NEW YORK (AP) — Sharon Lokedi is set to defend her New York City Marathon title in the race Nov. 5 as part of a loaded women’s professional field.

Joining Lokedi are Boston Marathon champion Hellen Obiri, Olympic gold medalist and 2021 New York champion Peres Jepchirchir, and marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei. When the four Kenyans line up in November, it will be the first time in the history of the event that the reigning Boston Marathon, Olympic champion, world-record holder and defending New York champion will race against each other in the Big Apple.

“I’m really excited as they are my friends,” Lokedi told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “It only makes the competition more fun when it’s that stacked. I’m excited to compare myself with all those women.”

Lokedi won her marathon debut last year, pulling away in the final two miles to finish in 2:23.23. She became the eighth athlete to win the race in their true 26.2-mile debut. She’s been dealing with an injury for most of the year that forced her to withdraw from the Boston Marathon in April.

“It’s been a rough year for me,” Lokedi said in a phone interview. “I’m excited to get back to racing and looking forward to going back to New York. I’m on my way back to training and looking forward to the next couple of months.”

Lokedi’s win last year came on one of the hottest days in New York City Marathon history, with temperatures approaching 80 degrees.

“You never know with the weather,” she said. “It’s New York in November, it might be cold or hot.”

Obiri is a two-time Olympic medalist and seven-time world championship medalists. She holds the Kenyan record for the 3,000 and represented Kenya at the last two Olympics, earning the silver medal in the 5,000 at both events. In her marathon debut last year in New York, she finished sixth.

“With a year of marathon experience now under my belt, a win in Boston, and my move to the U.S., I’m coming to New York this year with more confidence and in search of a title,” Obiri said. “I’m excited to show the people of New York what I’m capable of and that my win at the United Airlines NYC Half in March was just the beginning.”

Jepchirchir is the only athlete to have won the Olympic marathon, TCS New York City Marathon and Boston Marathon. She is also a two-time world championships gold medalist in the half marathon. She won the Tokyo Olympics marathon in 2021 to claim Kenya’s second consecutive gold medal in the event.

Four months later, she won the New York City Marathon, finishing in 2:22:39, the third-fastest time in event history and eight seconds off the event record.

“I was so disappointed that I couldn’t defend my title in New York last year due to an injury, and winning again in Central Park has been my main motivation as I begin my preparations for the autumn,” Jepchirchir said. “New York is an important step in defending my Olympic gold medal next summer in Paris, and I will do my best to make my family and my country proud.”

Kosgei is the world-record holder in the marathon, setting the mark in Chicago in 2019, and has won an Olympic silver medal. She will be making her New York City Marathon debut.

“I am not worried about the course, as I have had success in hilly marathons before, but New York has always been about head-to-head competition,” Kosgei said. “I know I must be in the best possible shape to compete with the other women in the race.”


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