Tag Archives: Lornah Kiplagat

Mary Keitany: from shoeless prodigy to top of the world

Kenya’s Mary Keitany, the holder of the world marathon record in a women-only race, generously agreed to donate some of her racing kit to the World Athletics Heritage Collection following her retirement in September.

Since the beginning of December, Keitany’s singlet, shorts and shoes from her fourth and final New York City Marathon victory in 2018 have been on display in the 3D virtual Museum of World Athletics (MOWA).

We are delighted to celebrate her donation by recapping the career of one of the all-time greats of road running.

‘If I don’t do this, then what?’

Hailing from Baringo County, a province immediately to the east of the focal point for Kenyan running in Eldoret, there are many well-known and successful athletes who come from the area, but Keitany’s impoverished childhood made it initially unlikely that she was going to join their number.

She elaborated on her tough childhood in a lengthy interview with The New York Times in 2019 – details of which are only precised here – and described living in a home without electricity or any other basic amenities, as well as having no shoes for much of her childhood.

Her household tasks as a very young child included walking several kilometres to a nearby river to haul pails of water home for cooking and cleaning.

Keitany’s parents, both struggling subsistence farmers, were unable to afford even the modest school fees for her to continue her education from her mid-teens so, at the age of 15, to help support her parents and five siblings, she left and went to work as a live-in maid almost 20 kilometres away, caring for three infants and sometimes not seeing her family for several months at a time.

“It was not an easy job,” reflected Keitany. “But I was getting money to give to my parents. I was thinking, ‘If I don’t do this, then what?’”

Mary Keitany training in Iten

Hidden talent out in the open

She returned to school after two years when a relative was able to help financially and Keitany started to attend the National Hidden Talents Academy near Nairobi, a community-based secondary school that primarily assists orphaned and vulnerable children.

The school had a strong emphasis on physical education, which continues to this day, and it has produced several Kenyan internationals in a variety of sports. Keitany’s precocious talent as a runner, which had been evident in her early teens prior to the enforced two-year hiatus, came to the fore.

After graduating from high school in her early 20s, Keitany was then talent-spotted in local races and assisted by the Kenyan international runner Lenah Cheruiyot, who was seventh in the 2002 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships, and during the early part of 2006 she took a gamble and became a full-time runner.

After eight months of hard training and sharing a cramped one-bedroom house with three other runners, Keitany made her first overseas trip and caused a minor sensation by winning the relatively low-key Sevilla-Los Palacios Half Marathon in southern Spain – not to be confused with the much better known EDP Sevilla Half Marathon – by over two minutes in 1:09:06, a course record that exists to this day ahead of the 2021 edition on 19 December.

The words ‘unknown Kenyan’ are too often used to hide a lack of research or information but in this instance, it was a most appropriate phrase and, amid rumours at the time that the course was short because of Keitany’s super-quick time on the circuit, it bought her to the attention of both athletics aficionados and race promoters alike.

In the first nine months of 2007, Keitany proved that her debut international race had been no fluke as she rattled off another five half marathon victories in six outings at races in Portugal, Spain and France, also reducing her best to 1:08:36.

Keitany takes silver in Udine

This streak of success earned her a place on the Kenyan team at the 2007 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in the Italian city of Udine – an accolade she subsequently admitted as being among her wildest dreams, despite her ambition to be a top-flight runner 12 months before – and she showed her considerable mettle to finish second behind the Netherlands’ Lornah Kiplagat and bank a cheque for a life-changing $15,000.

Mary Keitany at the 2007 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Udine

To now give a complete narrative of the next 12 years of Keitany’s superb competitive running career through to her last race, the 2019 New York City Marathon, would take a book and cannot be done justice in just a few hundred words.

However, it was apposite that her running career should finish in the Big Apple at arguably the world’s most famous race over the classic distance, as it is this event with which she is probably most closely associated.

After finishing third in New York on her marathon debut in 2010 – in the wake of her win at the 2009 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in 1:06:36 which, at the time, was the second fastest mark ever on a record-legal course and an African record – Keitany went on to win the New York City Marathon on three consecutive occasions between 2014 and 2016 and then again in 2018.

To this day, she remains the only woman other than the incomparable Grete Waitz to have triumphed in New York more than three times.

Keitany also made her mark in the London Marathon. Her first triumph there came in 2011 and further victories in the British capital came in 2012 and 2017.

Mary Keitany wins the 2018 New York City Marathon, in kit she has donated to the World Athletics Heritage Collection

Record runs in London and RAK

She continues to hold the women-only marathon world record with a time of 2:17:01 set when she completed her hat-trick of London wins four years ago.

Another particularly notable accolade during her illustrious career was setting a world half marathon record of 1:05:50 at the 2011 RAK Half Marathon.

Perhaps the only blemish on Keitany’s competitive record is that she never climbed the podium at an Olympic Games.

At the London 2012 Olympic Games, she started arguably as the favourite having returned to the city with a world-leading 2:18:37 from the London Marathon, albeit on a different course, four months earlier. She was part of a leading quartet of runners at 40km but was the luckless member of the group to miss out in the battle for the medals over the final two kilometres and crossed the line in fourth place.

In 2016, she was named as a non-travelling reserve for the Kenyan contingent going to Rio, but Keitany had her sights set on challenging for a place on the Tokyo team before the pandemic, and a cruelly timed back injury, intervened.

In September this year – with her 40th birthday looming on 18 January 2022 – Keitany decided to call time on her outstanding career and announced the end of her professional running in a valedictory press release.

“After my successful 2019, when I had some good results including second place in New York, I was hopeful that I could still be very competitive internationally for several more years even though I am in my late 30s,” she commented.

“However, I’m sad to say, a back injury that I suffered in late 2019 made a decision about my retirement for me. I couldn’t get the treatment I wanted in Europe because of the pandemic-related travel restrictions last year and every time I thought I had got over the injury and started training hard, it became a problem again.”

Sadly, Keitany will no longer be seen on the start line of a major marathon but nevertheless she leaves behind a host of memorable performances that have assured her of a place in the pantheon of road running greats.

Peres Jepchirchir targets the New York City Marathon title

Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir has been in stellar form over the last two seasons, and will be hoping to wrap up the year on a high at the 50th edition of the New York City Marathon that will be held on Sunday (7) in New York.

The 27 year comes to the TCS New York Marathon off not only winning the Olympic gold in Tokyo but six straight road race wins in her last six races.

“2021 has already been a magical year, and I am excited that it is not yet over,” Jepchirchir said in a New York Road Runners press release. “The excitement in Kenya around my performance in the Olympic Games has been very high, and I know that a victory in New York will mean so much to the people of Kenya.”

She claimed Olympic gold in on the course at the Tokyo games, to add on to her two record World half marathon titles, the last of which she won in 2020. Tegla Loroupe, Paula Radcliffe, and Lornah Kiplagat are the only women to win more than one half marathon world title.

Jepchirchir comes to this race with a personal best of 2:17.16 that she got at the 2020 Valencia Marathon. She is the fastest athlete on paper and she will be joined by Nancy Kiprop also from Kenya who was fourth the last time the race was held in 2019, and Viola Lagat, the younger sister of five-time Olympian Bernard Lagat.

WHO IS Yalemzerf Yehualaw?

Yalemzerf Yehualaw may only have been running internationally for the past couple of years but her journey in the sport began when she was at school.

Growing up in West Gojjam, in a village in the Amhara region of Ethiopia north of Addis Ababa, she was the eldest of six siblings and showed her talent for athletics with wins on the track, road and cross country.

Winning 3000m and 5000m youth titles, the NN Running Team has explained, saw her talent recognised and she formed part of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation Academy system in Addis Ababa.

Then in 2017 she joined coach Tessema Abshero. “Many Ethiopian athletes have a natural gift,” Abshero told the NN Running Team, “but Yalemzerf had three very good qualities; speed, endurance and good core strength.”
Yehualaw worked towards her first overseas race, which was to be the 2019 Rabat Half Marathon. There she ran 1:09:13 to win by almost three minutes and then she returned to Ethiopia to compete over 10,000m on the track at the Ethiopian Championships, finishing fifth in 32:21.0 in a race won by Letesenbet Gidey, who would go on to break world records in the 5000m and 10,000m.

Later that year Yehualaw secured a place on the Ethiopian team for the African Games, which meant a return to Rabat and another win as, clocking 1:10:26, she broke the Games record. Her next race was the Delhi Half Marathon, where she improved her PB to 1:06:01 before a 10km win at the Great Ethiopian Run (31:55). She brought 2019 to a close with another win, clocking 1:07:34 at the Xiamen Half Marathon in China.

The year 2020 started with a sixth-place finish at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon despite stomach problems and she continued her preparations for the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland. But the pandemic forced the global event’s postponement and Yehualaw went back to train in her home village. Groups gradually returned to training in Addis Ababa and Yehualaw’s focus remained on the World Half Marathon Championships, rescheduled for October.

Her coach believed she could win a medal there and he was right, as Yehualaw improved to a PB of 1:05:19 to get bronze, despite slipping in the closing stages, as race winner Peres Jepchirchir ran a women-only world record of 1:05.16.

Just six weeks later, Yehualaw was back in action at the Delhi Half Marathon and this time she claimed the win, again running a PB of 1:04.46 which at that time was the second-fastest ever women’s half marathon. She ended the year in style by winning the Nationale-Nederlanden San Silvestre Vallecana 10km in Madrid in 31:17.

Yehualaw picked up from where she left off in 2021, winning the 10,000m at the Olympic candidate trial competition before a return to the roads. In Istanbul in April she went quicker still in the half marathon, improving to 1:04:40 for a time which then placed her third on the world all-time list.
Her Olympic hopes were dashed when she placed fourth in the Ethiopian Trials 10,000m and did not make the team for the Games in Tokyo but she instead put her energy into her next road race – the Antrim Coast Half Marathon.
After a spell spent training in Seefeld in Austria, Yehualaw made the trip to Northern Ireland with her eye on Chepngetich’s world record mark. She remained on pace throughout the race and her dream was realized when she crossed the finish line with a time of 1:03.44 on the clock. No other woman has ever run under 64 minutes for the distance.

“I have tried twice before to break the world record but it didn’t happen,” she said on the live BBC stream. “I’m so happy it happened today in Larne.”

STATS

World half marathon record progression (mixed)

1:06:44 Elana Meyer (RSA) Tokyo 1999
1:06:25 Lornah Kiplagat (NED) Udine 2007
1:05:50 Mary Keitany (KEN) Ras Al Khaimah 2011
1:05:12 Florence Kiplagat (KEN) Barcelona 2014
1:05:09 Florence Kiplagat (KEN) Barcelona 2015
1:05:06 Peres Jepchirchir (KEN) Ras Al Khaimah 2017
1:04:52 Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN) Prague 2017
1:04:51 Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN) Valencia 2017
1:04:31 Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) Ras Al Khaimah 2020
1:04:02 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) Istanbul 2021**
1:03:44 Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) Larne 2021**

World half marathon all-time list

1:03:44 Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) Larne 2021
1:04:02 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) Istanbul 2021
1:04:31 Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) Ras Al Khaimah 2020
1:04:49 Brigid Kosgei (KEN) Ras Al Khaimah 2020
1:04:51 Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN) Valencia 2017
1:04:51 Hellen Obiri (KEN) Istanbul 2021
1:04:52 Fancy Chemutai (KEN) Ras Al Khaimah 2018
1:04:55 Mary Keitany (KEN) Ras Al Khaimah 2018
1:05:04 Joan Melly (KEN) Prague 2018
1:05:06 Peres Jepchirchir (KEN) Ras Al Khaimah 2017

Yalemzerf Yehualaw’s progression

(half marathon)
2019: 1:06:01
2020: 1:04:46
2021: 1:03:44

Source: keirradnedge.com/

Hassan now sets her sights on the Copenhagen Half Marathon

After winning the 3000m at the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018 in a world-leading and national record 8:27.50, Sifan Hassan will turn her attention to the roads and will run the Copenhagen Half Marathon – a five star certified road race by European Athletics Running for All – next Sunday (16).

Hassan has not raced over anything longer than 5000m this year, the distance at which she set a European record of 14:22.34 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat in July, so she is approaching the race with a mixture of trepidation and curiosity.

“It will be my first race on the roads for a long time and I’m interested to see how it will go. All my training has been for the track but, as you can see, I am in good shape. I will have to try to pace myself and I am not quite sure of the strategy, but I will get some advice and I am sure it will be fun,” said Hassan, after her victory in Ostrava where she was racing for Team Europe.

It will have been almost five years since Hassan last raced on the roads so the change of surface will be metaphorically and perhaps literally, a shock to the system but Hassan is out to enjoy the experience.

“It’s not my first half marathon, I did one before back in 2011 when I was 18 years old and I had also just started running on the track. It was in Eindhoven and I ran almost flat out for the first two kilometres and then was dying at that point but I was determined to finish and did so. In fact, I won the race in around 77 minutes (actually 1:17:10).

“I’m expecting to do better in Copenhagen but I don’t know what time I will run,” she added, deliberately not raising expectations but it’s not unreasonable to expect that Hassan will do well on the super-fast course in the Danish capital.

The European best for the year is 1:08:58 by Lonah Chemtai Salpeter – the Israeli will return to racing in October and is currently mulling over her options over which half marathon to contest – when she finished as the first European at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia at the end of March.

However, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that Hassan could top that, although adding another Dutch record to her list of accolades might be a tall order. This record currently stands at 1:06:25 to Lornah Kiplagat, which was a world record when she ran it to win at the 2007 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Udine, Italy.

Hassan’s coach Alberto Salazar said last week that he could foresee her, “running between 69 and 70 minutes (in Copenhagen) although she has not been training specifically for a half marathon.”

However, Salazar advised that despite her run in the Copenhagen Half Marathon that her championship ambitions remain very much focused on the track for the next two years albeit at the longer distances. “I definitely see Sifan as very competitive in the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and after that we shall have to wait and see,” said the American.

And while Hassan doesn’t look set to follow the pace at the very front of the elite women’s race on Sunday, the inclusion of the reigning European 5000m champion is still a boon for the organisers.

“Sifan Hassan is an amazing name to add to the line-up. She ranks among the greatest athletes in Europe and we are honoured that she has chosen the CPH Half to test herself over the half marathon distance”, said Copenhagen Half Marathon competition director Henrik Paulsen, when the announcement that Hassan had been added to the field was made on Friday.

Source: european-athletics.org

Wilson Kipsang tells Sports Kenya to complete Kamariny Stadium

Delay in completion of Kamariny Stadium has dealt a blow to glorious performances among Iten-based runners, Wilson Kipsang has said.

The former world marathon champion said Kamariny Stadium was the only public training facility for Iten-based runners.

Kipsang said runners training in the high altitude training base have been forced to travel to Tambach and Eldoret daily for training.

“Many athletes can’t afford Sh100 to travel to Tambach or Sh200 to travel to Eldoret on a daily basis. Many of them are young athletes struggling to make ends meet and make a name in the athletics world and they have given up,” Kipsang said.

The two-time Frankfurt and London Marathon champion said athletics fortunes have significantly dwindled in the two years Kamariny Stadium has been under construction.

Construction of the Sh257 million facility that was used by athletes from mostly North Rift counties, started in 2016 and was to be completed in October 2017.

Athletes have resorted to training on the roads, often causing traffic jams and risk being knocked down by motorists and motorcyclists.

“If you do a research on athletics performances in Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties today, you will agree that athletes have no training base,” Kipsang said, urging Sports Kenya to speed up the project. A section of athletes travel to University of Eldoret and Moi University Annex grounds in Eldoret, since High Altitude training stadium owned by Lornah Kiplagat is a private stadium and athletes pay to use the facility.

Elgeyo Marakwet Sports executive Anita Kimwatan said the county government is constructing an alternative training ground in Kiptingo near Kamariny.

Kimwatan said the murram track in Kiptungo will have changing rooms and will save the over 2,000 athletes training in Iten the costs of traveling long distances.

“Kamariny is iconic. It was to be completed in six months. It is unfortunate that it not complete,” she said.

But Kipsang said construction of the alternative training ground has also been dragging for many months. Sports PS Peter Kaberia toured the stadium in January and promised the project would be completed before end of April this year.

Caroline Chepkoech equals Lornah Kiplagat record as she lifts Falmouth Road Race title

Kenya’s Caroline Chepkoech breezed to her third-straight victory in the New Balance Falmouth Road Race that was held on Sunday (19) in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

The 24-year-old displayed a quiet confidence at the road race’s media event on Friday, August 17, only offering that she “felt good” before letting out a wry smile to the crowd at the Casino Wharf in Falmouth Heights.

After staying in the pack throughout the first three miles—easily the hilliest portion of the course—to cut down on wind resistance, Chepkoech pulled away over the final four miles. A few-foot lead quickly turned into a few hundred yards. Her closest competition, Margaret Wangari also from Kenya, faded in the distance behind every turn.

Chepkoech joined fellow Kenyan Lornah Kiplagat (2000-2002) as the only women to win the road race in three straight years when she cut the tape in 35:48, 46 seconds behind Kiplagat’s course record of 35:02, which was set in 2000, and nearly a minute ahead of Wangari  who crossed the line in 36:43.

“I’m very happy for winning this race. I’m so happy,” Chepkoech said following her win. “I want to say thank you to my family, my husband and all my teammates. Thank you so much.”

Another Kenyan Mary Wacera, closed the first podium three finishes in 37:17.

Chepkoech pocketed a cool $10,000 first-place prize and narrowly missed out on the bonus $5,000 from The Countdown, awarded to the top elite runner, male or female.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga Mourn Nicholas Bett

President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister joined Kenyans and sending the condolence messages to fallen former 400m hurdles champion Bett.

President Uhuru’s tweet had this to say, “Deeply saddened by the death of former 400m hurdles World Champion Nicholas Bett who died today in a tragic road accident.

Bett earned the country great honors in his outstanding victories. My deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to his family, relatives and friends”.

Former Prime Minister was more poignant marking the shock loss with deep, poetical words that both portrayed the impact Bett had on the athletics stage and the huge gap his passing has caused. Raila said, “Go well Bett. You went too fast too early and left our field poorer and weaker. May your spirit fire our athletes to greater exploits.

Other Kenyans continued their outpouring of grief on social media with the loss of Nicholas Bett leaving a huge dent. It is indeed a big loss to the Kenya and world at large.

Lornah Kiplagat the 2007 World Cross Country Championships also through her facebook account mourned the fallen hero, “First I was upset with people for rushing with news which might not be true and I was really hoping to hear from someone that it’s not true.

I’m saddened and shocked to hear that Kenya’s 2015 world 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett , 28, died in a car accident.

May His soul rest in peace. Condolences to his family,friends and to all in Kenya athletics.”

Bett died after the car he was driving hit a bump on the road leading to the car losing control and rolling several times. He was the only occupant in the car.

Uleerlaag wins Rift Valley Marathon Experience

Netherlands International Remko Uleerlaag won the first edition of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Rift Valley Marathon Experience charity race held on Friday (18) in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County.

With 30 Dutch athletes in the special race, raised over kshs 20 million in fundraising drive to help in several schools in Kenya under Unicef programme.

The 2014 Berlin marathon runner Uleelaag ran 3:17.17 in a race that started at Kessup Centre, along the meanders of Iten-Baringo road, going through the hard murram road in the villages before ending at Iten’s monumental “jogoo” area near High Altitude Training Centre.

The 43 year old Uleelang, who was making his maiden visit to Kenya, declared himself Kibet due to his superlative performance.

“I had a great race in a nice environment. It was the best course of my life,” said the 2008 Beijing marathon runner who holds best marathon time of 2:38.20 set in Rotterdam marathon in 2014.

After arriving in the country on Monday, he had to take a rest to get used to the environment before embarking on training that paid off.

“Most of time I run for recreation since I am a Physio-therapist and today’s course was good for recreation. Running in up and down hill and tough terrain course. Remember it was rainy at night but above all, achieving the goal of collect a lot of money to support Kenyan children,” added Uleelaang.

Experienced Uleelaang led the podium with Malko Koers coming in second, half an hour later clocking 3:47.44 as Aiter Heymans completed the podium in 3:56.31.

Race organizer led by former world half marathon champion Lornah Kiplagat and Dutch Unicef, said ten schools have been identified and put under the project to ensure that they get clean water, enhance hygiene

“The money collected in this project will be used by Unicef supply some schools with clean drinking water.

LEADING RESULTS

MEN

  1. Remko Uleerlaag  (NED) 3:17.17
  2. Malko Koers          (NED) 3:47.44
  3. Aiter Heymans      (NED) 3:56.31

Gudeta’s World Half Marathon Championships record ratified

The International Athletics Association of Federations (IAAF) confirmed on Monday (14) that the world record that was set by Ethiopian Netsanet Gudeta on March 24 when she smashed the women’s only race world record at the world half marathon championships in Valencia, Spain.

Gudeta got a record of 1:06.11 to break a former record of 1:06.25 that was set by Dutch Lornah Kiplagat on October 14, 2007.
the 27 year-old got her first success in senior competitions after she had been the 4th place in Cardiff (UK) in 2016.
The winner’s podium was completed by Kenyan Jocyline Jepkosgei (silver medal) and Pauline Kamulu (bronze).
IAAF also ratified the world record by indoors got by the male 4×400 relay team of Poland, composed by Karol Zalewski, Rafal Omelko, Lukasz Krawczuk and Jakub Krzewina on March 4 at the Indoor Championship in Birmingham, UK with 3:01.77.
The Polish quartet won and set their record over US Kyle Clemons, David Verburg, Kind Butler and Calvin Smith, who got 3:02.13 in Sopot, Poland on March 9, 2014.

Kebede smashes Lornah Kiplagat record of eleven years as she lifts world Half Marathon title

Ethiopia’s Netsanet Gudeta Kebede broke the women’s –only world record at the World Half Marathon that was held on Saturday (24) in Valencia, Spain.

Kebede set the new record when she broke the course record of 1:06.25 that was set eleven years ago with Lornah Kiplagat from Netherlands as she cut the tape in new record of 1:06.11.

She was followed by World women’s half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei who crossed the line in 1:06.54 with Pauline Kaveke Kamulu closing the podium three with a personal best of 1:06.56.

Former Kenyan now trading for Bahrain Eunice Chebichii Chumba took fourth place with a season best of 1:07.17 and was followed by Ethiopian Zeinaba Yimer in fifth place with a personal best of 1:08.07

LEADING RESULTS
WOMEN:

  1. Netsanet Gudeta Kebede    (ETH) 1:06.11
  2. Joyciline Jepkosgei              (KEN) 1:06.54
  3. Pauline Kaveke Kamulu     (KEN) 1:06.07
  4. Eunice Chebichii Chumba (BAH) 1:07.17
  5. Zeinaba Yimer                      (ETH) 1:08.07