The newly crowned Amsterdam Marathon champion Lawrence Cherono jetted back home on Tuesday to a heroic welcome.
Cherono was received by his family, friends and training mates at the Eldoret International Airport, who broke into song and dance, before giving him a sip of the Kalenjin traditional milk commonly known as mursik.
Cherono told the media that his preparation was good, enabling him to lower the course record in the Dutch capital.
"I did my training well since I came back from London Marathon, where I didn't perform well because I had an injury. I was ready to tackle the field ahead," said Cherono.
Cherono, 30, won the Amsterdam Marathon in 2:04:06, breaking his own course record by more than a minute, which he clocked last year.
Mule Wasihun of Ethiopia was second in 2:04:37, while compatriot Solomon Deksisa was third after clocking 2:04:40.
The Kaptagat-based athlete said that the presence of 10,000 metres world record holder Kenenisa Bekele prompted him to prepare well for the race.
“I saw the start list and the presence of Bekele made me train harder because I knew it will be a tough race," said Cherono.
Cherono said that he was confident that he could outwit the Ethiopians.
"I didn't want to run ahead of my competitors and I had to stay with them to the last few where kilometers, where I increased my pace and there was no reaction," said the athlete.
Bekele, the race favourite, dropped out of the race with a kilometre left after falling behind quite early.
Cherono said retaining the Amsterdam title and breaking his own course record was important for his career as he plots a major surprise in the next season.
"I will be waiting for my management to confirm if I will be participating in Honolulu Marathon later in December," said Cherono.
Tadelech Bekele of Ethiopia also successfully defended her women's title in a time of 2:23:07.
Kenya's Linet Masai, who was debuting, came in fifth position after clocking 2:23:46, while her compatriot Jackline Chepngeno was in sixth place in 2:24:38.