Rita Jeptoo’s Boston Marathon three-peat is a fitting climax to the fairytale story of a deprived family rising from the ashes of abject poverty to financial freedom spurred by a daughter’s hard work.
The tear’s that flowed on her mother’s cheeks at Eldoret’s Moi International Airport while welcoming the new Boston Marathon course record holder on Thursday attested to the long struggle the family went through before Jeptoo’s big break.
“It (Boston Marathon success) marked the end of a troublesome past in our daughter’s journey into athletics greatness. She had very challenging times,” Jeptoo’s mother Grace Lagat said as tears of joy drowned memories of her family’s troubled past.
Lagat, a devout Christian who always quotes the Bible to journalists during the now all-too-familiar interviews, said Jeptoo’s victory in Boston on Monday was a prayer answered.
Jeptoo arrived in Eldoret to a rapturous welcome by, among others, current and former World 800 metres champions Eunice Sum and Janeth Jepkosgei along with World 5,000m silver medalist Mercy Cherono.
Jeptoo spoke of how she kept communicating with her training partner Jemimah Sumgong, who finished third, and former winner Sharon Cherop on her way to victory in a new course record time of 2:18:57.
Margaret Okayo held the old record of 2:20:42 that stood for 12-year.
“We kept communicating on who would be in front for 10km splits and at what pace. The tactic kept us going and helped me win the race,” said the Nandi-born athlete.
The 33-year-old first born in a family of seven said that Kenyan women are capable of bettering Mary Keitany’s national record (2:18:37) and even targeting Briton Paula Radcliffe’s long standing world record time of 2:15:25.
“Going by current form of Kenyan women, it’s possible to lower the national record. It may be early to predict a world record attack but it is imminent,” she said.