What you need to know:
- She wants to crown the moment with a historic hat-trick during the World Road Running Championships to be held in Roga, Latvia on Sunday
- The Kenyan runners have been enlisted for the half marathon, 5km and Road Mile races
- Despite being a race favourite, Jepchirchir said that she will be under pressure by virtue of being the defending champion
Two-time World Half Marathon Championships winner Peres Jepchirchir turned 30 on Wednesday, but she is not popping the champagne yet.
She wants to crown the moment with a historic hat-trick during the World Road Running Championships to be held in Roga, Latvia on Sunday.
Should the reigning Olympic marathon champion win the race in Latvia, then she will become the fourth athlete in history to claim the title three times.
Three former athletes; Kenya’s Tegla Loroupe, Kenyan-born Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands and Britain’s Paula Radcliffe have three titles each to their name. Jepchirchir, who excelled during the 2016 and 2020 editions, is looking to equal that feat.
The 2021 New York Marathon champion, who has a personal best of one hour; five minutes and six seconds (1:05:06) in half marathon, is part of Team Kenya’s squad of 18 athletes who will feature in the Latvia contest. The Kenyan runners have been enlisted for the half marathon, 5km and Road Mile races.
The team was scheduled to leave the country last night for the championships.
World Athletics introduced the 5km and Road Mile races to the competition — which initially had only half marathon races — to make the contest more thrilling. As a result, the competition got a new name — World Road Running Championships.
Jepchirchir returned from a nagging injury to finish third in the London Marathon on April 23, and thereafter she was second at the Great Manchester 10km Run on May 21.
Despite being a race favourite, Jepchirchir said that she will be under pressure by virtue of being the defending champion.
“There is always that tense moment with pressure coming in especially when Kenyans are watching and focusing on me to deliver again.
“Expectations are high and I hope I will not disappoint...I will conquer again in Jesus Christ’s name,” she said after her last morning training session at Karura Forest.
“I am praying for good health so as to perform well and not only claim a podium place but top podium place that I am used to,” added the bubbly athlete with hearty laughter.
The 2022 Boston Marathon champion said that has matured over the years since winning her maiden World Road Running Championships title in 2016 Cardiff before sealing a double at 2020 Gdynia.
“I thank God for another new year but there will be no fanfare until after Sunday.”
Head coach Patrick Makau, the 2007 World Half Marathon silver medallist is confident of a good show.
“These are experienced athletes and know what to expect and what they want,” said the former marathon world record holder.
Road Mile; Women: Faith Kipyegon, Nelly Chepchirchir, Men: Reynold Kipkorir, Kyumbe Munguti
5km; Women: Caroline Nyagah, Lilian Kasait. Men: Nicholas Kimeli, Cornelius Kemboi
Half Marathon: Women: Peres Jepchirchir, Irene Kamais, Catherine Reline, Margaret Chelimo, Janeth Chepngetich
Men: Bernard Kibet, Samuel Nyamai, Sabastian Sawe, Daniel Simiu, Charles Langat