Edna Kiplagat is one of the most underrated athletes in the marathon. If this woman is in the race, do not bet against her placing. In Boston, Kara Goucher, on of the announcers on the Peacock TV broadcast, noted before the race that Edna was always a tough finisher.
Edna Kiplagat, photo by London Marathon Media
This writer remembers watching Edna Kiplagat in Daegu, Korea in 2011. The conditions were hot, humid and difficult. Edna won the World Championships in style. Edna won again in 2013. Her run in 2019 was pretty amazing, where she took 4th in such terrible conditions.
This is Stuart Weir’s first column for this week.
Edna Kiplagat takes 2014 London Marathon, photo by London Marathon Media
Edna Kiplagat finished fourth in the 2022 Boston Marathon – an excellent achievement by anyone’s standard. All the more so when you realize that Edna is 42.
In a stellar marathon career, the Kenyan runner has won London, New York, and Boston marathons as well as twice being World Champion. Her 2014 win in the London marathon followed three years in which she finished second. She was World Champion in 2011, again in 2013, second in 2017 as well fifth in 2015, and fourth in 2019. She has also twice finished second in Boston, once second in Chicago, third in Tokyo. I think she is quite good at running marathons!
Edna Kiplagat with Stuart Weir, London 2014, photo by Stuart Weir
She first came to international attention with silver and bronze in the 1996 and 1998 World Junior Championships at 3000m but all her senior successes have been on the roads
She said after Boston 2022: “It is thanks to my discipline that I am still at this level today. It’s not easy, because I train twice a day every day and after training, I take care of everything at home. I take care of my family. It’s my priority there for them and to fulfill my role as a mother as well as possible. But I manage everything: my family, training, and especially recovery”.
London World Championships 2017, photo by World Athletics
Despite her successes in city marathons she once explained to me why she prioritized the World Championships: “World championship results are important because you compete with athletes from many countries. In city marathons, you compete with the best but only a few.”
The 2011 World Championships are a special memory for her: “It was the first time I had represented my country in the World Championships and I was happy that I won the race. Becoming a goal medallist was wonderful and it gave me the confidence to win more championships. It was a great success for Kenya and the first time my country won all three medals [in the marathon]. It was a great achievement”.
Edna Kiplagat, London WC 2017, photo by Stuart Weir
It was in 2005, in Las Vegas, that she ran her first marathon, of which she told me: “I did not do well because of a lack of experience of marathon running. I was 10th in 2:40”.
Edna Kiplagat is an amazing athlete but there is a lot more to her than running. She is an inspector in the Kenyan police. She sees herself as a role model especially for girls in her country, mentoring girls and seeking to empower women to play a bigger role in their communities.
Stuart Weir with Edna Kiplagat, London 2017 WC, photo by Stuart Weir
When her sister died of breast cancer, she adopted her sister’s two children and set up the Edna Kiplagat Foundation to raise awareness of breast cancer. Her family has now grown to 5 children with two of her own and one adopted from a neighbor who died in childbirth.
Part of her motivation comes from her Christian faith: She told me: “I am a Christian and a strong believer. As a Christian, I have peace of mind and I believe everything is possible when I trust in the Lord. In life you have to put God first and everything else comes together”. I pushed on the impact of faith – did she pray when she was running? Her reply: “Stuart, not just when I run”.
Edna Kiplagat and her daughter, Wendy, photo courtesy of Edna Kiplagat
The interviewer was put in his place. She added: “I pray for everything, not just running. I teach my kids to pray always and to rely on God. I pray for good health, I pray for peace, for strength, and for everything from God in life”.