World Half Marathon champion Jepchirchir reflects on past 5 years of her career
World Half Marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir has been reflecting on the last five years of her career, terming them the best in her life. After being named Kenya’s 2020 Outstanding Sportswoman of the Year last Saturday, Jepchirchir said: “Ni God tu (It’s all God’s grace).”
For a girl who was raised in Kericho County where her parents grew tea and maize and running to school was the norm, it is not hard to see how far she has come.
Jepchirchir announced herself to the world in 2016 when she won the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. More was to come in 2017 when she broke the world half marathon record in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Emirates clocking 1:05.06 to lower the previous record held by another Kenya Mary Keitany by seven seconds.
“I will be lying if I say I knew I was pregnant when I broke that record,” Jepchirchir revealed to People Sport after the 2020 Sports Personality of the Year awards gala in Naivasha.
For Jepchirchir it was a double dose of good news when her husband Davis Ngeno, once a competitive runner himself, made the revelation about the pregnancy immediately after the race .
“A few weeks into the race, I was feeling a bit unwell. I wanted to go the hospital, but he told me not to since anyone kind of medication might react negatively with my body and therefore slow me down, I obliged,” recalls Jepchirchir So after the RAK half marathon that happened in February, Jepchirchir gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Natalia in October 2017.
“You see why I say 2017 was a blessed year? Those two instances are extremely special moments for me,” she explains. Nursing her body back to fitness after giving birth was never easy for the record holder.
“No lie, it was very difficult to get back after the break. But when I looked at my daughter, I got motivation to work harder and get back in shape. It was God’s plan for me, it’s such a pleasant feeling being a mother,” adds the runner who trains in Kapsabet.
Jepchirchir lowered the women’s only world half marathon record in Prague in September last year, clocking 1:05:34 and erasing the previous record of 1:06:11, in what was her biggest race after the maternity break.
More was to follow six weeks later as Jepchirchir shattered her own record, this time at the World Half Marathon Championships in Gydnia, Poland, where she also reclaimed her global title. She managed to lower the mark by 18 seconds. She knows too well the importance of a good support system.
“ I couldn’t have done it alone without my family. I dedicate last year’s success to my family especially my husband who has really supported me all through,” she offered.
2020 couldn’t h a v e e n d e d better for Jepchirchir who won the Valencia Marathon clocking an impressive 2:17:16 to scale to fifth in the all-time world list.
“Even w i t h Covid-19 which d a s h e d m a n y dreams, I want to count myself lucky. I know where God has brought me from and I know he has more plans for me.”
The diminutive athlete is also eyeing a more successful outing in 2021, the highlight being the Olympics. The delayed Olympic Games set for this summer in Japan is the ultimate target for Jepchirchir as she seeks to represent Kenya at the world’s largest sporting extravaganza.