Keitany's career will take some beating
As Mary Keitany exits stage left from the world of marathon running, there can be no doubt that the legacy she leaves will take a special athlete to better.
For one thing, the sheer breadth of her career at the top of this tough old game will be hard to match.
Keitany arrived in the marathon to the manor born, taking third in New York City in 2010 and then winning both the 2011 and 2012 London titles.
She rattled off three consecutive Big Apple victories from 2014 to 2016 and was back on top in London in 2017, where she trounced Paula Radcliffe’s women’s only world record, setting 2:17:01 which still stands today.
The calibre of that performance was underlined by some of the numbers. During the race she clocked the fastest ever half marathon within a marathon, and in the early stages was minutes in front of Radcliffe’s mixed record.
The second placed runner that day, the track great Tirunesh Dibaba, smashed the Ethiopian record despite finishing almost a minute behind the then 34-year-old.
After defeat by Shalane Flanagan in New York later that year, onlookers questioned whether Father Time may have been starting to creep up on Keitany, but she came roaring back 12 months later to add a fourth New York crown to her glittering CV.
The politicking that can often surround Olympic selection has perhaps denied her the one medal her pedigree deserved, but if you know the marathon, you know Mary Keitany was one of the best to ever do it.
She scooped the AbbottWMM Series on three occasions, in 2012, 2016 and 2018, and is alongside Edna Kiplagat as a three-time champion of the series.
Tim Hadzima, AbbottWMM Executive Director said “Mary’s Abbott World Marathon Majors career speaks for itself. Her multiple victories against some of the toughest opponents in the sport tell their own story, and she is a great example to the next generation of marathon runners aspiring to greatness.
“When we say our races are where champions run, Mary personifies that motto to a tee. Those of us who got to see her run and win are privileged to have witnessed her achievements and we wish her well with the next chapter.”
Keitany makes way for the likes of Brigid Kosgei – already the mixed word record holder – Olympic champion Ruth Chepngetich and reigning New York City champion Joyciline Jepkosgei as just some of the stellar Kenyan names following in her footsteps.
Her last Majors appearances featured a fifth in London as Kosgei took victory, and second in New York behind Jepkosgei.
There is no doubt she leaves Kenyan women’s marathon running in capable hands. She set a high bar, for sure.