Athlete Profile

Susan Chepkemei

  • COUNTRY Kenya Kenya
  • DATE OF BIRTH 25 JUN 1975
Susan Chepkemei, African 10,000m champion (© Allsport)
Susan Chepkemei, African 10,000m champion (© Allsport)
  • COUNTRY Kenya Kenya
  • DATE OF BIRTH 25 JUN 1975


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.


Updated 11 October 2007

Susan CHEPKEMEI, Kenya (Half Marathon/Marathon)

Born 25 June, 1975, Komol Village, West Pokot, Rift Valley, Kenya.

Height 1.64m, Weight 48kg

Manager: Jos Hermens

Susan Chepkemei, the first born in a family of eight, and the only runner in the family, is one of the nearly women of athletics. Suffering a succession of heartaches and near misses, Chepkemei has finished second in major competitions on more occasions than she would probably care to remember.

From cross country, to half marathon, full marathon to the track, she has second places littered all over the world in the last 17 years. Notable among them are her three runner-up finishes in the New York City Marathon and three seconds spots in the World Half Marathon Championships.

Chepkemei (1:09.40) finished second to Britain’s Paula Radcliffe in the 2000 World Half Marathon Championships at Veracruz, Mexico, and again the following year in Bristol, England (1:07.36). A third successive silver medal followed in the 2002 edition, in Brussels (1:09.13), when Ethiopian Berhane Adere denied her.

Chepkemei also has an eighth place from Vilamoura, Portugal, in 2003 (1:10.35) and a bronze (1:10.20) behind Constantina Dita-Tomescu (Romania) and Lornah Kiplagat (Netherlands) from Edmonton, Canada, in 2005. Ahead of what will be her sixth showing, Chepkemei remains optimistic saying, “I know one day I will be number one. This (Udine) could be it.”

The seasoned runner is also hoping to make an impact on her comeback from a tendon injury she sustained at last year’s New York City Marathon, where she finished tenth.

Chepkemei hails from West Pokot, the same area as former marathon world record holder Tegla Loroupe, who influenced her decision to start running. “When I was young, I used to tell people that I would like to run,” Chepkemei recalled. “I met somebody who knew Tegla Loroupe and one day, I met with her. She gave me a lot of courage, “You can do it. Keep running.” 

Chepkemei made her national team debut in 1990 when she finished third in the junior race at the World Cross Country Championships, in Aix-les-Bains, France.
After skipping the following edition in Antwerp, Belgium, she returned in the 1992 World Cross Country, in Boston, US, where she finished sixteenth and Kenya placed third.

Without making a big impression in cross country in the senior ranks up until this time, Chepkemei then made her marathon debut in September 1998, when she ran the Berlin Marathon, finishing second in 2:28:19. In 1999, Chepkemei came in second in Rotterdam Marathon but shed off two minutes off her time (2:26:38).

In 2000, in Vilamoura, Chepkemei had what remains her best senior World Cross Country finish, taking third place and, in 2001, she recorded what remains her only marathon victory, winning Rotterdam  (2:25:45). Later that year she won her first national 10,000m (33:23.3) and the Great North Run Half Marathon (1:08:40) in Newcastle, England. She set the world’s fastest half marathon time of 1:05:44 in April 2001 in Lisbon, albeit on a slightly downhill course.

2002 was Chepkemei’s best year on track and she beat a strong field to retain the national 10,000m title (32:38.3). She finished seventh over 5,000m (15:00:05) in the Bislett Games in Oslo and won silver at the Commonwealth Games, in Manchester, behind compatriot Salina Kosgei in a time of 31:32.04. Chepkemei made up for missing gold in Manchester the following month when she won the African Championships 10,000m title (31:45:14) in Radès, Tunisia.

After a largely unmemorable 2003, Chepkemei was involved in an epic battle with World record holder Radcliffe in the 2004 New York City Marathon. The two ran shoulder to shoulder for most of the race before Radcliffe’s assured finish edged her out by three seconds.

In 2005, Chepkemei won Lisbon Half Marathon (68:47) and gained the first of two third place finishes in the London Marathon (she was third again in 2006). Between London Marathons, in New York 2005, she took an early lead and looked certain to win the race when she suddenly developed stomach problems, vomiting along the way, and ended up second behind Jelena Prokopcuka, of Latvia.

In London 2006, Chepkemei ran her personal best in marathon (2:21.46) eight years after her debut. But, in New York seven months later, she registered her worst ever finish there, coming in tenth in 2:32:45. During the race, the chip on her right shoe slipped into the inside of her foot, pressing against her foot for most of the race.

She twice stopped to try and loosen the shoe but the chip continued to dig deeper to her flesh, resulting in a tendon injury that would keep her out for most of 2007. “I tried to fix it (the chip) and ran for a while but it loosened up again,” she said.  “At the time, it was uncomfortable but after the race, it became very painful.” Despite this, New York remains her favourite race “It’s an amazing race. The spectators are fantastic, I love the people. They’re excellent. This race is like my second home.”

In February 2007, Chepkemei could manage only seventh place at the World's Best 10k, in Puerto Rico, timing 32.47. In March, she was second at the Lisbon Half Marathon (68:33) behind former Boston winner Rita Jeptoo. Chepkemei says that Udine will serve as the latest test to her recovery as well as preparedness for forthcoming marathon races.


Yearly Progression

10k: 2000 – 32:25; 2001 – 31:52; 2002 – 31:11; 2003 – 31:13; 2004 – 31:36; 2005 – 32:58; 2006 – 32:08; 2007 – 32:47.

Half Marathon: 2000 – 1:09.10; 2001 – 1:05.44; 2002 – 1:08.23; 2003 – 1:07.51; 2004 – 1:08.32; 2005 – 1:08.47; 2006 – 1:10.22; 2007 – 1:08.33

Marathon: 1998 – 2:28.19; 1999 – 2:26.38; 2001 – 2:25.12; 2002 – 2:23.19; 2003 – 2:23.12; 2004 – 2:23.13; 2005 – 2:24.00; 2006 – 2:21.46.


Personal Bests

10k: 31:11 (2002)
Half Marathon: 1:05.44 (2001)
Marathon: 2:21.46 (2006)


Career Highlights

1990 3rd, World Cross Country Championships (Junior)
1998 2nd, Berlin Marathon
1999 2nd, Rotterdam Marathon
2000 3rd, World Cross Country Championships
2000 2nd, World Half Marathon Championships
2001 4th, World Cross Country Championships
2001 1st, Rotterdam Marathon
2001 2nd, World Half Marathon Championships
2001 1st, Great North Run, England
2001 1st, Lisbon Half Marathon (WB 65:44)
2001 2nd, New York City Marathon
2002 1st, Lisbon Half Marathon
2002 2nd, World Half Marathon Championships
2002 2nd, 10,000m, Commonwealth Games
2002 1st, African Championships, 10,000m
2003 1st, Bogotá Half Marathon.
2003 1st, Vilamoura Half Marathon
2004 2nd, New York City Marathon
2005 3rd, World Half Marathon Championships
2005 1st, Lisbon Half Marathon
2005 3rd, London Marathon
2005 2nd, New York City Marathon
2006 2nd, Lisbon Half Marathon
2006 3rd, London Marathon
2007 2nd, Lisbon Half Marathon


Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2007

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
3000 Metres 8:43.95 Monaco 20 JUL 2001
5000 Metres 14:55.27 Oslo 13 JUL 2001
10,000 Metres 31:32.04 Manchester 30 JUL 2002
10 Kilometres 31:11 Tilburg 08 SEP 2002
15 Kilometres 47:45 Zaandam 18 SEP 2005
15 Kilometres 47:45 Bristol 07 OCT 2001
20 Kilometres 1:06:46 Edmonton 01 OCT 2005
Half Marathon 1:07:36 Bristol 07 OCT 2001
30 Kilometres 1:41:50 London 14 APR 2002
Marathon 2:21:46 London 23 APR 2006
5 Kilometres 15:19 Tilburg 08 SEP 2002
5 Miles Road 26:13 South Shields 16 SEP 2001
10 Miles Road 51:23 Zaandam 23 SEP 2001
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
3000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2001 8:43.95 Monaco 20 JUL
1998 8:59.45 Hengelo 01 JUN
5000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2004 15:58.0 Nairobi 17 JUN
2002 15:00.05 Oslo 28 JUN
2001 14:55.27 Oslo 13 JUL
1999 15:06.14 Hengelo 30 MAY
10,000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2006 32:49.0 Nairobi 30 JUN
2005 32:24.5 Nairobi 25 JUN
2004 32:33.3 Nairobi 25 JUN
2002 31:32.04 Manchester 30 JUL
2001 33:23.3 Nairobi 22 JUN
2000 33:23.6 Nairobi 20 JUL
1999 33:01.2 Nairobi 24 JUN
10 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2011 32:40 Wierden 23 JUL
2007 32:47 San Juan, PUR 25 FEB
2006 32:08 San Juan, PUR 26 FEB
2005 31:42 Zaandam 18 SEP
2004 31:36 Cape Elizabeth, ME 01 AUG
2003 31:13 Atlanta, GA 04 JUL
2002 31:11 Tilburg 08 SEP
2001 31:52 Brunssum 08 APR
1999 32:03 Brunssum 11 APR
1998 31:53 Paderborn 11 APR
15 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2006 49:33 Utica, NY 09 JUL
2005 47:45 Zaandam 18 SEP
2004 48:50 Utica, NY 11 JUL
2003 48:55 Utica, NY 13 JUL
2001 47:45 Bristol 07 OCT
2000 48:15 Nijmegen 19 NOV
20 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2005 1:06:46 Edmonton 01 OCT
Half Marathon Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2011 1:13:34 Paderborn 23 APR
2006 1:12:16 Egmond aan Zee 08 JAN
2005 1:10:20 Edmonton 01 OCT
2004 1:10:52 New York 07 NOV
2003 1:10:29 Bogotá 03 AUG
2002 1:09:13 Brussels 05 MAY
2001 1:07:36 Bristol 07 OCT
2000 1:09:10 Lisboa 22 OCT
1999 1:09:28 Zaandam 19 SEP
1998 1:10:15 Nizhniy Novgorod 26 APR
30 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2002 1:41:50 London 14 APR
Marathon Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2006 2:21:46 London 23 APR
2005 2:24:00 London 17 APR
2004 2:23:13 New York City, NY 07 NOV
2003 2:23:12 London 13 APR
2002 2:23:19 London 14 APR
2001 2:25:12 New York, NY 04 NOV
1999 2:26:39 Rotterdam 18 APR
1998 2:28:19 Berlin 20 SEP
5 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2002 15:19 Tilburg 08 SEP
5 Miles Road Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2001 26:13 South Shields 16 SEP
10 Miles Road Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2001 51:23 Zaandam 23 SEP
1998 52:26 01 JAN
Honours - 5000 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
9th IAAF World Cup in Athletics 5 15:27.04 Madrid 21 SEP 2002
Honours - Half Marathon
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
2nd IAAF World Road Running Championships f DQ Udine 14 OCT 2007
14th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships 3 1:10:20 Edmonton 01 OCT 2005
12th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships 8 1:10:35 Vilamoura 04 OCT 2003
11th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships 2 1:09:13 Brussels 05 MAY 2002
10th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships 2 1:07:36 Bristol 07 OCT 2001
IAAF World Half Marathon Championships 2 1:09:40 Veracruz 12 NOV 2000
Honours - Junior Race
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
20th IAAF World Cross Country Championships 16 14:08 Boston, MA 21 MAR 1992
18th IAAF World Cross Country Championships 3 14:22 Aix-les-Bains 25 MAR 1990
Honours - Long Race
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF World Cross Country Championships 4 28:13 Oostende 24 MAR 2001
28th World Cross Country Championships 3 25:50 Vilamoura 18 MAR 2000
27th IAAF World Cross Country Championships 5 28:21 Belfast 27 MAR 1999
IAAF World Cross Country Championships 12 26:35 Marrakech 21 MAR 1998


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.


Updated 11 October 2007

Susan CHEPKEMEI, Kenya (Half Marathon/Marathon)

Born 25 June, 1975, Komol Village, West Pokot, Rift Valley, Kenya.

Height 1.64m, Weight 48kg

Manager: Jos Hermens

Susan Chepkemei, the first born in a family of eight, and the only runner in the family, is one of the nearly women of athletics. Suffering a succession of heartaches and near misses, Chepkemei has finished second in major competitions on more occasions than she would probably care to remember.

From cross country, to half marathon, full marathon to the track, she has second places littered all over the world in the last 17 years. Notable among them are her three runner-up finishes in the New York City Marathon and three seconds spots in the World Half Marathon Championships.

Chepkemei (1:09.40) finished second to Britain’s Paula Radcliffe in the 2000 World Half Marathon Championships at Veracruz, Mexico, and again the following year in Bristol, England (1:07.36). A third successive silver medal followed in the 2002 edition, in Brussels (1:09.13), when Ethiopian Berhane Adere denied her.

Chepkemei also has an eighth place from Vilamoura, Portugal, in 2003 (1:10.35) and a bronze (1:10.20) behind Constantina Dita-Tomescu (Romania) and Lornah Kiplagat (Netherlands) from Edmonton, Canada, in 2005. Ahead of what will be her sixth showing, Chepkemei remains optimistic saying, “I know one day I will be number one. This (Udine) could be it.”

The seasoned runner is also hoping to make an impact on her comeback from a tendon injury she sustained at last year’s New York City Marathon, where she finished tenth.

Chepkemei hails from West Pokot, the same area as former marathon world record holder Tegla Loroupe, who influenced her decision to start running. “When I was young, I used to tell people that I would like to run,” Chepkemei recalled. “I met somebody who knew Tegla Loroupe and one day, I met with her. She gave me a lot of courage, “You can do it. Keep running.” 

Chepkemei made her national team debut in 1990 when she finished third in the junior race at the World Cross Country Championships, in Aix-les-Bains, France.
After skipping the following edition in Antwerp, Belgium, she returned in the 1992 World Cross Country, in Boston, US, where she finished sixteenth and Kenya placed third.

Without making a big impression in cross country in the senior ranks up until this time, Chepkemei then made her marathon debut in September 1998, when she ran the Berlin Marathon, finishing second in 2:28:19. In 1999, Chepkemei came in second in Rotterdam Marathon but shed off two minutes off her time (2:26:38).

In 2000, in Vilamoura, Chepkemei had what remains her best senior World Cross Country finish, taking third place and, in 2001, she recorded what remains her only marathon victory, winning Rotterdam  (2:25:45). Later that year she won her first national 10,000m (33:23.3) and the Great North Run Half Marathon (1:08:40) in Newcastle, England. She set the world’s fastest half marathon time of 1:05:44 in April 2001 in Lisbon, albeit on a slightly downhill course.

2002 was Chepkemei’s best year on track and she beat a strong field to retain the national 10,000m title (32:38.3). She finished seventh over 5,000m (15:00:05) in the Bislett Games in Oslo and won silver at the Commonwealth Games, in Manchester, behind compatriot Salina Kosgei in a time of 31:32.04. Chepkemei made up for missing gold in Manchester the following month when she won the African Championships 10,000m title (31:45:14) in Radès, Tunisia.

After a largely unmemorable 2003, Chepkemei was involved in an epic battle with World record holder Radcliffe in the 2004 New York City Marathon. The two ran shoulder to shoulder for most of the race before Radcliffe’s assured finish edged her out by three seconds.

In 2005, Chepkemei won Lisbon Half Marathon (68:47) and gained the first of two third place finishes in the London Marathon (she was third again in 2006). Between London Marathons, in New York 2005, she took an early lead and looked certain to win the race when she suddenly developed stomach problems, vomiting along the way, and ended up second behind Jelena Prokopcuka, of Latvia.

In London 2006, Chepkemei ran her personal best in marathon (2:21.46) eight years after her debut. But, in New York seven months later, she registered her worst ever finish there, coming in tenth in 2:32:45. During the race, the chip on her right shoe slipped into the inside of her foot, pressing against her foot for most of the race.

She twice stopped to try and loosen the shoe but the chip continued to dig deeper to her flesh, resulting in a tendon injury that would keep her out for most of 2007. “I tried to fix it (the chip) and ran for a while but it loosened up again,” she said.  “At the time, it was uncomfortable but after the race, it became very painful.” Despite this, New York remains her favourite race “It’s an amazing race. The spectators are fantastic, I love the people. They’re excellent. This race is like my second home.”

In February 2007, Chepkemei could manage only seventh place at the World's Best 10k, in Puerto Rico, timing 32.47. In March, she was second at the Lisbon Half Marathon (68:33) behind former Boston winner Rita Jeptoo. Chepkemei says that Udine will serve as the latest test to her recovery as well as preparedness for forthcoming marathon races.


Yearly Progression

10k: 2000 – 32:25; 2001 – 31:52; 2002 – 31:11; 2003 – 31:13; 2004 – 31:36; 2005 – 32:58; 2006 – 32:08; 2007 – 32:47.

Half Marathon: 2000 – 1:09.10; 2001 – 1:05.44; 2002 – 1:08.23; 2003 – 1:07.51; 2004 – 1:08.32; 2005 – 1:08.47; 2006 – 1:10.22; 2007 – 1:08.33

Marathon: 1998 – 2:28.19; 1999 – 2:26.38; 2001 – 2:25.12; 2002 – 2:23.19; 2003 – 2:23.12; 2004 – 2:23.13; 2005 – 2:24.00; 2006 – 2:21.46.


Personal Bests

10k: 31:11 (2002)
Half Marathon: 1:05.44 (2001)
Marathon: 2:21.46 (2006)


Career Highlights

1990 3rd, World Cross Country Championships (Junior)
1998 2nd, Berlin Marathon
1999 2nd, Rotterdam Marathon
2000 3rd, World Cross Country Championships
2000 2nd, World Half Marathon Championships
2001 4th, World Cross Country Championships
2001 1st, Rotterdam Marathon
2001 2nd, World Half Marathon Championships
2001 1st, Great North Run, England
2001 1st, Lisbon Half Marathon (WB 65:44)
2001 2nd, New York City Marathon
2002 1st, Lisbon Half Marathon
2002 2nd, World Half Marathon Championships
2002 2nd, 10,000m, Commonwealth Games
2002 1st, African Championships, 10,000m
2003 1st, Bogotá Half Marathon.
2003 1st, Vilamoura Half Marathon
2004 2nd, New York City Marathon
2005 3rd, World Half Marathon Championships
2005 1st, Lisbon Half Marathon
2005 3rd, London Marathon
2005 2nd, New York City Marathon
2006 2nd, Lisbon Half Marathon
2006 3rd, London Marathon
2007 2nd, Lisbon Half Marathon


Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2007