Returning into athletics career after maternity leave, Cynthia Jerop is not a typical athlete, running the shows across the world but her enthusiasm into athletics was inspired by her late mother who discovered her talent at a tender age.
The former world cross country junior bronze medalist has ensured that the legacy of her late mother Rhoda Bulbul is kept safe and secured as she runs the shows across the world to earn a profitable life, remembering in her heydays when she could be woken up to go for morning training.
Through her inspiration, Jerop decided to use her name Bulbul in all her social media platforms including Facebook just to remember her in all endeavors.
“Am slowly returning into action, with the second marathon set to kick in in August, I want to compete well. And is the best way I can remember my mother. I use her name in social media to appreciate the efforts she made to ensure my success,” she said.
It was tears of sorrow that when her career picked up, winning races across the world, her mother, the mentor, who served as her coach passed on, leaving her languishing, thinking on how to start a new life without her. Almost giving up her career but as young as she was, she had to extend her training skills to secure a chance in marathons.
“I was stressed out, failing in so many races and my activities. It was one of the worst moments in my life when my mother, who was the motivator, the only person I looked upon for guidance and training but once she died, All the systems were set back to factory settings, thinking on how I could start a new life without her but I had to think of my future without her and kept the spirit of never giving up,” said Jerop.
She says that her mother saw the potential in her as an athlete and started training her every morning before going to school and in the evening.
“She used to ride a bicycle as I was running. That is the kind of training I started with. Imagine my mother on a bicycle either behind or in front to ensure that I keep the pace with her. It was hard but I had to endure the pain and now even if she is not here with me as I enjoy the fruits of her labour, I run for her,” she added.
She said that she saw her talent while in class five at Tulon primary school in Nandi County and decided to nurture it.
“At that time, I was young but she forced me to train to say I will be the greatest runner that will be celebrated across the world and here I am in her absence being celebrated. She motivated me, saying that giving up is not a solution in life but meant for the cowards. Unfortunately, she died without enjoying her fruits she laboured for,” she said.
Jerop stormed into the limelight when she won bronze at the World Cross Country championships in 2009 in the junior category.
Since 2009, it took long for her to run after switching to road races to earn money as she claims there is no money on track but during the 2012 Shinda Na Rabbit, she finished 4th in 10,000m.
In 2015 her mother’s condition was deteriorating and took a break in athletics where her mother wanted to stay with her at home. Unfortunately, she passed on in 2016 forcing her to remain without a mentor and motivator.
“The month of April 2016 will always be in my memories. My mother died and I had no one to train me. following her death, I had to take care of our family,” she said.
Following the recovery from the pain, she decided to take on road running to earn money and went ahead to win the 2017 Eindhoven half marathon. But 2018 was her year of success when she first won the Inaugural Kaptagat Half marathon, went ahead to claim the Chemususu 10km title before winding the year with Kass International marathon win.
She also won the 2017 inaugural Bomet half marathon.
In 2020, before coronavirus hit the sporting world, she was preparing for the Seoul Marathon that was postponed due to the virus. Recovering from a tendon injury that has kept her out of competition for almost a year, Jerop was optimistic that she could have run better.
“Before the injury, I had won silver at the Venice marathon and I was preparing for the Seoul marathon but the pandemic, just like any other sports person across the world, was affected in a big way,” she said.
In 2018 she also finished second at the annual Standard Chartered Nairobi marathon.
She said that she was well prepared for Seoul, which was to take place on 22nd March in Korea after Venice where she finished second behind champion Judith Kosgei.
“After the postponement, I now take on light training like 15km to 21km especially during morning hours never knowing where I will start the race but I have to be ready. Apart from training, I engage in maize, vegetable to kill boredom,” she said.
“Before the race cancellation, I was fit enough to win the Seoul title with my personal best. My training programme so far has been going on fine despite doing little and I am confident that I will do well when competition resumes,” she said.
The Kapsabet based runner enjoys her Personal best of 2:25.54 set in 2019 when she was second at the Los Angeles Marathon after losing to Ethiopia’s Askale Merachi (2:24.11) as Kenyan Lucy Karimi (2:26.15) was third.
“I wanted my PB but that will have to wait for a long,” said the former Hannover half marathon runner.
In 2019, she won the Madoka half marathon (78.55) after defeating then then defending champion Delvine Maringor (79.20), winner used to train with Olympic marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir, Eindhoven Marathon winner Georgina Rono and Alice Cherono before the coronavirus made it impossible to work in groups.
Jerop also finished second at the Tubonglore half marathon in 73:22 behind Nancy Jelagat- (71:59) with Zeddy Cherop completing the podium in 74:38.
“It has been my dream, just like other athletes across the world will want to compete at the marathon majors and that will be my dream. I have been trying my best to secure an opportunity for such an event to come my way,” said Jerop.
The World Marathon majors consists of Tokyo, Berlin, London, Chicago, Boston and New York City marathons.