Who Is Mary Keitany? The New York Marathon Women's Winner Was Inspired To Run At A Young Age
The 45th annual New York Marathon has already been decided. Both the elite women's division and the women's wheelchair athletes saw repeat champs this year. Tatyana McFadden, a 26-year-old wheelchair athlete, extended her winning streak to three New York Marathons in a row, setting a course record in the process. The elite women's champion finished impressively as well, beating out fellow high profile runners that included an 18-year-old challenger making her debut. So, who is Mary Keitanym winner of the New York Marathony women's division?
The 33-year-old athlete first became interested in running in her home country of Kenya as a child. It was fellow Kenyan female runner Tegla Loroupe, who first inspired her to pursue the sport. "When I was in school, Tegla was very famous, and I thought, ‘Maybe I can be like her," Keitany told Competitor.com in a recent interview. She began rigorously training to follow in her idol's footsteps, formally competing when she turned 20 and setting a personal 5,000 meter record she has yet to beat in 2006 in Nairobi. She made her mark just one year later by placing second at the World Road Running Championships in Italy in 2006. She would go on to win the World Half Marathon Championships in 2009. Those three years between her strong performance in Italy and nabbing a championship in England saw Keitany give birth to her first child, Jared, who was born in 2008. He would be joined by a sibling, born in 2013.
Keitany has been consistently outspoken as a parent athlete and says the experience is an invaluable one. In an interview with the New York Marathon itself, Keitany credits maternity with helping to make her a better runner. She said:
Maternity is a fantastic experience that changes your life. It makes you more responsible and mature. The new attitude also reflects on the dedication you put into training, because you realize you are not just running for money or for glory, but for giving your children a better future by improving your performances.
Though Keitany is an Olympic athlete, she has yet to win a medal. She competed in the 2012 Olympics in London and ended up placing fourth in the Women's Marathon Final. She's hoping to bring home the gold during the upcoming 2016 Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro. Keitany has a whole lot working in her favor this go round. According to ESPN, she is the world's second fastest long-distance runner, having completed a 26.2 marathon at the dizzying pace and finishing at two hours, 18 minutes, and 37 seconds. Keitany needs only to continue this forward momentum to truly make her mark in Brazil come next summer.