What you need to know:
- Lagat has good memories of last year’s race hailing Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir for pushing her to the podium at Central Park
- Lagat has also been taking notes from four-time New York Marathon champion Mary Keitany who has been giving her tips on how to overcome the tough New York course
- Lagat started her 2022 season with a sixth place in Boston Marathon in April, her preparations affected by a bout of Covid-19 which slowed her training
Viola Cheptoo Lagat will be heading to the New York City Marathon for the second time hoping to improve on her second place finish in last year’s race.
Lagat, the younger sister of Kenyan-born US distance running legend Bernard Lagat had set base for the last three months in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County.
This Sunday’s race in the “Big Apple” will be her third over the marathon distance.
“Last year, it was a dream come true because I was debuting in the marathon and coming in second alongside such great athletes competing was just amazing. It gave me a reason to continue working hard,” said Lagat.
She did not change her training programme but wants to lower her personal best time.
Obiri makes debut
Other Kenyans lining up at Central Park on Sunday will be two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, Grace Kahura and Hellen Obiri. Obiri, a two-time world 5,000 metres champion and twice Olympic silver medallist over the distance, will be making her marathon debut.
“Competing with a great name like Edna Kiplagat is an inspiration. I’m still young in marathon because I need to know what time should I react and what time I should increase my pace compared to her who has done more races, she is sure of what she is doing,” Lagat added.
Lagat has good memories of last year’s race hailing Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir for pushing her to the podium at Central Park.
“I started slow in the race, but the most amazing thing is that my body started reacting well and I surged forward steadily and, to my surprise, I managed to get to where Jepchirchir was. She asked me if the pace she was doing was fine with me and I told her I was comfortable. She really encouraged me,” explained Lagat.
Tips from Keitany
Lagat has also been taking notes from four-time New York Marathon champion Mary Keitany who has been giving her tips on how to overcome the tough New York course.
Lagat started her 2022 season with a sixth place in Boston Marathon in April, her preparations affected by a bout of Covid-19 which slowed her training.
“When I started my training in January, I had difficulty. I just trained for two months and that affected my performance in April,” she said.
Lagat has planned with her coach to attack the Abott Marathon Majors series which, besides New York, also features the London, Tokyo, Berlin and Chicago marathons.
“I would like to ask Kenyans and all our fans to always pray for us as we line up for the race. Personally, I’m doing this for Peres Jepchirchir who pulled out of the race due to injury. We are praying for her to heal as soon as possible,” said Lagat who is a former 1,500 metres specialist.
She ranks Obiri as the dark horse, arguing that anyone making a debut is capable of upsetting the applecart.