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Mary Keitany clocked her fourth title at the 2018 New York City Marathon, finishing 3:14 ahead of second place finisher Vivian Cheruiyot. After coming in second last year to Shalane Flanagan, this year, Keitany hung with the pack until the halfway point when she and Ethiopians Rahma Tusa and Netsanet Gudeta pulled ahead. Keitany went on to leave both behind at mile 19 and held a safe lead all the way to the finish. Here are 10 things to note about Keitany’s career and personal life outside of running.
1. Keitany holds the world record for the fastest women-only marathon.
On April 23, 2017 at the London Marathon, Keitany set the world record for the women’s-only race, clocking her personal best time of 2:17:01.
2. Her 2018 NYC finish was the second-fastest in event history.
Keitany’s finish time of 2:22:48 at this year’s NYC Marathon falls second only to Margaret Okayo’s 2003 finish time of 2:22:31.
3. This is her fourth NYC title.
Keitany won the New York City Marathon three consecutive times in 2014, 2015 and 2016. She fell short of making it five consecutive wins when she came in second to Shalane Flanagan in 2017 by just over one minute. Grete Waitz (a Norwegian) is the only other woman to win the marathon four times.
4. She came in 21st in the first race she ever ran.
Winning hasn’t always come easy for Keitany. The first race she ever ran was a free-to-enter Shoe4Africa 10K in 2006. The first 20 places received prize money, so you can imagine Keitany’s disappointment when she came in 21st.
5. She was born in Kabarnet, Baringo County, Kenya.
Located in the province of Rift Valley, Kabarnet is part of Africa’s rural countryside. Keitany took part in school running competitions here just for fun before deciding to attend the Hidden Talent Academy in 2002 and take running more seriously.
6. She is part of the “Fantastic Four.”
She is one of a group of four Kenyan runners (the others being Edna Kiplagat, Florence Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo) who were held in high regards approaching the London Marathon in 2015. Many believed one of the “Fantastic Four” would win the race—however, Ethiopia’s Tigist Tufa ended up claiming the title.
7. Keitany trains at the Addidas Camp in Kenya.
You can catch Keitany at this camp in Iten, Kenya conquering her two-a-day workouts and running up to 150 miles a week to prepare for her races.
8. She grew up farming in Kenya.
Keitany’s parents worked as farmers growing vegetables, maize and beans and raising cattle. Once she finished primary school, she worked for a year on her family’s farm.
9. She’s married to another Kenyan runner.
She has two kids, Jared and Samantha, with husband and runner Charles Koech. Keitany had to stop training at her third month of pregnancy but quickly resumed after the babies hit six months of age.
10. Keitany’s first time on a plane was at 24 years old.
At 13, Keitany saw an airplane for the first time and started dreaming of what it would be like to fly to new places. Running finally took Keitany on a plane to Spain for a half marathon 11 years later in 2006. Spain is now just one on a long list of countries running has taken Keitany, and with her success, that list can only grow from here.