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Joyce Chepkirui still time for cooking

Joyce Chepkirui cooking Ugali

Joyce Chepkirui: Inspired by Tegla Loroupe she runs fast and still finds time for cooking

Tegla Loroupe has been the undisputed trendsetter for women long distance runners in Kenya. The former world marathon record holder made a point of encouraging her fellow countrywomen to run and compete.

She runs fast and still finds time for cooking

Loroupe once said in an interview about female running talents in Kenya: “I don’t want them to disappear in the kitchen cooking meals instead of taking advantage of their talent!”

These days, plenty of Kenyan female world-class runners have followed Loroupe’s example.

One of them is Joyce Chepkirui – and she even manages to find time to create appetising dishes in the kitchen. Two days after taking the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon with the fifth fastest time ever of 66:19 minutes Chepkirui went to the Run Czech Running Mall in Prague and cooked a meal for the staff of the organisation and associated mass runners. She was there together with men’s winner Peter Kirui.

There is no question about her choice of number one influence and idol: Tegla Loroupe. “When I was a child I read about her in the magazines. But so far I haven’t had a chance to meet her.” Chepkirui grew up in Kericho and got interested in running through her parents who are farmers. “In their younger days they were both both 10,000 m runners. I don’t know their personal bests, but they reached national level,” recalls the 25 year-old, who has two sisters and three brothers. One of the younger brothers, who is 17, has also taken up running. “May be I can help him in the future,” says Chepkirui, who has no children yet and supports her parents and siblings with some of her earnings.

In 2009 Chepkirui married Erick Kibet, a 61:10 half marathoner. A year later he took over as her coach and since then there has been a significant improvement. Chepkirui ran sub 70 minutes for the first time in 2010 and added a world-class 10 k best of 30:38 a year later. At the 10 k distance she is the sixth fastest in history with her 30:37 PB from Berlin last year.

Chepkirui and Kibet live in Iten where she trains regularly with Florence Kiplagat and Mary Keitany. Kiplagat broke the world half marathon with 65:12 earlier this year, while Keitany is preparing for a comeback after giving birth last year. “We have male pacemakers to support us,” says Chepkirui, who also saw Mo Farah preparing for his London Marathon debut next Sunday. “I think he is in good form,” she says.

Chepkirui ran her marathon debut in London last year. However due to an Achilles problem she only managed 2:35:54 for 15th place. Her times at 10 k and the half marathon suggest she should be able to run more than 15 minutes faster. “I will run my second marathon at the end of the year. We are planning for Honolulu,” Chepkirui says. “I know this is not a fast course, so I would be happy to finish with maybe 2:25. I would then go for a flat and fast marathon next year.” Asked what might be possible for her in the marathon in future she answers: “I dream of running 2:17 one day, but marathon running is not easy.” Everyone enjoying her cuisine in the Run Czech Running Mall in Prague would testify to that. For the Rio Olympics in 2016 Chepkirui has her sights on qualifying for the Kenyan team in the10,000 m.

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