WORLD record holder Mary Keitany and five-time Olympian Jo Pavey will compete for honours in September’s Simplyhealth Great North Run.
Keitany, whose 2:17:01 in the London Marathon was the quickest in a women-only race, will return to Newcastle on Sunday, September 10, having won the half marathon in 2014 and 2015.
Pavey will make it a fifth Simplyhealth Great North Run, 11 years after her first appearance in 2006, while in the men’s race, Dathan Ritzenhein will be battling to improve upon the second place he achieved in the 2016 event.
Keitany’s last appearance on Tyneside saw the 35-year-old Kenyan defend her title, winning in 67.32, and the two-time London Marathon champion is relishing her return to what has become happy hunting ground.
Keitany said: “I’m very happy to be coming back to Newcastle for the Great North Run. I have won there twice and if all goes to plan, I would love to make it a third.”
Pavey, meanwhile, will be aiming to take victory in an event that has eluded her thus far. Twice a winner at the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run and Simplyhealth Great South Run, victory on the South Shields coast at the fifth time of asking would complete a tidy treble for the 43-year-old.
Pavey, whose best finish in the Great North Run was third in 2008, said: “I’ve got lovely memories of competing in the race. The course is brilliant, and the crowds lining the route are amazing.
“It’s the biggest half marathon in the world, so it’s always exciting to take part. I have great memories of doing it – my half marathon PB is from this race. I know what a great course it is.
“I’m focused on putting in a good performance. It all depends on the competition on the day. You always try to put in your absolute best performance on the day and focus your training towards that.”
In the men’s race, Ritzenhein is the first name to be announced to take on Sir Mo Farah’s crown. The Brit has three consecutive Great North Run victories under his belt, but Ritzenhein pushed Farah close last Autumn, with the 34-year-old outsprinting the American on the steep downhill section a mile from the finish.
Ritzenhein is in good shape having taken victory in May’s Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run ahead of Bernard Lagat and Stephen Mokoka, and is relishing another crack at the world’s biggest half marathon.
The Michigan-based 34-year-old said: “I love the Great North Run! After coming so close last year, I feel there’s a little unfinished business. I’m in good shape, Manchester was a great win for me, and hopefully I can take this form through the summer into a good performance at the Great North Run.”