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World record-holder Mary Keitany retires

World record holder and seven-time World Marathon Majors winner Mary Keitany from Kenya retires from the sport.

Mary Keitany KEN raises her arms as she crosses the finish line winning the elite women's race. The Virgin Money London Marathon, 23rd April 2017. credit: Roger Allen for Virgin Money London Marathon
Mary Keitany KEN raises her arms as she crosses the finish line winning the elite women's race. The Virgin Money London Marathon, 23rd April 2017. credit: Roger Allen for Virgin Money London Marathon

Kenyan running great Mary Keitany announced her retirement on Wednesday after a stellar career which saw her win the London Marathon on three occasions and the New York Marathon four times, as well as triumph at the 2009 World Half Marathon Championships.

Keitany, 39, also still holds the marathon world record for a women-only race, having clocked a stunning 2:17:01 when winning the third of her Virgin Money London Marathon titles in 2017.

She commented: “After my successful 2019, when I had some good results including second place in New York, I was hopeful that I could still be very competitive internationally for several more years even though I am in my late 30s.”

“However, I’m sad to say, a back injury that I suffered in late 2019 made a decision about my retirement for me. I couldn’t get the treatment I wanted in Europe because of the pandemic-related travel restrictions last year and every time I thought I had got over the injury and started training hard, it became a problem again.

“So now is the time to say goodbye – if only as an elite runner – to the sport I love so much.”

Keitany first came to global attention in 2007, after local success in Kenya the previous year, with a series of good performances in European half marathons which then earned her a place in the Kenyan team at that year’s World Half Marathon Championships.

A silver medal at the 2007 edition of that event, and team gold, was followed by more than a decade among the very best of the world’s female road runners, even with breaks in 2008 and 2013 to give birth to her children Jared and Samantha.

Keitany won the 2009 world half marathon title in Birmingham, England, by over a minute in 1:06:36, at the time the second fastest mark ever on a record-legal course and an African record. She also led Kenya to the team gold medals.

After finishing third in New York on her marathon debut in 2010, her first major marathon win came in her next race over the classic distance when she triumphed in the 2011 Virgin Money London Marathon and further victories in the British capital came in 2012 and 2017.

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She will also be remembered fondly for her three impressive consecutive wins in the New York Marathon between 2014 and 2016 before winning in the Big Apple again in 2018.

Other accolades include setting a world half marathon record of 1:05:50 at the 2011 RAK Half Marathon, fourth place in the London 2012 Olympic Games marathon, and she continues to hold the women-only 25km world best of 1:19:43, set during her triumphant 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon run.

“As for the future, I haven’t fully decided on my plans but I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family. My children are currently 13 and eight.

In addition, I am involved with some local charitable enterprises,” said Keitany, who added that she still intends to pay close attention to what is happening in the world of distance running.

Motunde Smith

Motunde is one of our top assets as associate editor and social media manager. A hardworking copy editor with an eye for little details.

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