Edna Kiplagat (Getty Images)
Edna Kiplagat (Getty Images)
  • COUNTRY Kenya Kenya
  • DATE OF BIRTH 15 NOV 1979

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Created 5 August 2013

Edna Ngeringwony KIPLAGAT (Half Marathon, Marathon)

Born: 15 November 1979, Kapkoi Village, Elgeyo Marakwet County

1.70m (5’ 7”) / 49kg

Lives in Iten Town

Manager: Brendan Reilly/Coach Gilbert Koech

Spouse: Gilbert Koech/Children: Carlos Kipkorir (9), Wendy Chemutai (5)

Second last born in a family of six to peasant farming parents.

Schools: Kapkoi Primary School/Kipsoen Secondary School

  

Edna Kiplagat’s life story is an epic tale of international sporting success anchored on humble beginnings and fairytale romance, a mix that has seen her triumph over insurmountable hurdles to string together a career spanning over 17 years and counting at the very top of her trade.

If one was to explain a single reason among many that have seen her beat all odds to rise to global acclaim as the second Kenyan female athlete after Catherine ‘The Great’ Ndereba, to win the World marathon title to add to other glittering accolades, one needs to look no further than her second name – Ngeringwony - given by her parents to signify in her local dialect that she was born when there was an absence of midwives to make the process seamless.

Having topped her first challenge to life, the mother of two married to fellow marathoner turned her coach, Gilbert Koech, a past winner of the Las Vegas and San Antonio city races, went on to be introduced to a sport that was to alter her destiny forever in her final year of formative education at Kapkoi Primary School.

 “I used to love playing football but when I was in Standard 8, my games teacher insisted I can run well and he talked me into taking up athletics. During our inter-classes, I became number one and the coach who was training us in athletics took me to the district competition,” she told Focus on Athletes

 And soon, her latent gift caught the hawk eye of one of the most renowned coaches who for decades, has acted as a production line of potent Kenyan distance running talent.

“There, I was taken by Brother Colm (O’Connell) and I went to his camp in December and I started training in earnest. When the Cross Country season started in January, I excelled, becoming number two in the districts and at the Trials for the World Juniors, I was third and selected in the team,” Kiplagat, the mother to Carlos Kipkorir (nine) and the charming Wendy Chemutai (five) explained.

That was in 1996 where the primary school pupil finished fifth (junior race) at the World Cross in Stellenbosch, South Africa (23 March) before winning the silver medal over 3000m at the World Juniors in Sydney, Australia on 22 August.

 She joined Kipsoen for her secondary education (1997 to 2000) where Kiplagat continued to shine as a junior athlete, finishing fourth (junior race) in 1997 when the World Cross was held in Turin, Italy for team gold besides winning World Junior bronze in 3000m (9:05:46/30 July) when the age category championships was held in Annecy, France the following year in highlight performances during that period.

 “When I represented Kenya for the first time, I did not understand what athletics was all about. Later, I came to learn through Bro Colm, my parents who motivated me and supported me. When I got friends such as Rose Kosgei (1997 World Cross junior champion and 2000 World Junior 1500m silver medallist), we trained well together and aimed to make the national team,” she denotes on the burgeoning phase of her career.

 Gilbert romance

The next phase of Kiplagat’s progression saw her promising vocation develop further when a man she had known since 1995 from the neighbouring school occupied a more prominent role in her life.

“In secondary school, I was still excelling in the sport and after I finished, I went to Iten and rented a house to join other athletes in the town in training. That is where I met my husband, Gilbert who helped me go abroad for the first time as a professional and get a manager and that’s how my career started.

 “I knew him from a neighbouring school to ours a long time ago. When I was in primary, he was in secondary and we would meet in training. Later, when I finished school, he had already started competing abroad and he gave me directions on how to get a manager.

 “I was delighted with the way his manager was working and I joined him and I started to compete in road races and half marathons. Gilbert gave me a programme to train for road races. After that, our romance blossomed,” Kiplagat narrated.

 Having sat out 2000, the following year saw her took part in two 10km road races, both in Canada with her 32:14 winning effort in her first in Toronto (6 May) marking her season’s best.

 In the subsequent couple of years, her relationship with her mentor, who won the 2005 Las Vegas and 2009 San Antonio (2:14:39 PB) marathons, changed cognisance as she allowed him into her life as the apple of her eye.

 “I knew him for long as an athlete and as an individual and his discipline, his thought on life and ambition attracted me and I felt he was the best person to share my life with,” the Daegu Worlds champion explained.

 “It was a plan from God. When I first saw her in 1995, I could see she had a vision to succeed and later as a coach, that is a crucial character for anyone you are in charge of at work,” her husband added.

 Incidentally, Gilbert is also a second last born in a family of six!

Before taking her first career break to welcome their first born, Carlos, in their lives in 2004, Kiplagat recorded SB’s of 32:28 (Pittsburgh, 2002) and 32:12 (Mobile, Alabama, 2003 ) over 10km in the intervening years.

Although she marked her full marathon debut upon her return to competition in 2005 with a 2:50:20 effort for tenth (4 December) in Las Vegas, Kiplagat did not take up the distance that was to catapult her to international limelight until much later.

 She returned to the Kenyan team in 2006 for the Fukuoka World Cross, where she trooped back home in 13th on 1 April before hitting the roads to notch season bests of 32:02 (10km) and 69:32 (half marathon) in New Orleans (15 April) and San Jose (1 October) besides winning the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half in Virginia Beach (3 September) with 71:08 on the timer among others performances in a loaded campaign domestically and overseas.

 Yet another high mileage season was marked in 2007 on track and road as she won six times in the latter and took bronze at the National Championships over 10,000m with a lifetime best of 33:27.0 (hA) on 15 June. Kiplagat raced to her season’s bests of 32:28 (10km) and 70:11 (half marathon) respectively in Wisconsin (9 June) and Philadelphia (16 September) to extend her love affair with racing in the United States.

 Another pause to fulfil maternal duties beckoned in 2008 and she was gifted with a bouncing baby daughter named Wendy, a name so common in America where she had established herself as a road racer of repute.

 “Our first born was in 2004 after racing for a while when I opted to take a break. We were blessed with Carlos and after competing in a number of half marathons, I once again felt that I had tired and decided to take another break in 2008 to get the second born.

 “So far, I’m not thinking of another break but I’m appreciative of the fact they are here since they enjoy the work we do and we are so proud they are in our lives. To be a talented athlete who is a wife and a mother is not that hard,” Kiplagat said of her biological children in addition to Collins Kiprop, 12, a third they have adopted who is a cousin to Carlos and Wendy.

 New York and Worlds marathon game changers

 After the arrival of Wendy, Kiplagat resumed competition in 2009 with a series of road races in her favourite haunt, America, with season best performances of 71:33 (half marathon) and 32:18 (10km) before the couple sat down to make the decision that would usher in the most successful phase of her career.

This was when Gilbert opted to sacrifice his running career to focus fully on coaching his spouse as she prepared to embark on concentrating on the full marathon.

 “He was a good athlete, winning the Las Vegas and San Antonio marathons but he decided to assist me as a coach since he had seen I had the discipline and talent. He ruled to stop competing since the men’s marathon was becoming harder and I accepted to focus and make all the best effort,” Kiplagat disclosed.

 “Edna is supremely talented. When I saw how hard she trained and determination she had to excel and I decided to give up my running to focus on taking her career to the very top. The good thing is that she accepted and has faith in all the programmes I set out for her.

 “We planned a three-season programme that included the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics and see whether she could do well in the marathon,” Gilbert chipped in.

 After intensive training and involvement in the domestic cross country season for build-up at the beginning of the year, the 21 March  Las Vegas Marathon presented the first stern test to their plan that went like clockwork as she put together a polished 2:25:38 victory, a whooping 25 minute improvement on her previous effort at the distance!

 Better was to follow in the fall when she won the New York Marathon in 2:28:20 (7 November) that announced her arrival in the high table of ultimate distance running after edging an intense three-way battle for the tape over the last ten kilometres with home favourite, Shalane Flanagan and compatriot Mary Keitany who occupied the minor podium positions.

 “Winning New York made me recognised worldwide and my life changed for good. I was accorded much respect by neighbours and friends being the fourth Kenyan after Tegla Loroupe, Margaret Okayo and Joyce Chepchumba meaning I had made history.

“When I came back home, I was invited to schools to speak to students since they had heard about what I had done. It was a good reward for all the hard work and sacrifices we had made,” she gushed about winning her first World Marathon Majors event.

 On the impact of her spouse turning into her trainer, she added, “He had trained as a coach and when he started, I won the Las Vegas and New York marathons. His efforts and mine were evident for all to see. Winning New York elevated my name to greater heights than I had imagined.”

 In 2011, Kiplagat’s progression in the ultimate distance event continued unabashed when she adjusted her lifetime best to 2:20:46, another gaping five minute improvement in London (17 April) where she came home third as Keitany ran away with the honours.

 Selected as part of the Kenyan line-up for the Daegu World Championships, in which the London winner missed, Kiplagat recovered from a nasty fall with five kilometres from the finish line to strike gold in 2:28:43 as she led compatriots Priscah Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop to an unprecedented podium sweep in a devastating show of teamwork and individual brilliance.

 “In 2011, I started at London and improved my time. The support I received from my husband and manager helped me a lot to win the World Championships in Daegu and that opened another chapter in my career and personal life.

 “Winning gold made me much more respected since I was the only second woman after Ndereba to win the title for Kenya and it made me more delighted than anything I have ever achieved. It took my recognition even higher,” she remarked on her heroic victory.

 It would all have turned out differently had the leading Kenyan trio not displayed consummate sportsmanship when the gold medallist tumbled down after colliding with the bronze winner at the final water point that left Kiplagat with an injured knee.

 “I remember Sharon did not see me as I was coming in for water and when we turned at the same time, our legs tangled and I fell. She helped me up and we ran together but at that time, I was not thinking of injury although I was in pain.

 “I was only thinking that I’m the strongest and my mind had been prepared to win and after I struggled, I went for the win. Bagging all the medals was historic and God helped us complete the sweep and it was the most important thing we achieved there since we had opened a way for others.”

 The fall cost her title defence in New York.

 “I realised I could not run well. It took a month and a half to treat my leg and during training, I did not perform well and I saw it was better to withdraw to give my knee a chance to heal well. After that, I gave myself enough time to recover.”

 In 2012, her gaze was firmly fixed on Olympic glory and her impeccable marathon podium streak continued with another bristling career best when she followed Keitany home in London (22 April) where she registered her first sub 2:20 by stopping the clock at 2:19:50.

However, her return to the same city in the summer bombed after she could only finish 20th at the Olympics (2:27:52) to depart England with shattered dreams.

 “I had trained well. I thought I would do well owing to my form throughout the year. I was targeting a podium place but before the start, it started raining; that made a cold I caught before we left for the Olympics worse and my body could not react. That made me exhausted and I gave my all until the 37km where I ran out of strength. The race did not go well but at least, I finished and I got the tag of an Olympian,” she explained.

 “We were very disappointed and I realised we needed something to raise her spirits very fast and that is when we decided to enter her at a half marathon to see whether she could go for her personal best,” her spouse added.

 The race, South Shields, witnessed the World champion finish second in a half marathon lifetime best of 67:41 (16 September).

 “Improving my PB gave me closure since it was a sign my body had recovered and my mind was at peace and when I returned home, that gave me encouragement to embark on training for the next season,” Kiplagat underpinned.

 Faced with a possible title defence in Moscow in 2013, Kiplagat once again took to the streets of London to seek the elusive diadem but again, she was forced to accept the bridesmaid role by Daegu silver medallist, Jeptoo, who unleashed a flying finish in the last 8km of the race.

 She was however, rewarded with 2:21:32, her third fastest time at the distance and although she was deflated by missing out on the glory, her performance nonetheless gave Kiplagat belief she could mount a successful defence in Russia once she was confirmed in the team in June.

 “It gave me assurance about my body, I know I’m the defending champion and I’m under no pressure even though defending the title is not easy. I pray to God that all the plans I’ve made will not be disrupted and retaining the title would give me the greatest joy.”

 Having risen to prominence, Kiplagat and Gilbert have embarked on inspiring others to chart a similar path, getting into an agreement with Markwa Secondary School to help talented athletes train and meet their educational needs.

 “At the moment, we have about 20 and one of them, Daisy Jepkemei, won silver in the steeplechase (2000m) at the World Youth in Donetsk the other day. Last year, we took four to the Africa Youth,” she revealed. (Note: Jepkemei had won gold at the 3000m SC at the World Juniors in 2012.)

 Kiplagat is also a global spokesperson for the One Safety initiative that seeks to sensitise on road safety.

 “We met in London and I was, given a chance to represent Kenya. A lot of athletes lose their lives or limbs when they are knocked down by cars when training here and it is important to teach them and motorists about road safety.”

 Having missed out on the Olympic podium in London, Kiplagat, 33, is determined to remain at the top for a swansong in Rio.

 “I’m longing for a chance to go to the Olympics again, since after failing at the last one, I want a medal in the 2016 edition since I have medals at the Worlds and city marathons already.

 “I attribute the success to discipline which is the most important, focus, determination and above all, the support I receive from my husband and what has aided me most is having a spouse who understands what I do; he assists in taking them to school, ensuring they are feeding well and above all, taking care of other businesses to help me focus on running.”

 “We have a diary where we write everything we want to do, what is the most priority to avoid conflicts. The most important thing for us is training and children but having stayed together for over ten years, we now know what does or does not work for her. Again, most of our athletes have sadly, little faith in local coaches and at times, they end up being subjected to programmes that do not suit them at all,” her husband intones.

  

Personal Bests

10km: 31:34 (2010) (31:18 on point-to-point course, 2010)

Half Marathon: 1:07:41 (2012)

Marathon: 2:19:50 (2012)

            

Yearly Progression

10km: 2001- 32:14; 2002- 34:18; 2003- 32:12; 2004- -; 2005- -; 2006-32:02; 2007-2009:32:28; 2010-31:34; 2011-32:24; 2012-32:08

Half Marathon: 2006-1:09:32; 2007-1:10:11; 2009-2010:1:11:33; 2011- 1:09:00; 2012-1:07:41; 2013-1:08:48

Marathon: 2005-2:50:20; 2006- -; 2007- -; 2008- -; 2009- -; 2010-2:28:20; 2011-2:20:46; 2012-2:19:50; 2013-2:21:32

 Career Highlights

 1996    5th       IAAF World Cross Country Championships (junior race)

1996    2nd      IAAF World Junior Championships (3000m)

1998    3rd       IAAF World Junior Championships (3000m)

2006    13th     IAAF World Cross Country Championships

2011    1st       IAAF World Championships (Marathon)

2012    20th     Olympics Games (Marathon)

  

Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2013.

 

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
3000 Metres 8:53.06 Sydney (SOPAC) 22 AUG 1996
5000 Metres 15:57.3 Nairobi 01 JUL 2006
10,000 Metres 33:27.0 Nairobi 16 JUN 2007
10 Kilometres 31:34 Cape Elizabeth, ME 07 AUG 2010
15 Kilometres 47:57 Utica, NY 11 JUL 2010
20 Kilometres 1:05:29 Lisboa 24 MAR 2013
Half Marathon 1:08:48 Lisboa 24 MAR 2013
30 Kilometres 1:39:11 London 13 APR 2014
Marathon 2:19:50 London 22 APR 2012
8 Kilometres 26:19 Kingsport 13 JUL 2002
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
3000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
1998 9:05.46 Annecy 30 JUL
1996 8:53.06 Sydney (SOPAC) 22 AUG
5000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2006 15:57.3 Nairobi 01 JUL
10,000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2007 33:27.0 Nairobi 16 JUN
10 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 32:17 Olomouc 21 JUN
2012 32:08 New York, NY 09 JUN
2011 32:24 New York, NY 11 JUN
2010 31:34 Cape Elizabeth, ME 07 AUG
2007 32:28 Green Bay, WI 09 JUN
2006 32:02 New Orleans, LA 09 APR
15 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 48:49 Olomouc 21 JUN
2010 47:57 Utica, NY 11 JUL
20 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 1:07:27 Gifu 18 MAY
2013 1:05:29 Lisboa 24 MAR
Half Marathon Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 1:08:53 Olomouc 21 JUN
2013 1:08:48 Lisboa 24 MAR
2007 1:10:11 Philadelphia, PA 16 SEP
2006 1:09:32 San José, CA 08 OCT
30 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 1:39:11 London 13 APR
2013 1:40:18 London 21 APR
2012 1:39:53 London 22 APR
2011 1:39:45 London 17 APR
Marathon Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 2:20:21 London 13 APR
2013 2:21:32 London 21 APR
2012 2:19:50 London 22 APR
2011 2:20:46 London 17 APR
2010 2:28:20 New York City, NY 07 NOV
8 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2002 26:19 Kingsport 13 JUL
Honours - 3000 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF World Junior Championships 3 9:05.46 Annecy 30 JUL 1998
6th IAAF World Junior Championships 2 8:53.06 Sydney (SOPAC) 22 AUG 1996
Honours - Marathon
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
14th IAAF World Championships 1 2:25:44 Moskva (Luzhniki) 10 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games 20 2:27:52 London (The Mall) 05 AUG 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 1 2:28:43 Daegu 27 AUG 2011
Honours - Long Race
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
34th IAAF World Cross Country Championships 13 26:32 Fukuoka 01 APR 2006

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Created 5 August 2013

Edna Ngeringwony KIPLAGAT (Half Marathon, Marathon)

Born: 15 November 1979, Kapkoi Village, Elgeyo Marakwet County

1.70m (5’ 7”) / 49kg

Lives in Iten Town

Manager: Brendan Reilly/Coach Gilbert Koech

Spouse: Gilbert Koech/Children: Carlos Kipkorir (9), Wendy Chemutai (5)

Second last born in a family of six to peasant farming parents.

Schools: Kapkoi Primary School/Kipsoen Secondary School

  

Edna Kiplagat’s life story is an epic tale of international sporting success anchored on humble beginnings and fairytale romance, a mix that has seen her triumph over insurmountable hurdles to string together a career spanning over 17 years and counting at the very top of her trade.

If one was to explain a single reason among many that have seen her beat all odds to rise to global acclaim as the second Kenyan female athlete after Catherine ‘The Great’ Ndereba, to win the World marathon title to add to other glittering accolades, one needs to look no further than her second name – Ngeringwony - given by her parents to signify in her local dialect that she was born when there was an absence of midwives to make the process seamless.

Having topped her first challenge to life, the mother of two married to fellow marathoner turned her coach, Gilbert Koech, a past winner of the Las Vegas and San Antonio city races, went on to be introduced to a sport that was to alter her destiny forever in her final year of formative education at Kapkoi Primary School.

 “I used to love playing football but when I was in Standard 8, my games teacher insisted I can run well and he talked me into taking up athletics. During our inter-classes, I became number one and the coach who was training us in athletics took me to the district competition,” she told Focus on Athletes

 And soon, her latent gift caught the hawk eye of one of the most renowned coaches who for decades, has acted as a production line of potent Kenyan distance running talent.

“There, I was taken by Brother Colm (O’Connell) and I went to his camp in December and I started training in earnest. When the Cross Country season started in January, I excelled, becoming number two in the districts and at the Trials for the World Juniors, I was third and selected in the team,” Kiplagat, the mother to Carlos Kipkorir (nine) and the charming Wendy Chemutai (five) explained.

That was in 1996 where the primary school pupil finished fifth (junior race) at the World Cross in Stellenbosch, South Africa (23 March) before winning the silver medal over 3000m at the World Juniors in Sydney, Australia on 22 August.

 She joined Kipsoen for her secondary education (1997 to 2000) where Kiplagat continued to shine as a junior athlete, finishing fourth (junior race) in 1997 when the World Cross was held in Turin, Italy for team gold besides winning World Junior bronze in 3000m (9:05:46/30 July) when the age category championships was held in Annecy, France the following year in highlight performances during that period.

 “When I represented Kenya for the first time, I did not understand what athletics was all about. Later, I came to learn through Bro Colm, my parents who motivated me and supported me. When I got friends such as Rose Kosgei (1997 World Cross junior champion and 2000 World Junior 1500m silver medallist), we trained well together and aimed to make the national team,” she denotes on the burgeoning phase of her career.

 Gilbert romance

The next phase of Kiplagat’s progression saw her promising vocation develop further when a man she had known since 1995 from the neighbouring school occupied a more prominent role in her life.

“In secondary school, I was still excelling in the sport and after I finished, I went to Iten and rented a house to join other athletes in the town in training. That is where I met my husband, Gilbert who helped me go abroad for the first time as a professional and get a manager and that’s how my career started.

 “I knew him from a neighbouring school to ours a long time ago. When I was in primary, he was in secondary and we would meet in training. Later, when I finished school, he had already started competing abroad and he gave me directions on how to get a manager.

 “I was delighted with the way his manager was working and I joined him and I started to compete in road races and half marathons. Gilbert gave me a programme to train for road races. After that, our romance blossomed,” Kiplagat narrated.

 Having sat out 2000, the following year saw her took part in two 10km road races, both in Canada with her 32:14 winning effort in her first in Toronto (6 May) marking her season’s best.

 In the subsequent couple of years, her relationship with her mentor, who won the 2005 Las Vegas and 2009 San Antonio (2:14:39 PB) marathons, changed cognisance as she allowed him into her life as the apple of her eye.

 “I knew him for long as an athlete and as an individual and his discipline, his thought on life and ambition attracted me and I felt he was the best person to share my life with,” the Daegu Worlds champion explained.

 “It was a plan from God. When I first saw her in 1995, I could see she had a vision to succeed and later as a coach, that is a crucial character for anyone you are in charge of at work,” her husband added.

 Incidentally, Gilbert is also a second last born in a family of six!

Before taking her first career break to welcome their first born, Carlos, in their lives in 2004, Kiplagat recorded SB’s of 32:28 (Pittsburgh, 2002) and 32:12 (Mobile, Alabama, 2003 ) over 10km in the intervening years.

Although she marked her full marathon debut upon her return to competition in 2005 with a 2:50:20 effort for tenth (4 December) in Las Vegas, Kiplagat did not take up the distance that was to catapult her to international limelight until much later.

 She returned to the Kenyan team in 2006 for the Fukuoka World Cross, where she trooped back home in 13th on 1 April before hitting the roads to notch season bests of 32:02 (10km) and 69:32 (half marathon) in New Orleans (15 April) and San Jose (1 October) besides winning the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half in Virginia Beach (3 September) with 71:08 on the timer among others performances in a loaded campaign domestically and overseas.

 Yet another high mileage season was marked in 2007 on track and road as she won six times in the latter and took bronze at the National Championships over 10,000m with a lifetime best of 33:27.0 (hA) on 15 June. Kiplagat raced to her season’s bests of 32:28 (10km) and 70:11 (half marathon) respectively in Wisconsin (9 June) and Philadelphia (16 September) to extend her love affair with racing in the United States.

 Another pause to fulfil maternal duties beckoned in 2008 and she was gifted with a bouncing baby daughter named Wendy, a name so common in America where she had established herself as a road racer of repute.

 “Our first born was in 2004 after racing for a while when I opted to take a break. We were blessed with Carlos and after competing in a number of half marathons, I once again felt that I had tired and decided to take another break in 2008 to get the second born.

 “So far, I’m not thinking of another break but I’m appreciative of the fact they are here since they enjoy the work we do and we are so proud they are in our lives. To be a talented athlete who is a wife and a mother is not that hard,” Kiplagat said of her biological children in addition to Collins Kiprop, 12, a third they have adopted who is a cousin to Carlos and Wendy.

 New York and Worlds marathon game changers

 After the arrival of Wendy, Kiplagat resumed competition in 2009 with a series of road races in her favourite haunt, America, with season best performances of 71:33 (half marathon) and 32:18 (10km) before the couple sat down to make the decision that would usher in the most successful phase of her career.

This was when Gilbert opted to sacrifice his running career to focus fully on coaching his spouse as she prepared to embark on concentrating on the full marathon.

 “He was a good athlete, winning the Las Vegas and San Antonio marathons but he decided to assist me as a coach since he had seen I had the discipline and talent. He ruled to stop competing since the men’s marathon was becoming harder and I accepted to focus and make all the best effort,” Kiplagat disclosed.

 “Edna is supremely talented. When I saw how hard she trained and determination she had to excel and I decided to give up my running to focus on taking her career to the very top. The good thing is that she accepted and has faith in all the programmes I set out for her.

 “We planned a three-season programme that included the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics and see whether she could do well in the marathon,” Gilbert chipped in.

 After intensive training and involvement in the domestic cross country season for build-up at the beginning of the year, the 21 March  Las Vegas Marathon presented the first stern test to their plan that went like clockwork as she put together a polished 2:25:38 victory, a whooping 25 minute improvement on her previous effort at the distance!

 Better was to follow in the fall when she won the New York Marathon in 2:28:20 (7 November) that announced her arrival in the high table of ultimate distance running after edging an intense three-way battle for the tape over the last ten kilometres with home favourite, Shalane Flanagan and compatriot Mary Keitany who occupied the minor podium positions.

 “Winning New York made me recognised worldwide and my life changed for good. I was accorded much respect by neighbours and friends being the fourth Kenyan after Tegla Loroupe, Margaret Okayo and Joyce Chepchumba meaning I had made history.

“When I came back home, I was invited to schools to speak to students since they had heard about what I had done. It was a good reward for all the hard work and sacrifices we had made,” she gushed about winning her first World Marathon Majors event.

 On the impact of her spouse turning into her trainer, she added, “He had trained as a coach and when he started, I won the Las Vegas and New York marathons. His efforts and mine were evident for all to see. Winning New York elevated my name to greater heights than I had imagined.”

 In 2011, Kiplagat’s progression in the ultimate distance event continued unabashed when she adjusted her lifetime best to 2:20:46, another gaping five minute improvement in London (17 April) where she came home third as Keitany ran away with the honours.

 Selected as part of the Kenyan line-up for the Daegu World Championships, in which the London winner missed, Kiplagat recovered from a nasty fall with five kilometres from the finish line to strike gold in 2:28:43 as she led compatriots Priscah Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop to an unprecedented podium sweep in a devastating show of teamwork and individual brilliance.

 “In 2011, I started at London and improved my time. The support I received from my husband and manager helped me a lot to win the World Championships in Daegu and that opened another chapter in my career and personal life.

 “Winning gold made me much more respected since I was the only second woman after Ndereba to win the title for Kenya and it made me more delighted than anything I have ever achieved. It took my recognition even higher,” she remarked on her heroic victory.

 It would all have turned out differently had the leading Kenyan trio not displayed consummate sportsmanship when the gold medallist tumbled down after colliding with the bronze winner at the final water point that left Kiplagat with an injured knee.

 “I remember Sharon did not see me as I was coming in for water and when we turned at the same time, our legs tangled and I fell. She helped me up and we ran together but at that time, I was not thinking of injury although I was in pain.

 “I was only thinking that I’m the strongest and my mind had been prepared to win and after I struggled, I went for the win. Bagging all the medals was historic and God helped us complete the sweep and it was the most important thing we achieved there since we had opened a way for others.”

 The fall cost her title defence in New York.

 “I realised I could not run well. It took a month and a half to treat my leg and during training, I did not perform well and I saw it was better to withdraw to give my knee a chance to heal well. After that, I gave myself enough time to recover.”

 In 2012, her gaze was firmly fixed on Olympic glory and her impeccable marathon podium streak continued with another bristling career best when she followed Keitany home in London (22 April) where she registered her first sub 2:20 by stopping the clock at 2:19:50.

However, her return to the same city in the summer bombed after she could only finish 20th at the Olympics (2:27:52) to depart England with shattered dreams.

 “I had trained well. I thought I would do well owing to my form throughout the year. I was targeting a podium place but before the start, it started raining; that made a cold I caught before we left for the Olympics worse and my body could not react. That made me exhausted and I gave my all until the 37km where I ran out of strength. The race did not go well but at least, I finished and I got the tag of an Olympian,” she explained.

 “We were very disappointed and I realised we needed something to raise her spirits very fast and that is when we decided to enter her at a half marathon to see whether she could go for her personal best,” her spouse added.

 The race, South Shields, witnessed the World champion finish second in a half marathon lifetime best of 67:41 (16 September).

 “Improving my PB gave me closure since it was a sign my body had recovered and my mind was at peace and when I returned home, that gave me encouragement to embark on training for the next season,” Kiplagat underpinned.

 Faced with a possible title defence in Moscow in 2013, Kiplagat once again took to the streets of London to seek the elusive diadem but again, she was forced to accept the bridesmaid role by Daegu silver medallist, Jeptoo, who unleashed a flying finish in the last 8km of the race.

 She was however, rewarded with 2:21:32, her third fastest time at the distance and although she was deflated by missing out on the glory, her performance nonetheless gave Kiplagat belief she could mount a successful defence in Russia once she was confirmed in the team in June.

 “It gave me assurance about my body, I know I’m the defending champion and I’m under no pressure even though defending the title is not easy. I pray to God that all the plans I’ve made will not be disrupted and retaining the title would give me the greatest joy.”

 Having risen to prominence, Kiplagat and Gilbert have embarked on inspiring others to chart a similar path, getting into an agreement with Markwa Secondary School to help talented athletes train and meet their educational needs.

 “At the moment, we have about 20 and one of them, Daisy Jepkemei, won silver in the steeplechase (2000m) at the World Youth in Donetsk the other day. Last year, we took four to the Africa Youth,” she revealed. (Note: Jepkemei had won gold at the 3000m SC at the World Juniors in 2012.)

 Kiplagat is also a global spokesperson for the One Safety initiative that seeks to sensitise on road safety.

 “We met in London and I was, given a chance to represent Kenya. A lot of athletes lose their lives or limbs when they are knocked down by cars when training here and it is important to teach them and motorists about road safety.”

 Having missed out on the Olympic podium in London, Kiplagat, 33, is determined to remain at the top for a swansong in Rio.

 “I’m longing for a chance to go to the Olympics again, since after failing at the last one, I want a medal in the 2016 edition since I have medals at the Worlds and city marathons already.

 “I attribute the success to discipline which is the most important, focus, determination and above all, the support I receive from my husband and what has aided me most is having a spouse who understands what I do; he assists in taking them to school, ensuring they are feeding well and above all, taking care of other businesses to help me focus on running.”

 “We have a diary where we write everything we want to do, what is the most priority to avoid conflicts. The most important thing for us is training and children but having stayed together for over ten years, we now know what does or does not work for her. Again, most of our athletes have sadly, little faith in local coaches and at times, they end up being subjected to programmes that do not suit them at all,” her husband intones.

  

Personal Bests

10km: 31:34 (2010) (31:18 on point-to-point course, 2010)

Half Marathon: 1:07:41 (2012)

Marathon: 2:19:50 (2012)

            

Yearly Progression

10km: 2001- 32:14; 2002- 34:18; 2003- 32:12; 2004- -; 2005- -; 2006-32:02; 2007-2009:32:28; 2010-31:34; 2011-32:24; 2012-32:08

Half Marathon: 2006-1:09:32; 2007-1:10:11; 2009-2010:1:11:33; 2011- 1:09:00; 2012-1:07:41; 2013-1:08:48

Marathon: 2005-2:50:20; 2006- -; 2007- -; 2008- -; 2009- -; 2010-2:28:20; 2011-2:20:46; 2012-2:19:50; 2013-2:21:32

 Career Highlights

 1996    5th       IAAF World Cross Country Championships (junior race)

1996    2nd      IAAF World Junior Championships (3000m)

1998    3rd       IAAF World Junior Championships (3000m)

2006    13th     IAAF World Cross Country Championships

2011    1st       IAAF World Championships (Marathon)

2012    20th     Olympics Games (Marathon)

  

Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2013.