070416 ATLANTA: Edna Kiplagat is the first female finisher in the 47th running of the AJC Peachtree Road Race at Piedmont Park on Monday, July 4, 2016, in Atlanta. / ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton
Photo: Curtis Compton

Kenyan Edna Kiplagat dazzles en route to AJC Peachtree Road Race title

Kenyan elite marathon runner Edna Kiplagat came into The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race on a mission.

After finishing third in 2010, she finally won her first Peachtree Road Race — and did so in dazzling fashion.

“I am happy today because I tried two times to win this race, but I didn’t make it,” Kiplagat said. “Today I made it, and I am extremely happy.”

Kiplagat ran a blistering time of 32.23 minutes and led the race from start to finish Monday morning. She faced stiff competition from Ethiopian Buze Diriba, who trailed her stride for stride nearly three-fourths of the race. Kiplagat eventually pulled away late and finished with her third-best time at the event.

The victory continues her success in recent years, as she won the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon and the 2011 World Marathon Majors championship. She also was named the best women’s marathoner in the world from 2010-2014.

However, she said winning the Peachtree Road Race is special as she had to deal with intense heat on the course.

“Today it was humid, and it affected it (strategy), as I didn’t run my as I didn’t run my best,” Kiplagat said. “I tried to run my own race as I didn’t want to push it.”

Her strategy was to be aggressive at the start and conserve energy throughout the course. This helped her get through Cardiac Hill, which is one of the tougher spots on the course.

“We started the race close, but after one kilometer I started to move forward,” she said. “Because we ran last week in Boston and I competed, I knew I was also strong, but also I had to be very strong in my mind. I decided to increase the pace and move fast.”

Kiplagat said the victory ranks among her best races, given the conditions she faced. She wants to come to the AJC Peachtree Road Race next year to win it again.

“If they invite me, I will be happy to come back and defend my title,” she said.

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