Cherono pledges to retain her Berlin marathon title

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NAIROBI, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Berlin marathon champion Gladys Cherono says she will take no prisoners as she schemes her title defense on Sunday.

It will be her third shot at the Berlin marathon, a race she has won twice in her debut in 2015 and in 2017.

Last year Cherono won in 2:20:23, ahead of Ethiopia's Ruti Aga who crossed the line in 2:20:41 while another Kenyan Valary Jemeli was in third place after clocking 2:20:53.

"I am ready for my title defense and anyone coming up against me must be prepared for a rough ride," warned Cherono Wednesday in Nairobi.

"There have been rain challenges in Eldoret as I trained, but I am happy that I have gone through the program and I am ready for the race on Sunday."

Cherono faces a strong field which includes Chicago marathon champion Tirunesh Dibaba and two time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat. However, that has not left the defending champion with sleepless nights.

"It will not be my first time to fight against Dibaba or Kiplagat," she said.

Indeed during the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Cherono had to finish second in the 10,000m race in which Dibaba won. But that does not mean she is ready to throw in the towel yet.

"It is not about past records," she added. "Marathon is a different competition and it will require everyone to be at their best form to prevail. I look upon my own strength and seek to draw my best performance on what my legs can do and not what others have."

In 2015, Cherono in her debut Berlin Marathon managed to run her personal best of 2:19:25. She skipped 2016 season with hamstring injury but returned to win Berlin in 2017.

"We all know that Berlin has a very fast course. Mary Keitany raised the bar when she run 2:17 minutes in London and now we all have to run faster. I look forward to run my personal best. The team is strong but I will run my race and my target is to win my third Berlin title," said Cherono.

Cherono's coach and husband Joseph Bwambok is expecting a good result from her as she defends her Berlin Marathon title on Sunday.

"Cherono is strong and in good shape this year compared to last year. I'm happy she was able to finish her program well without an injury and we are expecting good results," the coach said.

Dibaba, the third fastest woman in marathon after Paula Radcliffe ad Keitany, holds a personal best time of 2:17.56 and is the favorite. Others in the race are Kiplagat, Ethiopians Yebrugal Melese, Ruti Aga and Aselefech Mergia. Enditem

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