Record holder Jepkosgei now aims for marathon

World half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei says her record-breaking exploits at Sunday’s Valencia Half Marathon should be enough to earn a place in Kenya’s team to next year’s IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Spain.

Jepkosgei has always yearned to represent Kenya and vowed to break her own record if selected for the global championships planned for March 24 in Valencia.

The 23-year-old, Kenya’s fastest-rising long distance runner, needed only six months and three weeks to obliterate her own world half marathon record, coasting to victory at the Valencia Half Marathon on Sunday.

She won the IAAF “Gold Label” road race in one hour, four minutes and 51 seconds and in the process smashed her own record by one second.

Jepkosgei had on April 1 this year set a new world half marathon record, clocking 1:04:52 when she retained her Prague Half Marathon title in the Czech capital.

Jepkosgei’s feat was enough to erase her compatriot and world half marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir’s record of 1:05:06 set on February 10 this year when winning the Ras al-Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates.

“It will be a great honour for me to return to Valencia not only for another victory but another world record,” said a confident Jepkosgei upon arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Tuesday to a heroic reception from family members and friends.

“It will be my first time to don the national colours, and I should reciprocate with a good result if given the nod,” said Jepkosgei, who was accompanied by her coach Nicholas Kiprotich, who is also her husband.

They were received at the airport by their six-year-old son, Brandon Kiprotich, and Jepkosgei’s parents, Joseph and Mary Rugut, and her mother in-law Esther Ng’eno, among others.

After the World Half Marathon Championships, Jepkosgei said she would scale to the full marathon late next year or in 2019 with a view to representing Kenya in the marathon at the 2019 World Championships in Doha and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. “I believe with good training I will manage,” said Jepkosgei, who dedicated her performance to her coach, parents and training mates in Iten and Ngong.

They include four times world 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi, her sister Irene Cherop, Selah Jepleting and James Kibet.

“My husband has taken most of his time to train me and I thank him for his patience.

“Kemboi has been a great inspiration to me and my success. May God bless him as he moves into road racing,” said Jepkosgei.

Jepkosgei attributed her success to hard work and proper training under her coach.

“Above all, I put God first since all our efforts amount to nothing without His blessings,” said Jepkosgei.

The athlete from Cheptil, Nandi County, said she was confident of breaking her own record after good preps. “It’s always my target to improve on my time from a previous race hence I put in more effort to achieve that,” explained Jepkogei, who was fresh from breaking her won World 10km record at the Birell Prague Grand Prix on September 9 this year in 29:43 minutes.

Koech said that he wanted to prove their critics wrong that good long distance runners don’t necessarily come from track.

“She might not have performed so well before but good discipline and hard work has brought her this far,” said Koech.

Jepkosgei won the IAAF Gold Label road race in 1 hour, 04 minutes and 51 seconds.

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