Category Archives: Athlete profile

Happy Birthday Mary Keitany

Mary KeitanyCurrent women’s World Marathon Major champion, Mary Keitany, turns 31 today (18 January).

Keitany rose to prominence initially on the half-marathon stage,  winning the Sevilla Half in 2006 as her maiden win, and then taking a suite of victories over the following years. She won three half-marathon titles in 2007 and narrowly missed the World Half-Marathon Championship title in that year.

After not racing in 2008 due to pregnancy and childbirth, she bounced back to win the elusive World Half-Marathon World Champion title in 2009 in Birmingham and also won two further half-marathon’s before stepping up in distance for third place in the 2010 New York Marathon on debut.

2011 saw her storm on to the marathon world stage, preparing by setting the half-marathon world record of 1:05:50 in the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon before taking the first of her two Virgin London Marathon titles. She followed up with a further third place in the 2011 New York Marathon.

Last year saw her again win the Virgin London Marathon in the fastest female marathon time of the year (2:18:37) and entered the 2012 London Olympics as an overwhelming favourite, but faded late and had to settle for fourth, 49 seconds behind Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana.

Keitany trains at the adidas camp in Iten and will likely remain a force in 2012, London likely to again be on her schedule, as long as it works in around the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August.

Keitany winning the 2012 Virgin London Marathon

Keitany winning the 2012 Virgin London Marathon


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Athlete profile: Liliya Shobukhova

Russian marathoner Liliya Shobukhova turns 35 today (13 November). Marathon Intervals took a look at the life of the second fastest woman to ever run 26.2 miles.

Liliya Shobukhova crosses the finish line in the 2011 Chicago Marathon. (José M. Osorio/ Chicago Tribune)

Liliya Shobukhova has not had what could be described as a standard entrance to the world of marathon running. She grew up in the rural Russian town of Beloretsk in the 1990’s her family facing extreme poverty, the winter temperatures getting as low as -25 and the nearest indoor track more than 100km from her house. As a child her ambitions were more focused on ice skating than on running. Having been convinced to join her local running club as a nine-year-old, she raced predominantly shorter distances as a sprinter and then building up to become a 1500m and 3000m runner, setting personal bests for both in 2004 (4:03.78/8:34.85).

In 2007 she started running longer, winning the Prague Half Marathon and competing at the IAAF World Road Running Championships. After representing Russia in the 5000m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Shobukhova made the jump to the marathon, coming third in the 2009 London Marathon in 2:24:24.

From there she had a golden run, winning three Chicago Marathons (2009/10/11), the 2010 London Marathon and placing second in London in 2011. She ran the 2011 Chicago Marathon in 2:18:20, the fourth fastest time by a female ever and the second fastest woman as the three other times were recorded by Paula Radcliffe.

Shobukhova sadly could not continue her form through to the London Olympics, withdrawing with injury just over halfway through. She ran the 2012 Chicago Marathon but could not defend for a fourth title, finishing fourth in 2:22:59, 56 seconds behind Ethiopia’s Atsede Baysa.

Shobukhova has had to deal with personal tragedy with the death of her first husband, however is now re-married and has a daughter, along with five cats, a dog and a parrot!

“I think the marathon best suits my character,” Shobukhova told the IAAF in the lead up to the London Olympics. “It is like playing chess. I have a goal for every 5kms of the race. If the situation changes I have to correct my goals, to adjust tactics. It is really a great challenge for me.”

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