People

Mary Jepkosgei Keitany’s biography, fact, career, awards, net worth and life story

IntroKenyan long-distance runner
A.K.A.Mary Keitany
Is Runner
Athlete
Marathon runner
Long-distance runner
From Kenya
Type Sports
Genderfemale
Birth

18 January 1982, Baringo County

Age38 years

Mary Jepkosgei Keitany (born 18 January 1982 in Kisok, Baringo District) is a runner from Kenya who specialises in long distance running up to the marathon distance. She won silver at the 2007 IAAF World Road Running Championships and became the World Half Marathon champion two years later. She won the 2012 London Marathon with a personal best of 2:18:37 hours – making her the second fastest woman ever in the event.
Her personal best of 1:05:50 in the half marathon is the former women’s world record and second fastest of all-time. She also holds the world record in the women’s 10 miles (50:05 minutes), 20 km (62:36), and the 25 km (1:19:53).

Career

She started running while at primary school. In 2002, she joined the Hidden Talent Academy. In January 2006 she placed 21st in her first senior race at the Shoe4Africa women’s race. After some success in local races, she competed abroad for the first time, winning some road races in Europe.

She won a silver medal at the 2007 IAAF World Road Running Championships, finishing second only to Lornah Kiplagat who broke the world record. She married fellow Kenyan athlete Charles Koech in late 2007 and the couple had a son, Jared Kipchumba, in mid-2008. After her year out, she returned to competition at the World 10K Bangalore in May 2009. She finished one second behind the winner Aselefech Mergia, but set a new personal best of 32:09 in the 10 km. In September that year, she finished the 2009 Lille Half Marathon with 1:07:00, which was a winning mark and the seventh fastest run of all-time over the distance.

Her run in Lille meant she had qualified for the 2009 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham. She outpaced Aberu Kebede to win her first World Championship, setting a new personal best of 1:06:36 and breaking the Championship record. She also took a second gold as part of the winning Kenyan squad in the team competition. Reflecting on the win she noted “it’s my best ever time, so I’m so happy…I had a baby just 1 year and 3 months ago.” Her 15 km interval time, 46:51 minutes, is better than the world record 46:55 held by Kayoko Fukushi of Japan, but will not be ratified as a world record due to low elevation of the interval related to the race start. Her time was the second fastest ever in the half marathon (after Lornah Kiplagat) and the director of the New York City Marathon, Mary Wittenberg, suggested that she could become a world-beater over the full marathon distance in the coming years. The half marathon time was a new African record, the previous record, 1:06:44 hours, was set by Elana Meyer of South Africa in 1999. She also beat the previous Kenyan record 1:06:48 she had set in Udine two years earlier.

World records and marathon running

She won the 2010 Abu Dhabi Half Marathon. She also won the 2010 Berlin 25K race, setting a new world record 1:19:53 hours. The previous record was held by Mizuki Noguchi of Japan since 2005. Her quick time left her almost five minutes ahead of the runner-up Alice Timbilili. She used the Portugal Half Marathon in September as preparation for the New York City Marathon and led from the front to win the race largely uncontested in a time of 1:08:46. In her debut run at the 2010 NYC Marathon she was among the leading three for much of the race but faded in the latter stages to complete the distance in 2:29:01 hours for third place.

Keitany began 2011 in record-breaking form as she won the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon with a world record time of 1:05:50. This marked the first time a woman had run the distance in under 66 minutes on a non-aided course and she set a number of other records along the way, including a world record of 1:02:36 for 20 km and world best times for the 8 km and 10-mile markers. She then won the 2011 London Marathon in a time of 2:19:17, pulling away from the field at the 14-mile mark and becoming the fourth fastest woman ever over the marathon distance. She won for a second time at the Portugal Half Marathon and improved upon her own course record with a winning time of 1:07:54 hours. She was the pre-race favourite for the 2011 New York City Marathon and had gained a significant lead by the halfway point (running at over four minutes faster than the course record). However, she slowed dramatically in the second half of the race and was eventually overtaken by Firehiwot Dado and Buzunesh Deba, leaving her in third place with a finishing time of 2:23:38 hours.

She intended to improve her world record mark at the 2012 RAK Half Marathon, but windy conditions meant her winning time of 1:06:49 hours was slower than the previous year. The 2012 London Marathon saw her beat the African record in the marathon with a winning time of 2:18:37 hours, beating Catherine Ndereba’s previous mark to become the third fastest woman ever. Despite such a strong showing in London in April, when it came to the 2012 Summer Olympics hosted in the city she was beaten to the finish line. She set a fast pace among the lead pack until 41 km, at which point she fell behind to finish fourth. She announced her pregnancy at the start of 2013 and skipped that year’s competitions.

On 2 November 2014, Keitany battled it out with eventual second-place finisher Jemima Jelagat Sumgong to win the New York City Marathon in a time of 2:25:07.

Leading up to the 2015 London Marathon, Keitany was one of the heralded Kenyan ‘Fantastic Four’ (consisting of Keitany, Edna Kiplagat, Florence Kiplagat, and Priscah Jeptoo) expected to win the race and possibly even challenge Paula Radcliffe’s course record (and women’s world record time in the marathon distance). Down the last stretch of the race, Keitany had to battle it out with Ethiopian Tirfi Tsegaye, eventually clinching second place in 2:23:40 after Ethiopian Tigist Tufa, who won in 2:23:22. Keitany remarked after the race that she was affected by the wind and cold weather.

2016 New York City Marathon winner Mary Keitany (2:24:26) ahead of Runner-up Sally Kipyego (2:28:01) and Molly Huddle who placed third (2:28:13).

Personal life

She is married to another runner Charles Koech and gave birth to her first child, Jared, in June 2008, and her second child, Samantha, in April 2013. She stopped from training and any sport activity at the third month of pregnancy and resumed when the babies were six months old.

She trains at the Adidas camp in Iten, is managed by Gianni Demadonna and is coached by Gabriele Nicola.

International competitions

YearCompetitionVenuePositionEventNotes
2007World Road Running ChampionshipsUdine, Italy2ndHalf marathon1:06:48
2009World Half Marathon ChampionshipsBirmingham, England1stHalf marathon1:06:36
2012Olympic GamesLondon, United Kingdom4thMarathon2:23:56

Road races

YearCompetitionVenuePositionEventNotes
2006Sevilla Half MarathonSeville, Spain1stHalf marathon
San Silvestre Olivais 10KBarcelona, Spain1st10 km
2007Almeria Half MarathonAlmeria, Spain1stHalf marathon
Vitry-sur-Seine HumarathonParis, France1stHalf marathon
Puy-en-Velay 15kPuy-en-Velay, France1st15 km
Lille Half MarathonLille, France1stHalf marathon1:08:43
2009Delhi Half MarathonNew Delhi, India1stHalf marathon1:06:54
2011Ras Al Khaimah Half MarathonRas Al Khaimah, UAE1stHalf marathon1:05:50 Former WR
London MarathonLondon, United Kingdom1stMarathon2:19:19
2012London MarathonLondon, United Kingdom1stMarathon2:18:37 NR
2014New York City MarathonNew York City, United States1stMarathon2:25:07
2015London MarathonLondon, United Kingdom2ndMarathon2:23:40
20152015 New York City MarathonNew York City, United States1stMarathon2:24:25
2016London MarathonLondon United Kingdom9thMarathon2:28:30
2016Beach to Beacon 10KCape Elizabeth, Maine, USA1st10K30:45.0 CR
2016New York City MarathonNew York, New York, USA1stMarathon2:24:26

Personal bests

DistanceTimeDateCity
5000 m16:29.429 June 2006Nairobi, Kenya
10,000 m31:1513 June 2015New York, US
10 km30:45+18 February 2011Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
15 km46:50+18 February 2011Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
20 km1:02:36+18 February 2011Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
Half marathon1:05:3915 September 2014Great North Run, South Shields, UK
25 km1:19:539 May 2010Berlin, Germany
Marathon2:18:3722 April 2012London, UK