At 42, Edna Kiplagat still pushing the best in the business to the marathon finish line
Just like wine gets better with time, it is no secret that Edna Kiplagat has been very good for a long time. The results speak for themselves; 25 marathon starts in 12 years, six victories and 14 podium finishes, crowned by wins in New York, London and Boston.
Add to this two World Championship gold medals (2011 and 2013), and, astoundingly, with no ‘did not finish’ (DNF).
It doesn’t stop there, Kiplagat is theonly able-bodied athlete who has made the podium in five out of the six annual World Marathon Majors, a fourth-place finish at the Berlin Marathon in 2018 being the only miss.
Kiplagat positioned herself as atop-tier World Class distance runner by winning the 2010 New YorkCity Marathon, in her NYC debut, and last Sunday, 12 years later at the same course, she missed the podium by a whisker, finishing fourth in 2:24:49. The race was won by fellow Kenyan Sharon Lokedi.
Behind Kiplagat in fifth and sixth were more Kenyans, Viola Cheptoo and interestingly, marathon debutant Hellen Obiri, who has been training with the veteran marathoner in Boulder, Colorado before the race.
“You lose nothing in helping others achieve their goals, I take pride in guiding upcoming athletes,” the legend says on her new friend, the two-time World cChampion in 5000m Obiri.
“I admire her (Obiri’s) work ethic. Finishing sixth in New York is something special, it will not be long before she wins major races,” added Kiplagat who in April finished fourth in Boston marathon in a course PB time of 2:21:40.
Kiplagat has been competing internationally since 1996 when she represented Kenya at the World Junior Championships in cross country and on the track.
In the latter competition, she won a silver medal in the 3000m. A quarter century later and at 42 years, Kiplagat has the same hunger.
“I always try to train my mind tobe ready for anything. I think that has to be the biggest advice I’d give upcoming athletes; get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself,” said Kiplagat, who set her marathon PR of 2:19:50 at the 2012 London Marathon.
The fact that she has never failed to finish a marathon is impressive considering that professionals often have a greater incentive to step off the course when things aren’t going well.
“I always tell myself, if I drop out, I will have disappointed my training partners, my team and especially myself. So I always have to finish.”
Kiplagat has embraced the fact that she is not getting younger, and has changed her approach to training.
“When I was in my thirties, I could compete in a marathon, take just one week for restand then, already in the second week, I would be starting my preparation for the next race,” she says. “Now, it takes me three weeks to one month for recovery. I have embraced that change”.
Kiplagat, who will be turning 43 on November 15, is a mother of five. She says she has not yet finished writing her history on the roads.In addition to her two children Wendy (14) and Carlos (18), Kiplagat and her husband and coach, Gilbert Koech, are raising two of her sister’s children after their mother, Alice, died of breast cancer in 2003. They are also raising an adopted child.