NEW YORK (AP) — The New York City Marathon women’s record, which has stood for 20 years, could go down Sunday with one of the strongest fields assembled in the history of the race.
Reigning champion Sharon Lokedi looks to defend her title against a stellar group of female runners that includes Boston Marathon champion Hellen Obiri, Olympic gold medalist and 2021 New York champion Peres Jepchirchir and former marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei.
“It was very life-changing,” Lokedi said of winning last year. “Very excited to be back here again.”
She’ll have some added support from her mother, who flew to New York from Kenya and will be waiting at the finish line in Central Park.
All will be aiming for the $50,000 bonus if they can beat the NYC event record of 2:22:31 set by Margaret Okayo in 2003. Obiri won the Boston Marathon in April, lowering her personal best to 2:21:38.
“The field will be very strong when I’m together with them,” Kosgei said.
Lokedi won in her marathon debut last year, taking the New York laurel wreath crown in 2:23.23. She pulled away in the final two miles of the race, winning in unseasonably warm temperatures in the 70s. It was one of the hottest days in race history since the marathon was moved to November in 1986.
The temperatures on Sunday are expected in the high 50s, considerably better for the 50,000 runners expected to start the race.
“I’m happy it will be cooler,” Lokedi said.
The four Kenyans all have a chance to win the race. There likely won’t be many American runners in contention because the U.S. Olympic marathon trials are three months away. Kellyn Taylor and Molly Huddle are the top U.S. runners in the race, returning after giving birth to daughters in 2022. Huddle finished third at the 2016 NYC Marathon in her debut at the distance.
“We’ve got a really strong group,” Taylor said. “When I look at the people seeded ahead of me, I’m like ‘holy moly.’ Their accolades are light years ahead of mine. But that’s the beauty of New York is that you can put all of that aside and anything can happen on that day.”
The current women’s world record is 2:11:53, set by Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia at the Berlin Marathon in September.
While the men’s field may not have the star power of the women’s side, there’s still a lot of intrigue. Defending champion Evans Chebet and two-time winner Geoffrey Kamworor pulled out of the race a few weeks ago, leaving it more wide open.
World Championship medalists Maru Teferi of Israel and Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia could win the race, along with 2021 New York Marathon champion Albert Korir. There’s also marathon newcomer Edward Cheserek, who moved to the U.S. in 2010 and won 17 NCAA titles in his college career.
Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola also hopes to improve on his consecutive fourth-place finishes in in 2018-19. He placed third in the 2022 Toyko Marathon and the London Marathon this year. He’s seeking is first major marathon victory.
TICKET TO PARIS
The New York City Marathon serves as the U.S. Paralympic Trials, with up to four wheelchair racers set to become the first athletes across all sports to make the team for the 2024 Paris Games.
The top two Americans in the men’s and women’s NYC Marathon will qualify, provided they also record a minimum qualifying time since last October and are ranked high enough.
Susannah Scaroni has already posted that time and ranking.
“It would mean a lot. So much gratitude,” she said. “Would love to make the team in one of those two slots Sunday. It would be incredible to know I’m going to the Paralympics.”
Daniel Romanchuk is an eight-time major winner, most recently in Boston in 2022. He has consistently been the top American in majors, only surpassed by Swiss Marcel Hug, who has dominated the sport.
The New York Police Department will implement heightened security measures for the marathon.
“As tensions rise around the globe, there is a growing concern over the impact it will have here at home,” said NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban. “There are currently no credible or specific threats to the marathon or to our city. But having said that, we will still implement a comprehensive security plan.”
There have been numerous protests in New York City since the start of the Israel-Hamas war last month.
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