Updated 11 March 2013
Emily CHEBET Muge (10,000m, Cross Country, Road Races)
Born 18 February 1986, Ainamoi village, Bomet, Rift Valley Province.
Lives and trains in Kericho
Second born in a family of eight
Married to fellow athlete Edward Muge
In 2010, the reserved Kenyan Administration Police officer, Emily Chebet, let her legs do the talking when she mugged her more favoured compatriot Linet Masai with a strong finish along the last bend to bag the senior women’s title at the 38th World Cross championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
The Ethiopian pair of Meselech Melkamu and the feared two-time Olympics champion, Tirunesh Dibaba who came to the race at the back of three World Cross victories also fell to the then 24-year-old Kericho resident to underline the scale of her achievement.
However, the expected ascendancy to the top of the distance running following her epic win was curtailed by knee injury she sustained in June 2010 at the Kenya championships.
“The knee injury gives me problems. It keeps coming and going and that puts me in uncertainty as I prepare for Poland, said Chebet before returning to Bydgoszcz after sealing a berth in the Kenyan team for the 2013 edition of the World Cross. “I know it’s a long journey, with my rivals also shaping themselves for this event. My teammates and the Ethiopians are also challengers to watch.”
As far as Poland is concerned, she firmly believes that Bydgoszcz is her destiny. “In 2010, I also finished fourth at the trials and went on to win gold. When I heard they returned the event there, I got the motivation to train hard, get back into shape and make the team since I missed defending the title in Spain.”
The genial but shy Chebet will be making a fourth appearance at the World Cross having represented Kenya as a junior at the 2003 Lausanne and 2007 Mombasa editions.
The second born in a family of eight, Chebet did not have to search under the covers for inspiration. Her father, Joel Rono, was a journeyman runner and she had the added advantage of growing up in the same village as her good friend and accomplished athlete Caroline Cheptanui Kilel (fourth, 2009 World Half Marathon Championships).
“She hails from my village and I used to see her run and hear of her travels and I deduced to start running like her because I also wanted to travel in a plane.”
Chebet made her Cross Country debut in 2003 when she made the Kenyan junior girls team for the Lausanne. Then aged only 17, Chebet finished fifth in the race won by Tirunesh Dibaba.
Having completed her primary school studies, Chebet opted against continuing with her education, choosing instead to concentrate on her career by joining Kericho Adidas Track Club.
2004 was a quiet year for her with a seasonal best time of 9:03.53 in 3,000m in the Tunis meet in June and a then personal best in 10km in Madrid (32:05) in November.
She graduated to the seniors a year later but found the going tough at the 2005 Kenya Trials where she finished 13th in the women’s 8km race and missed the World Cross team.
Disappointed, she dabbled in shorter distances on the track, clocking a personal best of 4:18.75 in 1500m in Gava, Barcelona, on 12 June. Six days later, Chebet ran a personal best in 15km in Porto (50:03) and on 1 July, she ran 8:53.46 over 3000m in Paris-St Denis.
Chebet’s blossoming career continued to move on in leaps with a much better 2006. She started the year with a seventh finish at the National Cross Country Championships cum Trials to miss the Fukuoka team by a whisker.
Undeterred, Chebet readied herself for the National Athletics Championships on 2 July. In a typically tough Kenyan championship, Chebet finished second behind Edith Masai in the women’s 10,000m in 32:27. Her exploits were good enough for her selection for the African Athletics Championships in Mauritius.
And so on 12 August, Chebet was part of a Kenyan trio that dominated the 25-lap race in Bambous. Edith Masai won gold in a Championships record of 31:27.96; Isabella Ochichi clinched silver while Chebet won bronze in a then lifetime best of 31:33.39.
She ended the year with a personal best over 8km (25:29) at the NTELOS race in Richmond, VA, on 11 November 2006.
The rapidly improving runner registered more development in 2007. On 24 February, Chebet finished sixth in the women’s 8km race at the Kenya Trials and was subsequently selected for the 24 March Mombasa World Cross.
However, Chebet was yet another casualty of the excessive heat and humidity that characterised the Mombasa event and registered a DNF in a race won by Dutchwoman Lornah Kiplagat.
The following month, Chebet ran a series of road races in the USA, setting a seasonal best time of 32:14 in a 10km road race in New Orleans (7 Apr) before setting a course record at the ICE Breaker race in Great Falls, Montana (22 Apr), clocking 25:58 over five miles. Seven days later, she set another course record at the Kansas City 4 mile race, clocking 19:33.
She continued her exploits in May, finishing respectively third in Spokane and second in San Francisco over 12km races and in June, she came sixth at the Freihofer’s 5km in Albany, won by Benita Johnson, timing 15.59.
At the end of July, Chebet was back on home soil, this time chasing a ticket for the World Championships in Osaka. She achieved her goal, clocking 32:46.4h to win the women’s 10,000m race, earning a place in the Japan-bound flight.
In Osaka, however, she was, like the rest of the world forced to play a distant second fiddle as Tirunesh Dibaba destroyed the field to win gold. Chebet had to be satisfied with a ninth place finish in 32:31.21.
There was one more chance to represent the country at the Japanese Chiba Ekiden Marathon relay on 23 November, held for the first time a s mixed competition, with male and female runners alternating. Here she helped Kenya finish second by running the 5 km leg in 15:38.
She started 2008 with a win in the Kericho Cross Country Championships in her hometown on 16 February, then travelled to San Juan for the World’s Best 10km race where she placed 11th in 32.49 on 24 February.
But this would be the last time she would compete that year, as Chebet took the rest of 2008 to attend to family matters. Having met Edward Muge (himself an accomplished athlete - 2008 Kenya national 10,000m champion) at their training camp in Kericho, the duo made their union official and was blessed with a baby daughter, Serah Cherono, on 27 October.
Chebet started her comeback at the 2009/2010 domestic cross country circuit – placing second in the senior women 8km race in Kisii won by on16 December and 5th on 31 January in Eldoret – both race won by Gladys Chemweno – but was not looking to make the Kenyan team.
Having gauged her shape, Chebet intensified her training as she prepared for the national championships set for February.
At the 20 February Bydgoszcz Trials, Chebet hung in there, fighting hard with seasoned athletes like Pauline Korikwiang, Lineth Chepkirui and Linet Masai to win an automatic slot for the Poland World Cross team.
“I am delighted to come back and get in the team. Competition was very tough but I worked hard and gave it my all. I hope to do even better than in Osaka in 2007 and hopefully bring glory to my country.”
And glory it was for Chebet at the Bydgoszcz World Cross, as she overtook the more titled Linet Masai to triumph in a memorable edition for Kenya, as the country won all possible gold medals – four individual and four team titles..
The freshly minted World Cross winner then took to the road in May in the US with a string of podium finishes across Spokane, San Francisco and Boulder before victory in the 5 June Freihofer's 5km in Albany, NY in a career best 15:12 followed by 31.13 for second at the NYRR 10km on 12 June in New York.
Knee injury brought an anti-climax finish to her season during the track and field nationals where she returned eighth (25 June).
In 2011, Chebet made her half marathon debut in Prague in April (72:00), but her most notable performances were recorded over the Freihofer’s 5km in Albany in June (15:29) and the 10km in Tillburg in September (31:18)
Chebet was in better shape in 2012 that started with a bronze medal outing at the African Cross Country Championships in Cape Town (March 18). She also lowered her 10km career best to 30:58 by finishing second in Tilburg on 2 September.
She reserved the best shape for the onset of the domestic cross country series at end of the year, where a hat-trick of victories over the senior women 8km run in the opening three meetings in Nyahururu, Machakos and Kisii between 3 and 17 November set her up for the series jackpot that she duly sealed at her Kericho home turf on 12 January with yet another dominant win.
At the subsequent Nationals, she momentarily struggled after being spiked in the second lap before she chased down the front runners Margaret Wangari, Irene Cheptai and Janet Kisa to finish fourth, out of breath and most importantly, in the last slot for an automatic berth for Poland.
“It was tough out there and I thought I had lost the chance at some point but I have trained hard for this and I did all I could. This is Kenya, you can never be sure of anything and I was so delighted I made it despite the pain.
“I know I will have recovered in time to be in my best shape so that I can reclaim what I lost,” she offered.
10,000m: 31:30.22 (2011)
10km: 30:58 (2012)
Half Marathon: 1:12:00 (2011)
10,000m - 2006 - 31:33.39; 2007 - 32:31.21; 2008 - - ; 2009 - -; 2010- 32:49.43; 2011- 31:30.22
10km - 2004 - 32:05; 2007 – 32:14; 2008 - 32:49; 2009 - -; 2010 - 31:13; 2011 - 31:18; 2012 - 30:58
2003 5th World Cross Country Championships (junior race)
2006 3rd African Athletics Championships (10,000m)
2007 9th World Championships (10,000m)
2010 1st World Cross Country Championships (8km)
2012 3rd Africa Cross Country Championships (8km)
Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2010-2013