Justin Lagat caught up with Betsy Saina just before her trip to Tokyo Marathon. The Tokyo Marathon happens on March 5, 2023.
Betsy Saina, who represented Kenya -her country of birth – at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, at the Rio Olympics in 2016, and in other competitions up until 20th April 2021, became eligible to represent her new country -the US- in National Representative Competitions beginning from 07th June 2021.
She feels indebted to her new country for so many life-changing opportunities she realized since she joined Iowa State University, a University that has inducted her into its Athletics Hall of Fame.
This weekend, at the 2023 Tokyo Marathon in Japan, the first World Marathon Majors race this year, she will be flying the US flag.
Below is a brief interview RunBlogRun had with her as she left the country on Tuesday (28th February).
RunBlogRun: Congratulations on getting inducted into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame. How does that make you feel?
Betsy Saina: Honestly, I am indeed super excited. Such honors are special. It brings back memories of how I strayed my journey at Iowa State. I am not taking it for granted. I can’t wait to head there and get it together with my other alumni. This honor will always be special. It’s not always easy to be inducted, and I feel it is a special gift that can be forever in my heart and memories.
RunBlogRun: Going to your first marathon after a long break this week, what will be your goal/target at the Tokyo Marathon?
Betsy Saina: Well, you know it has been a grind, as a woman, when we go for maternity leave, not everything will be guaranteed. I am so lucky to bounce back, and I am looking forward to going hard and seeing what the body got after that break. The training was really good, but I want to test and see. My goal is to go out and enjoy racing; the rest will take care of itself; I have done what I feel like it’s enough to go for a new PB. But, you know it’s Marathon, so I am not going to put lots of pressure on myself. Instead, I will just enjoy the race; a marathon is fun, and it hurts so good.
RunBlogRun: How have your preparations been going so far?
Betsy Saina: Training was one of the best, if I may put it that way. My coach took me from baby steps, and now we feel ready. As I said, it’s a marathon; you do everything right and allow the rest to settle in place. I hope I wake up on Sunday and be able to put it together the right way. otherwise, I had the best training block.
RunBlogRun: Are you looking forward to representing your new country, the USA, in Budapest?
Betsy Saina: I don’t know yet. My biggest goal is the Olympics next year, but for now, I will focus on this coming weekend and will decide what to do in the fall.
RunBlogRun: Your PB of 2:22.43 makes you one of the top ten American women of all time in the marathon. Does that make your opportunities better as a US citizen than when you were a Kenyan citizen?
Betsy Saina: Actually, that was not the goal (of getting US citizenship). You know, I got amazing opportunities from the US that changed my life. So, when I got my citizenship, I wanted to represent the US. Thirteen years ago, I didn’t even know how my life would be, but when I got an opportunity to go to the states, everything really changed, not only for me but for my entire family.