TOKYO FALLEN, LONDON NEXT: Inspired by victory in Japan, Chepchirchir targets worlds Marathon in August

By Jonathan Komen: Tuesday, March 7th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
MARATHON-TOKYO-JPN Kenya's Sarah Chepchirchir (C, #55) crosses the finish line in the women's category of the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo on February 26, 2017. / AFP PHOTO

After chalking up a brilliant win in Tokyo Marathon recently, Sarah Chepchirchir now harbours lofty dreams.

One such dream is an Athletics Kenya call up into marathon squad for the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships set for London from August 4-12.

The 32-year-old Chepchirchir oozes confidence, perhaps buoyed by her training partner and sister-in-law Jemimah Sumgong, the Olympic marathon champion.

The duo are under Italian track and field agent Federico Rosa, son of the silver-haired Gabrielle Rosa, who managed Kenya’s marathon greats Paul Tergat and Moses Tanui.

Chepchirchir trains in Kapsabet alongside a strong group of marathoners that include Stanley Biwott, the former New York City Marathon champion.

Until the Tokyo Marathon showdown, she had been a sub-1:10 half marathoner since 2010 and had not finished a marathon until last year where she first ran 2:30:08 in Hamburg.

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She then improved to 2:24:13 in Lisbon in October last year, but the Japan victory has put her in the stratosphere.

Chepchirchir, running in just her third career marathon and first major, made a daring charge at 30km and went on to crush the field in 2:19:47, a personal best of over four minutes, also a course record.

Her quest for national team slot to London Worlds will wait until after Boston, London and probably Paris and Rotterdam marathons next month to see how other Kenyans will have performed.

“My next target is to be in the team for World Championships. I will do the pace setting in London, where Jemimah (Sumgong) will also line up next month. I will be happy if we both make the team for London,” said Chepchirchir, who comes from Siwo Village in Lessos area in Nandi County.

Unlike most Kenyan athletes, Chepchirchir opted to remain professional athlete than being recruited to Kenya Defence Forces, National Police Service or Kenya Prisons.

“After London Marathon, I will be happier to return there for Championships. I have trained with Jemimah and to be named into the team will be good for us. I know Jemimah now has the experience of competing in a championship competition like Olympics, which will help us a lot,” she said.

Not bad for a woman who made her international debut in 2008, winning Auray-Vannes half marathon and Maroilles 20km races in France.

She has 69:27 personal best time in 21km she ran at the Lille half marathon in 2010.

Chepchirchir won the 2013 Ndakaini marathon before placing third at Paris Half marathon in 2012. The runner, who always trains along the Namgoi Road near Kapsabet, said she was introduced into athletics by her friend Emily Samoei while at the nearby Siwo Primary School.

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