Mutai, Jeptoo Headed To New York City Marathon For Title Defense

Geoffrey Mutai will attempt to win his third title in New York this fall. Photo: www.photorun.net

The pair won the 2013 edition of the race through the city’s five boroughs.

(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

The New York Road Runners, organizers of the TCS New York City Marathon, announced Thursday that reigning champions Geoffrey Mutai and Priscah Jeptoo will defend their titles at the race’s 44th running on Sunday, Nov. 2. Mutai, 32, is a two-time champion of the largest marathon in the world, while Jeptoo, 30, claimed her first New York City win in come-from-behind fashion last year.

“With Geoffrey and Priscah headlining the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, we welcome back two great champions to the streets of New York City,” said New York Road Runners President and CEO Mary Wittenberg in a statement. “Last year, as they led 50,000 runners in the largest marathon ever, both Geoffrey and Priscah were inspirations to us all. This November, when they line up in Staten Island to start their journey through the unique neighborhoods of the City’s five boroughs, these world-class athletes will be chasing history, as Geoffrey goes for a New York hat trick and Priscah looks to join an elite group of repeat winners.”

Kenya’s Mutai seeks to become only the third three-time men’s champion in race history, joining Alberto Salazar and Bill Rodgers, who won four times. In 2011, Mutai claimed victory by over a minute in a course record of 2:05:06. Following the race’s cancellation in 2012 due to Superstorm Sandy, Mutai returned in 2013 to win convincingly in 2:08:24 in cold and windy conditions.

“For me, back where I’m from everyone knows to win this course or to repeat again twice, it’s not easy. For me, it’s a glory,” said Mutai, speaking at a winner’s press conference less than 24 hours after taking the 2013 title. “Let’s say a big marathon like this and you repeat twice, it means how you are keeping yourself. So I think I’m more famous now in Kenya.”

Mutai currently sits tied for eighth in the World Marathon Major standings with 25 points. At his last marathon, the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 13, Mutai finished sixth in 2:08:18. He holds a personal best of 2:03:02, the fastest marathon ever run in all conditions at the 2011 Boston Marathon (aided course).

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“New York is a very special place for me and I’m very excited to defend my title and go for a third win at the TCS New York City Marathon,” said Mutai in a statement provided by race organizers.

Jeptoo, the 2012 Olympic Marathon silver medalist, aims to become the first women’s repeat winner since Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe in 2007-2008. In total, seven women have earned multiple wins at the New York City Marathon, including Kenyans Margaret Okayo (the course record holder) and Tegla Loroupe.

“I am very happy to come back to defend my title at the TCS New York City Marathon early November,” said Jeptoo, the 2012-2013 World Marathon Majors series champion, through a statement. In the 2013-2014 World Marathon Majors standings, Jeptoo currently is third with 50 points. “I know the field will be extremely competitive in New York as it is every year, but I will try my best to win again. I recovered well from my injury in London [which forced her to drop out of the Virgin Money London Marathon] and hope all will be good in my preparation from now until November 2.”

Last year, Jeptoo was more than a half mile behind leaders Buzunesh Deba and Tigist Tufa before making her charge for the laurel wreath, gradually reeling in the leaders before taking the front with less than three miles remaining. Her winning time was 2:25:07.

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“It is an incredible job that we did yesterday and I am very happy and that is the day I will not forget for the rest of my life,” Jeptoo told reporters in 2013, smiling very wide.

In total, 50,266 runners completed the 2013 New York City Marathon, making it the largest marathon in history. The New York Road Runners report that more than 100 countries and each of the 50 states that make up America were represented. This year’s race will be televised live nationally on ESPN2, on WatchESPN, and in the New York City metropolitan area on WABC-TV.

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