Joan Chelimo, 2018 RAK Half Marathon, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun
You have to hand it to Justin Lagat. Justin lives in Iten, and he is the middle of Kenyan running. On a run, Justin will see some of the finest runners in the world. In this interview with Joan Chelimo, we find out about a change in citizenship and her next marathon being in Seoul on April 17, 2022!
“I am still a good half-marathon runner, but I am now getting to learn more on how to do well in the marathon as well. I will now be going for my fourth marathon in April. I do believe I am a sub 2:20 marathon runner, I know I have it in my legs and so my target this year will be to run under two hours and 20 minutes. Although I can’t say I will be going for that time in Seoul since I have never run on the course before and I can’t tell how tough the course will be,’ said Chelimo, whose personal best time of 2:20.57 which she ran in her second marathon in Valencia, is just 57 seconds out of that.
“My main target for Seoul Marathon will be to have a good run and make it to the podium. I know everybody is coming there well-trained and wishing to win,” she said.
But, while her main focus is now on the marathon, Chelimo says she will still be happy to do a number of shorter distances in between, including the 5000m and 10,000m distances on the track, to sharpen her speed.
Chelimo who acquired Romanian Citizenship in May last year would have wished to be at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon this year but is still awaiting clearance from the world athletics governing body to clear her transfer in order to be able to represent her new country.
She said Letesenbet Gidey’s world record of 62:52 for the half marathon is part of what now motivates her to achieve more with her running, and that she is even tempted to try running 63 minutes for the distance.
“I am really happy for Gidey, for breaking the world record. She is one of the most talented runners I know. She has the world records in the 5000m, the 10,000m, and the 15km. She has a perfect running form. She is also hard-working, given that she is even moving to train here in Kenya. I think she can still do more,” Chelimo said.
Having been the fourth fastest runner in history in the half marathon distance just four years ago, and now being pushed out of the top ten, Chelimo acknowledges that there has been rapid improvement in the times now being run on the roads.
“Runners are now working extra-hard, they now know that the more they sacrifice; the more they get good results. People are now more focused on putting more investment into their training; massage therapies, good recovery, and nutrition, among others. They are becoming more professional.”
Talking of investing time and resources into training, the topic of Tirop’s Angels (https://www.facebook.com/Tiro
But, Chelimo still finds some time to work with the organization to empower and support women, and even men, who are in abusive relationships. She was manning a tent at the Memorial Agnes Tirop World Cross Country event where she gave out more information to runners about the organization and how they can get help.
“With the help of the Nandi county government, we are setting up an office and have identified some lawyers who will work with us in ensuring that we save runners in abusive relationships. We are in plans to set up a shelter and a camp where the affected can seek refuge,” said Chelimo.