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Gladys Cherono Looks to Crack 31:21 in Ottawa 10K

WORLD HALF-MARATHON CHAMP GLADYS CHERONO TARGETS OTTAWA 10-K COURSE RECORD
By Paul Gains

(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly; all rights reserved
(Used with permission)

(01-May)
– Since its early days, the Ottawa 10-K has attracted some of the
finest distance runners in the world to the Canadian capital and so
it’s no surprise the race has been awarded IAAF Gold Label status this
year.

The latest superstar to tackle the fast, and mostly flat,
course is Kenya’s Gladys Cherono, the reigning IAAF World Half-Marathon
champion, and what a coup it has been for organizers to sign her for
their May 23 event.

Though she is a fairly late comer to road
racing, her results have been nothing short of incredible. After being
crowned the African 5,000m/10,000m champion in 2012, and then capturing
the 10,000m silver medal at the 2013 IAAF World Athletics Championships
in Moscow, Cherono turned her attention to the potentially lucrative
business of road racing.

Last year she won the IAAF World
Half Marathon championship in Copenhagen before making her marathon
debut in Dubai this past January 23rd. A second-place finish in 2:20:03
certainly raised eyebrows. That time makes her the 19th fastest woman
of all time and perhaps more impressive, the fourth fastest women’s
marathon debutant.

Observers wonder if the outcome in Dubai
might have been different if she hadn’t bumped into another athlete
while trying to get to her water bottle late in the race. Eventually,
she lost to Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia, the 2009 IAAF world
championships marathon bronze medalist, by just one second. This hasn’t
dampened her enthusiasm in the least.

“I was not disappointed
at all,” she says from her home in Eldoret, Kenya, “since it was my
first marathon and it was a really challenging race. The other
contenders were very qualified and experienced athletes. I’m pleased my
agent (Gianni Demadonna) was able to enter me in that competition and I
could train nicely for that event.

“But maybe if I could have
picked up my water at 40 km I could have won. I would like to improve
my time before the end of the year.”

As she looks ahead to Ottawa, her first visit to Canada, she has set a rather ambitious target.

“I
want to try and break the course record,” she declares. The record was
set last year by her friend and training partner, Mary Keitany. “I
haven’t asked her about Canada, but I know that last year Mary ran
31:21, a minute ahead of the second-place finisher, and seven seconds
better than the previous event record. She also won the gender
competition.

“I am very excited to come and race in Ottawa and
to travel to Canada for my first time. My agent told me that this one
is a very well organized race and usually there is a world-class field
of women competing there.”

Victory in Ottawa is worth USD 8000.
With the elite women starting approximately four minutes before the
elite men, and the main field, there is also a ‰Û¢gender bonus’ of USD
2000 for the first male or female to cross the line. In addition, a
course record time would earn Cherono another USD 2000. Keitany took
home the gender and course record bonuses last year, which has served
as inspiration to Cherono.

Like most Kenyan athletes running is
Cherono’s profession and the means to financial stability for her
family and extended family.

“My husband’s name is Joseph
Bwambok,” Cherono reveals. “He was an athlete, but he decided to assist
me in training as a pacer to me. Also he is taking good care of our
family. We have a four-year-old daughter.

“I train six days a
week – between 150km-180km per week – and I take off Sundays only. We
go to church and spend time with my family and friends on Sundays. Life
in Kenya is so nice when I am not training. I like traveling with my
family and watching movies.”

Bwambok spent time in Spain during
his own running career recording decent times of 62:25 for the half
marathon in 2010 and 28:59 for the 10k a year later. But the couple
recognized which of them could likely be the main breadwinner.
Cherono’s second place Dubai marathon prize money was USD 80,000, for
instance. Had she won, her earnings would have been USD 200,000.

Cherono
is certainly capable of breaking Keitany’s course record. Two years ago
she chased three-time Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia)
around the track at Ostrava in the Czech Republic to record a personal
best 10,000m time of 30:29.23. And she will be pushed in Ottawa by a
strong field, which includes Kenyan compatriot, Lineth Chepkurui, who
has run 30:45 for the distance, and Ethiopia’s 21 year old sensation
Ruti Aga.

Aga was the 2012 IAAF World Junior 5,000m silver
medalist and also finished a credible 5th place in the 2013 IAAF World
Cross Country Championships. A year ago, she made an appearance in
Ottawa finishing 2nd on a warm muggy night in a time of 32:21. After
that race she revealed she has suffered from Typhoid just five weeks
before. Her best 10k time is 31:35 and it is conceivable she can
approach that time in Ottawa.

In addition to the IAAF Gold
Label, this year’s Ottawa 10-K will also serve as the 2015 Canadian
National 10-K championships. Two-time Canadian Olympian Eric Gillis and
Canadian marathon record holder Lanni Marchant are amongst the leading
Canadians who have confirmed they will be racing here.

With the
10-K scheduled for 6:30 pm, Saturday, May 23rd, the elite racers are
often seen at the start of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon the following
morning cheering on their compatriots. Cherono would like to do more.

“For
now I don’t know much (about Ottawa), but hope I’ll have a chance to
have a walk around after the competition. I heard that Ottawa is a
beautiful city,” she says.

PHOTO: Gladys Cherono of Kenya
winning the 2014 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in Copenhagen,
Denmark

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