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Kenyan Chepkirui aims to reclaim Honolulu Marathon crown

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Nairobi, Dec 6: Former marathon champion Joyce Chepkirui said she is returning home to reclaim her crown on Sunday when she lines up on the streets of Honolulu, Hawaii.

The 30-year-old has chalked up podium positions in New York, Boston and Amsterdam this year, and finished fourth at the Istanbul Half Marathon clocking an impressive 69:18, reports Xinhua news agency.

"I am comfortable now with the distance," she said on Wednesday. "I am not looking for a fast time, I just want to win. No pressure on me and I don't look forward to other races or 2019. It will just fall into place, all I need to work on is win in Honolulu."

Chepkirui, however, will not be running against the clock alone. She is up against two other Kenyans (Vivian Kiplagat and Sheila Jerotich) as they work out a formula on who will retain the title that was last year won by compatriot and Chicago Marathon champ Brigid Kosgei.

"I love it there. The fans, the streets, the whole atmosphere. I'm happy to be going back to Hawaii," she added.

Chepkirui has not finished a marathon since November 2016 when she was fourth at the New York City race.

This year in Boston in April, she was among the many that fell by the wayside owing to strong winds and rainy weather. But she believes her return to United States will be fruitful.

My coach and husband Erick Kibet has helped me get back in shape. He understands me well and he helps me in training. Now I want to see how fast I can run," she said.

Chekpirui rued the withdrawal of compatriot and world half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei, who was all set to debut in marathon, but missed her step to twist her ankle in training last week.

"She is a good athlete and it would have given me a push. But injuries are cruel to athletes because they eat all the hard work done in training. I wish her well and hope to run against her soon," she added. 

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