Vivian Cheruiyot has been a world class athlete for more than two decades. Stuart Weir caught up with the 2018 London champion, who took second in 2019 in a tough battle with Brigid Kosgei.
Vivian Cheruiyot had to settle for second place in the Virgin Money London Marathon behind her compatriot Brigid Kosgei. The winner’s time was 2:18:20 with Cheruiyot almost two seconds behind. After a relatively slow start to the race, Kosgei ran the second half in 66:42. She opened a gap on Cheruiyot, her only serious challenger, which was closed but Kosgei went again and the race was won. Roza Dereje (Ethiopia) was third with Kenyans Gladys Cherono and Mary Keitany fourth and fifth.
Kosgei, who was second in London in 2018 as well as winning Chicago, said of her race: “The win was a problem for me today, it was hard for me to get my breath but I’m very happy to have done so well. I didn’t really know how far ahead I was, I looked back a couple of times then realised everything was ok. I’m extremely happy in my performance and everything went to plan.”
Cheruiyot was gracious in defeat: “I’m happy. The race was good, it started slowly, the first half was quite slow and the second half a lot faster. There was a lot of wind, it was a little problem for me, but it’s the same for everyone. I’m happy with a podium finish, I know that coming 2nd means I can keep on improving. I have no plans for my next event just some time off.”
While today was a defeat for Vivian Cheruiyot, what a magnificent athlete she is and has been. In 2000 she reached the Olympic 5000 metres final and 19 years later she is still world class.
Her first marathon was in 2017 when she was 4th in London and later the same year won in Frankfurt. In 2018 she was second in New York and won London. In 2019 she finished second in London.
On the track she won World Championship medals (4 golds and a silver) in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2017. In 2013 she was on maternity leave. She finally got her Olympic gold medal in Rio 2016 having taken silver and bronze in London 2012.
She told me that she decided to try marathon running while she was still strong and that the adjustment was not really difficult: “Training did not change so much, a little bit because of the longer runs. There is no difference except for long runs and the speed for marathon is not the same with the speed for track and field. Sometimes you think you are not running fast and that you are not in shape. But I was told that I had to reduce my speed because in the marathon you cannot do the same speed as on the track. I am used to running faster at the track and I had to reduce my speed especially in training and to train my mind that I am running at the speed for marathon”.
The pregnancy was planned to fit the Olympic cycle. Her son Allan was born in October 2013. “Coming back was not so difficult because and when I was going on maternity leave I had planned everything. I did not want to come back too quickly. I want to have my baby and take 8 months after delivery. So I stayed away 8 months. The only problem was just my weight. I was 54 kilos and I had to reduce that to 40″.
She added, reflecting on the last 20 years: “Since I started my career, I have seen a lot that God has done for me. Where I was 10-15 years ago and where I am now is so different. He is the one who gives us strength and everything so without God everything is impossible”.
Note the 5 words in her comments on the 2019 marathon: “I can keep on improving”. It looks as if there is more to come from this wonderful athlete”.