This Is Why Ageless Edna Kiplagat Continues To Defy Odds

Apr 17 - by Mutwiri Mutuota for SportPesa News

Approaching 40, two-time world champion continues to dine at the high table of women's marathon running following her second finish in Boston on Monday

Kenyan Edna Kiplagat, places 2nd in the Men's Elite race at the 123rd Boston Marathon on April 15, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. PHOTO/AFP

  • It was the chosen name her parents of humble means gave her to signify in her local Kalenjin dialect that she was born when there was an absence of midwives to make the process seamless
  • The Kenyan veteran decided to not wait for what the 2018 champion, Desiree Linden of United States said "You just had to let her go, and hope she came back.”
  • It turned out her ability to maintain her pace alone in the front was more important. The race was effectively over before Degefa left Ashland for Framingham

BOSTON, United States- To understand why Edna Kiplagat has beaten insurmountable odds and remains at the top of the global female marathon running at the ripe old age of almost 40, one needs to look no further than her second name- the not so easy to pronounce Ngeringwony.

It was the chosen name her parents of humble means gave her to signify in her local Kalenjin dialect that she was born when there was an absence of midwives to make the process seamless.

Having laboured so hard to enter this world on September 15, 1979, Kiplagat- a two-time world women marathon champion- who won silver at London 2017 when her bid for a record breaking third title was ended by Bahraini Eunice Kirwa- continues to defy all odds by tearing up the ultimate distance running script and only she knows when she will stop.

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On Monday, aged 39, Kiplagat was in supreme shape to complete another roaring comeback to the middle step of the podium when she started the Boston Marathon under the radar.

Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa, a first timer at Boston was the quickest runner in the field and she did not take long from the start to pull away from the rest of the pack after 5km in what for many in the marathon, is a suicidal move.

The Dubai Marathon winner then went on to run for over two hours alone, having done enough to hold on for her first ever World Marathon Majors (WMM) victory.

“If I stayed longer. I thought at the finish I would not make it,” the Ethiopian explained after winning the big race.

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She was right.

Having bid her time within the chasing pack, Kiplagat shifted through the gears and began the seemingly hopeless task of reeling in the leader.

The Kenyan veteran decided to not wait for what the 2018 champion, Desiree Linden of United States said "You just had to let her go, and hope she came back.” 

Marathon coverage

Kiplagat then began to fly down the notorious Heartbreak Hill, running with a real sense of urgency as she was chasing Degefa with abandon.

She would clock the fastest 5K segment for anyone on the course (16:08, which is 2:16:08 marathon pace) from 35k to 40k, but there was not enough room to catch Degefa unless the Ethiopian collapsed. 

That did not happen as Degefa was running miles in the 5:30s on the downhills and managed a 5:39 for the final of the race to ice the comfortable 42-second margin of victory arriving at the tape in 2:23:31, with the smiling Kiplagat coming home for silver in 2:24:13.

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The Kenyan female marathon running great knew, like all those watching, she had just lost to an athlete who on the day could only have been beaten by herself or a terrible tragedy. But in giving the chase her best, Kiplagat proved why she will go down as one of the true greats of her sport.

Degefa came to Hopkinton as the fastest marathoner in the field, having clocked a jaw-dropping 2:17:41 in Dubai in January, but questions remained about her ability to repeat that kind of effort just under three months later.

It turned out her ability to maintain her pace alone in the front was more important. The race was effectively over before Degefa left Ashland for Framingham.

“Even though I had never seen the course, I watched all of the marathon coverage last year. I put that video in my mind today,” Degefa told the IAAF.

 “I’m happy the race took place after the rain was done. I’m so happy that I won, today is the most wonderful.” 

-Material from the IAAF and letsrun.com used to compile this story

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