoge is the sure bet. But a marathon is a marathon, and many things could happen,” said Jeptoo.