Kenya’s new Amsterdam Marathon champion and course record holder Lawrence Cherono believes he is now primed for the World Marathon Majors after an amazing run on the streets of the Dutch capital last Sunday.
Cherono was welcomed back home Wednesday with song and dance as family members and training mates flocked the Eldoret International Airport to receive him.
The athlete was given the traditional sip of sour, ceremonial milk and was adorned in the famous Kalenjin ceremonial plant Sinendet.
The Kaptagat-based runner said he was happy to be back home not only as a winner, but also a course record holder.
Cherono broke the course record set just last year by compatriot Daniel Wanjiru who clocked two hours, five minutes and 21 seconds, a time Cherono improved to 2:05:09.
He led a Kenyan sweep on Sunday ahead of Nobert Kigen (2:05:13) and Abraham Kiptum (2:05:26).
“I’m very happy because I came back home a champion after breaking a course record. I was not after the course record because I really wanted to win the race but I was surprised when lowered it,” said Cherono.
He said that the race was very tough but his good training and preparations gave him a lot of endurance in the last few kilometres.
“It was a tough race and I was in a group of about 20 athletes at the start where I was strong and I loved the pace we started with. After the 28km mark, where the pacemakers dropped, I increased my pace and at least 12 of us were in the lead group and I had to do my calculation well in the last few kilometres that’s why I won the race,” he said.
In the women’s race, Ethiopia’s Tadelech Bekele won in 2:21:54 ahead of Kenya’s Gladys Chesir (2:24:51) while Azmera Abreha, also of Ethiopia, was third in 2:25:23.
The Eldoret airport was a hive of activity as another champion, Sarah Chepchirchir, who retained her Lisbon Marathon title, also arrived back home although she left the airport quietly without any celebrations, saying that she will invite her friends later for a small party.
“I’m happy I was able to retain my title in Lisbon though the conditions were tough,” she told Nation Sport.
“It was very hot but I was able to do my best. Maybe, I will be inviting my friends later to celebrate, but for now I want to focus on my training as I look forward to next season,” said Chepchirchir, who also won this year’s Tokyo Marathon.