Edna Kiplagat, a Kenyan long-distance runner, just won the 2017 Boston Marathon. In addition to being a champion runner, Kiplagat serves as a role model for women in Kenya, mentoring girls through school and encouraging women to work and form community associations. She has also established the Edna Kiplagat Foundation to raise awareness about breast cancer.
The 37-year-old finished the Boston marathon in 2 hours, 21 minutes, and 52 seconds. Within the last few miles of the marathon, Kiplagat managed to break ahead from the rest of her competitors. For more than 19 years, this marathoner trained and overcame countless obstacles, rising from obscurity to global acclaim as arguably the second greatest Kenyan female athlete, topped only by runner Catherine “The Great” Ndereba. From London to New York to Los Angeles, Kiplagat has won many marathons, and even two IAAF World Championships.
Now a mother of five and wife to fellow marathon runner turned personal coach, Gilbert Koech, Kiplagat is using her platform as an internationally renowned athlete to spark change in her home country of Kenya. When not racing, the marathoner serves as a police woman in Iten, Kenya, where she is also a major role model and inspiration.
Kiplagat works as a volunteer to spread awareness of garbage management and pollution, and also encourages her community in Iten to maintain a clean and safe environment. Kiplagat is also a big proponent of education. In her spare time, this elite athlete mentors girls to continue their education, and encourages the community’s women to launch local associations and support groups. Adding to her incredible public service is her role as a global spokesperson for the One Safety Initiative, a campaign dedicated to educating the public on road safety.
“We met in London and I was given a chance to represent Kenya,” commented Kiplagat. “A lot of athletes lose their lives or limbs when they are knocked down by cars when training here and it is important to teach them and motorists about road safety.”
“I am one of the role models in my town and country,” says Kiplagat. “I have mentored girls in school and I have empowered women to form community associations. I also support less fortunate kids to pay their school fees.”
Along with her husband, Kiplagat has spoken at elementary schools across Kenya, encouraging young children to strive forward in their education. The couple also dedicates themselves to helping young aspiring athletes, specifically those at Markwa Secondary School. Together, Kiplagat and Koech help promising athletes train and meet their educational needs.
“At the moment, we have about 20 and one of them, Daisy Jepkemei, won silver in the steeplechase (2000 meter) at the World Youth in Donetsk the other day,” Kipligat told IAFF. “Last year, we took four to the Africa Youth,” she revealed. Jepkemei then went on to win gold at the 3000 meter steeplechase at the World Juniors in 2012.
Additionally, Kiplagat was inspired to launch her nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading breast cancer awareness, the Edna Kiplagat Foundation. She created this foundation after her sister, Alice, succumbed to the disease in 2003.
Kiplagat serves as an incredible example of the rewards and happiness one can reap from hard work, determination, and a motivation to help others. Currently, Kiplagat continues training and helping others reach their athletic and educational aspirations.
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