Marathon record holder Mary Keitany retires due to back injury

LONDON -- Marathon runner Mary Keitany retired from the sport Wednesday because of a back injury, ending a career in which she won multiple races in London and New York and set the world record for a women-only race.

The 39-year-old Kenyan said pandemic-related travel restrictions have stopped her from coming to Europe to get treatment on an injury suffered in 2019.

"Every time I thought I had got over the injury and started training hard, it became a problem again," Keitany said. "So now is the time to say goodbye -- if only as an elite runner -- to the sport I love so much."

Keitany won the London Marathon three times, in 2011, 2012 and 2017. In her victory in 2017, she finished in 2 hours, 17 minutes, 1 second. Only two women -- Brigid Kosgei and Paula Radcliffe -- have run a marathon quicker, and they were in races containing male pacesetters.

World Athletics makes a distinction between the record times set by Keitany and Kosgei, who ran the Chicago Marathon in 2:14:04.

Keitany was a four-time winner of the New York City Marathon (2014-16, '18) and won the world half marathon title in 2009.

She said she has no specific plans for the future and is looking forward to spending more time with her family.