Sharon Cherop, 2012 Boston, photo by PhotoRun.net
Justin Lagat, our Kenyan correspondent, wrote ths piece about Sharon Cherop, as she does final preps for the 2014 Boston Marathon….
With Boston-Bound Sharon Cherop Watching London Marathon, by Justin Lagat
On Monday the 21st of this month, Sharon Cherop alongside other elite athletes from the rest of the world will be returning to pound on the streets of Boston. As I watched the London Marathon this past weekend, I got lucky to sit at a table with her and some of her friends in one of the restaurants in Eldoret. This gave me some insights on her personality, her love for running and what to possibly expect from her at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
One reason why it is always fun watching a major city marathon event at a restaurant, a club or any other social place in Eldoret town is that, whether you plan it or not, you will likely be sitting next to a renowned long distance runner as you watch it.
A couple of weeks ago while watching the IAAF world half marathon championships, it was Thomas Longosiwa who came into one of the restaurants here and asked me to create some space for him to sit next to me. This weekend, while going to watch the London Marathon, I was five minutes late after the start of the women’s event and when I arrived at a restaurant, the only space I could find to sit was at a table where Sharon Cherop and her friends sat.
Sitting there in her group eventually proved valuable to me as she was scrutinizing every runner and providing us with great predictions of what was likely to happen after every few minutes in the race. I could only imagine; if she can analyze her competitors in a race and know what moves to make, then definitely it was easier for her doing that while watching them on the big screen.
I was particularly perturbed by her observations about Priscah Jeptoo when she pointed out much earlier in the race before we could see it that she appeared to be struggling with an injury.
After a while, and true to her predictions, Jeptoo dropped out of the race at around 25km.
“Sometimes, setting very high expectations for oneself before a race may end up in great disappointments and even create unnecessary tension. Who knows? Perhaps Jeptoo’s intention to go for a very fast time and the fact that she revealed that to the press could have resulted in too much anxiety before the race resulting in the injury”, Sharon wondered.
Then there was that point in the race when Dibaba missed her water and slowed down to pick the bottle. The two Kenyans on the lead, the “Kiplagats”, automatically increased the pace. Sharon said she would have done exactly that if she were in their shoes. It is a way of taking advantage of a gap to make the chaser lose hope in trying to close it. Looking at the results of the race, I think that move really paid off in the end.
Regarding the two remaining Kiplagats at the lead, Sharon’s guess was that if Florence makes a move at around 35km, she had a better chance of winning the race.
“I have run a number of races with Edna and I know her very well. Whenever she reaches 40km while still in the leading pack, she gets stronger. If Florence wants to win, she had better make a move early”, she said.
When the two Kenyan women were at around the 40km mark, Sharon said she didn’t mind much who would win since they were both Kenyans, but then, seemingly on a second thought, started campaigning for Edna Kiplagat. She wanted Edna to win since it had been a while when she last won a major city marathon. She said Florence won Berlin Marathon a few months ago and then recently set a new world record in the half marathon last month.
“It will be good for Edna to shine too. What do you think?” Whenever she talked, she wanted so much to hear our thoughts as well, as though she wanted all of us to reach a consensus before the race could end!
Edna Kiplagat finally won the race and Sharon was so elated.
As I concentrated in watching the final stages of the men’s event, I was so taken away by the race that I never noticed someone took the bill for the drinks I had been drinking and paying for them. No one wanted to tell me who paid the bills at the table when I inquired and so, I directed my thanks to the people at the table in general before excusing myself as I stood to leave after the races. But, I think it won’t really be that hard to guess who paid for all the pills at the table.
It was my first time getting to know more about Sharon Cherop. Watching her run the Boston Marathon this Monday will definitely be more interesting. I wish her all the best.