The script is going very much the way of Kenya’s new Tokyo Marathon champion Sarah Chepchirchir.
Before winning Sunday’s Tokyo race in a new course record (two hours, 19 minutes and 47 seconds), personal best time and the first sub-2:20 to be run in Japan, Chepchirchir, who is also the Lisbon Marathon champion, said she was eyeing a podium finish in her first World Marathon Majors race and then a ticket to the IAAF World Championships that will be held in London from August 4 to 13.
“I will be running this race with my aim to have good time so that I can be selected in the Kenyan team that will be heading to London for the World Championships in August,” said 32-year-old Chepchirchir before catching the flight to Tokyo last week.
She said that she was motivated by training alongside Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong, who also happens to be her sister in-law, in Kapsabet, Nandi County.
“When I was told that I will be on the Tokyo Marathon start list, I started my training in November and there was no holiday season for me. I had a programme to follow and I’m going there well prepared,” said the athlete who is coached by her brother Noah Talam under the Italian Rosa Associati stable.
Training with Sumgong has given her a lot of motivation and she wants to be like the Olympic champion one day.
“Training with Sumgong gives me a lot of motivation and I know very soon I will be at the top like her in terms of performance,” she said.
Chepchirchir was born in Siwo, Kilibwoni, before started her career of running in Siwo Primary School and St Mary’s High School, Kapsabet.
She was introduced to running by a friend who told her athletics had good money and she opted to train for road races which saw her travel outside the country and had three top finish in France in 2008.
Training under her brother’s watch, she says, is tough, strict and at the same time good as he only wants the best from his athletes.
“When we get to training, our coach is strict and there is no business of saying that I’m his sister or Sumgong is his wife. It’s serious business and he just wants us to run well since it’s a field of high competition.”
Last year, Chepchirchir won the Lisbon Marathon after running 2:24:13.
Her goal was to run her personal best this year, which she did with the 2:19:47 in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, as Chepchirchir shattered the women’s course record, her compatriot Wilson Kipsang gave Kenya and his home county of Elgeyo-Marakwet something to celebrate, also with a course record 2:03:58, despite falling outside his intended world record target of 2:02:50.
“I was strong and I wanted to break the world record but it was really windy. The course was nice and I will definitely come back here to compete,” said Kipsang.