Kenyan runner Edna Kiplagat, who trains in Boulder, breaks the tape as she crosses the finish line of the New York City Marathon s professional women s
Kenyan runner Edna Kiplagat, who trains in Boulder, breaks the tape as she crosses the finish line of the New York City Marathon s professional women s division on Sunday. ( Kathy Willens )

Though she races for her home country, Kenya, Edna Kiplagat lived and trained in Boulder in the months leading up to her victory at the New York City Marathon on Sunday.

The former Bolder Boulder winner ran the New York race in 2:28:20.

"The last two miles, it was starting to be pretty competitive, and hilly," Kiplagat said after returning to Colorado on Monday evening. "I tried to pull away from them when it was flat and downhill. That's when I found I was feeling stronger."

Kiplagat is a Kenyan national, but has been living in Boulder the past five months to train with her husband and coach, Gilbert Koech, and manager Brendan Reilly, of Boulder Wave.

Reilly said he wouldn't usually say one of the runners he represents stands a good chance of winning ahead of time, but, in this case, he had a good feeling about Kiplagat's chances.

"Everything that I knew from the race, to her fitness, to the runs she did on Magnolia... she just looked fabulous," Reilly said. "She looked strong, relaxed, everything."

Longtime local runner Scott Winston said he's seen Kiplagat and Koech out on the trails around town and also watched her race on television on Sunday.

"She's a great runner, very fluid, very strong, great to watch," Winston said

Winston said training on the rolling terrain here in Boulder probably helped Kiplagat in this marathon.

"You run a race like New York -- New York is not a fast, flat course," Winston said. "It's an undulating course. I think that's why Edna did so well."

Kiplagat has been in Boulder since mid-June; she said she's been running, often with Koech, on Magnolia Road, up Table Mesa and from Eldorado Springs. Reilly said Koech is also a strong runner; he won the San Antonio Marathon in 2009.

"He is a very good racer himself," Reilly said of Koech. "He kind of put his career on hold to get her ready for this."

The couple has two children, but since they couldn't obtain visas for them this year, Koech's sister is taking care of them in their hometown of Iten, Kenya. They hope to get visas for the children next year so the whole family can come to Boulder when Kiplagat and Koech return to train.

Kiplagat also won the Los Angeles Marathon in March; in 2007, she won the Bolder Boulder. Reilly said she's been training on and off here for years.

"There are a lot of international runners who come here to train because of the environment, the altitude, great trails, supportive running community," Winston said. "It's always good to see people that either live here or train here win the big races, and there's been a number of them."