Vivian Kiplagat: The marathon star happy to play 'rabbit' role in London

Vivian Jerono Kiplagat during an interview at Kapsait Nike Athletics Training Camp in Elgeyo-Marakwet County on September 18, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The London Marathon is the only World Marathon Majors race scheduled post-coronavirus after Berlin, Boston, New York and Chicago marathons were cancelled.
  • Tokyo managed to sneak in an elite-only race in March before all hell broke lose, coronavirus-wise.

So stellar is the London Marathon cast that they have an Abu Dhabi and Honolulu Marathon champion as pacemaker.

Never mind the fact that multiple world and Olympic champion Mo Farah is also a “rabbit” for the October 4 race that will be televised live on NTV.

Abu Dhabi Marathon champion Vivian Jerono Kiplagat is among the athletes enlisted late to lay the groundwork for the women’s elite field.

The London Marathon is the only World Marathon Majors race scheduled post-coronavirus after Berlin, Boston, New York and Chicago marathons were cancelled.

Tokyo managed to sneak in an elite-only race in March before all hell broke lose, coronavirus-wise.

Kiplagat, who has been training with the world record holder Brigid Kosgei in Kapsait, Elgeyo Marakwet County, is optimistic that her training mate will retain her title and if possible run a course record.

Vivian Jerono Kiplagat during an interview at Kapsait Nike Athletics Training Camp in Elgeyo-Marakwet County on September 18, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Pacing for the first time in history, the soft-spoken athlete said that she has done adequate training and will be looking forward to a good race on October 4.

“I have done good training and I believe I will be able to finish the required distance but the most important thing is to help my friend and training mate Brigid to retain her title. She has done well in training and I trust her when she lines for the race,” she said.

Kiplagat was preparing for the Paris Marathon and was looking forward to be on the podium, but, just like many other athletes, she was rudely interrupted by coronavirus.

This made her reduce her work load aiming to just to keep fit as she waits for another season but she is happy she will be racing anyway.

“I was supposed to compete in Paris and I was in good shape… I knew I would be on the podium there, but the virus stopped my plans. It affected everybody and I’m happy I have been tasked to pace for London athletes. I will be doing my best despite the fact that it’s my first time,” said Kiplagat.

She noted that despite the huge expectations having been training with the world record holder, and coupled with the fact that she will be competing with the best in the world, she is confident that she’s up to the task.

Vivian Jerono Kiplagat trains at Kapsait Nike Athletics Training Camp in Elgeyo-Marakwet County on September 18, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

“I was called upon to come back to the camp which is still closed for the other athletes and we had to prepare for the last three months. We are now finalising on our programme as we look forward to a good race,” she said.

Kiplagat also said that Brigid has been her mentor and she wants to run in future like her as she looks forward to taking the sport to another level.

“Athletics will always change, and I want to be in history as one of the athletes who took the sport to another level. My fans should watch this space!” she declared.

Kiplagat bagged victory in the 2018 Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii in 2:36:22, followed by compatriot Sheila Jerotich (2:42:02) while Japan's Era Suzuki finished third in 2:47:53 in the scenic December race.

Vivian Jerono Kiplagat (left) and Brigid Kosgei train at Kapsait Nike Athletics Training Camp in Elgeyo-Marakwet County on September 18, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Kiplagat then stormed to victory in Abu Dhabi Marathon last year after she clocked 2:21:11, setting another new personal best, shaving over a minute off the time set in her victory at the Milano Marathon in 2019.

She was followed two minutes 52 seconds later by Ethiopia’s Wude Yimer Ayalew who crossed the line in 2:24:03.

The London race has been voted as the most competitive with Kenya’s finest athletes set to battle it out for top honours.

Kosgei (2:14:04), who is the defending champion, will be competing against the world champion Ruth Chepng'etich (2:17:08), 2018 London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot (2:18:31), Frankfurt Marathon champion Valary Aiyabei (2:19:10) and debutant Edith Chelimo.

But the Kenyan queens will have to be smart against the Ethiopian team which will also field some of the best distance runners including Roza Dereje (2:18:30), Degitu Azimeraw (2:19:26) and Ashete Bekere (2:20:14).

brotich@ke.nationmedia.com