Mary Keitany on how she helped create adidas' super fast running shoe – adizero Pro.
Throughout her life, there has been one word that sums up 38-year-old marathon superstar Mary Keitany. Dedication.
As a child, the dedication to run 20km a day to attend her local primary school in Baringo County, Kenya. Yes. Every day, without shoes. The dedication to quit running altogether at the age of 15 to take a job looking after another family in order to support her own parents and siblings. The dedication to return to running two years later and win her first international competition, the 2006 Seville Half Marathon, less than a year after that.
With that kind of dedication, it’s no wonder she’s won the New York marathon four times, the London Marathon three times (smashing the London Marathon record in 2017 by running 2:17:01) and has run the third fastest marathon of all time. And these are just a few of the ground-breaking achievements that have made Mary such an inspiration to runners across the globe.
This is also the same single-mindedness she applied to helping us test the adizero Pro during its development, meaning she has played an important role in making it a shoe that is perfectly suited to helping elite runners achieve new personal bests.
“In 2006, I trained with my first pair of adidas.”
It wasn’t long after she started running again, mentored by Linah Chesire, former Kenyan competitive runner, that Mary picked up her first adidas running shoes. So focussed on training, she can’t even remember what model it was. But she does recall being in love with a pair of Blue Ingalas. “The perfect fit. Perfect comfort. And so beautiful!” she laughs.
“Just trying adizero Pro for a few days, I knew they’d be great for New York.”
“You need three long runs and three workouts on the track to know if a shoe is good for a race,” says Mary. “Straight away the adizero Pros were comfortable. They fit. They were lightweight. That meant I was confident in them. I stopped thinking about the shoes and could focus on the run.”
“The fit. The comfort. The weight. It’s as if they were made just for me!”
“[During the testing process] I felt that the adidas team was so receptive. They really listened to my feedback! So, in the end, it’s almost as if the shoe was made just for me!”
"If it's good for running in Kenya, it's good for anywhere else!"
Part of the testing she subjected the Pros to were her regular 30km+ runs along rough Kenyan roads. Not to mention lightning-paced track sessions and vicious hill repeats. They handled everything she threw at them. This further reinforced that the Pros were well suited to a variety of race terrain and an intense level of training.
“I can put trust in them, like I put trust in myself.”
Feeling confident in her new racing shoes, Mary took the Pro to the New York Marathon. Quite an arena for their first international competitive test. But there was no stage fright from the shoes or Mary. “I ran with them in NY and I got second place! So this made me feel super comfortable with the shoes. I know I can put trust in them, like I put trust in myself.”
“I’m just getting warmed up"
Mary is certainly not one for revelling in past victories. She's always looking forward; forever grafting to add to her already jaw-dropping collection of marathon major winner's medals – and with the Pro on her feet, she has another weapon in her arsenal to help her do that. "I’m prepared to do the work to improve on what I have achieved. I’m just getting warmed up.”
There's that dedication again, and given how far it's taken her – and the Pros – you'd be crazy to bet against her adding to her medal haul in 2020.
Mary’s highlights so far.
- 2006 - Wins Seville Half Marathon.
- 2007 - Earns silver at World Road Running Championships.
- 2008 - Has her first child, Jared.
- 2009 - Wins Lille Half Marathon in 1:07:00 (7th fastest of all time).
- Wins the World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham, breaking the championship record.
- 2010 - Wins Abu Dhabi Half Marathon.
- Wins Berlin 25 kilometre race, setting a new world record.
- Wins Portugal Half Marathon. - Comes third in her first New York City Marathon.
- 2011 - Wins Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, setting a world record of 1:05:50.
- Wins London Marathon in 2:19:17, becoming the fourth fastest woman ever.
- Comes third in the New York City Marathon.
- 2012 - Wins London Marathon in 2:18:37, becoming the third fastest woman ever.
- 2013 - Has her second child, Samantha.
- 2014 - Wins New York City Marathon in 2:25:07.
- 2015 - Comes second in London Marathon.
- 2016 - Wins New York City Marathon in 2:24:26.
- 2017 - Wins London Marathon, setting a new world record of 2:17:01.
- 2018 - Wins New York City Marathon in 2:22:48.
- 2019 - Comes second in the New York City Marathon in the adizero Pros.