Tokyo Marathon champion and new course record holder Sarah Chepchirchir arrived back home Wednesday and immediately unveiled her plans which include pace-making for her sister-in-law, Olympic gold medallist Jemimah Sumgong, at next month’s London Marathon.
Chepchirchir, said winning last Sunday’s Tokyo Marathon, the year’s opening World Marathon Majors event, was a surprise to her although she says that she had done enough training before travelling to Japan.
“My win in Japan surprised me because I didn’t expect to win. I was even amazed that it reached a point I was running alone in the last few kilometres,” said the champion, who is under the Rosa and Associati management.
The athlete, who is based in Kapsabet, Nandi County, clocked a course record two hours 19 minutes and 47 seconds, the first sub-1:20 ever run in Japan.
She finished ahead of Ethiopian Birhane Dibaba who clocked 2:21:19 while Amane Gobena, also of Ethiopia, was third after running 2:23:09.
Chepchirchir said she was not afraid of anyone, not even the Ethiopians, because her strength and good motivation before leaving for Japan.
“I didn’t want to see who was in the race and their personal best times and I knew that the Ethiopians are tough. I had done enough training and my goal was to record a personal best time which eventually became a course record. I’m so happy about my performance,” said Chepchirchir, who is also the Lisbon Marathon champion.
There was no traditional grand welcome for Chepchirchir upon her arrival from Japan with the polite, rising star saying she still needs to accomplish more to deserve such treatment. She is now preparing to pace her in-law Sumgong who will be seeking to retain her London title in April.
Pacing in London will be advantageous if she is named in Kenya’s marathon team to the World Championships that will also be held in London, and her dream is to be like Sumgong.
“My career has just started and I have a long way to go. As I train with Sumgong, it really motivates me because soon I will be a star like her and all that depends with how hard you work,” she added.
“My secret for good results is training well and being disciplined. I listen to my coach despite the fact that he is my brother,” she said.