How motherhood turned Peres Jepchirchir into the marathon force to be reckoned with

Photo || Jared Nyataya

How motherhood turned Peres Jepchirchir into the marathon force to be reckoned with

Mark Kinyanjui 11:00 - 14.05.2024

The reigning Women's marathon Olympic champion has revealed how her daughter helped her take her running back to the next level.

Peres Jepchirchir is one of the most recognisable and well accomplished athletes in the world of marathon.

The 30-year-old has been conquering road races for quite a while now ever since she launched her running career in 2013, when she ran two 10k road races in South Africa and then took part in the Kisumu marathon and cross country running, alongside a certain Faith Kipyegon.

It was in 2016 that she really starting becoming consistent after a few struggles, as she started dominating in half-marathons. She continued on  her trail and even broke two half-marathon records. It was after that that she was blessed with a daughter, Natalie.

As the world recently celebrated mother’s day, Jepchirchir believes becoming a mother has made her a much better athlete, as it motivated her to go beyond her limits, knowing there was now someone in her life looking up to her and depending on her.

“It has changed my life since Natalie was born. You have to work extra hard because now you know you have someone who is depending on you,” Jepchirchir told Olympics Kenya.

Although motherhood is a beautiful thing, it did not come without its challenges, as it effectively meant her life was not her own anymore.

“There were some challenges, but it was mostly good. When Natalia was young, sometimes it would be difficult as she would get sick sometimes. You do not know if she is feeling pain and sometimes, it would be difficult to go for races. 

“I returned to action when Natalia was one year and two months old, which made it difficult for me. I was uncomfortable traveling without my daughter because you just could not tell if she was healthy.”

Getting back to action was no easy streak. Jepchirchir had to shed off her weight, but also had to balance and find a way to solve the issues her baby went through, including the occasional illness.

“It is not easy. Losing weight was a tall order. It was also difficult to sleep. When you want to wake up, she also wants to wake up, when the baby is unwell, its issues, but challenges are there. You just have to commit yourself, love it and enjoy it.”

Jepchirchir has gone on to win the Olympic Games, and recently set the women’s-only world record in the marathon, finishing in two hours, 16 minutes and 16 seconds in London.

She attributes it to the motivation her daughter has instilled in her, describing her as her biggest cheerleader.

“They are playful. Sometimes she will tell me, ‘mommy, you are going to be okay! Mommy, you are going to win!’ Kids are comforting sometimes if you are down.

“Like the other day at the London Marathon, Natalia got emotional. People were cheering me on, but she was crying. She is used to seeing me winning.

"So the one time I got third in London, she was crying ‘Mommy, why did you not win?’ and you end up asking yourself why.”

As she continues to pursue excellence on the marathon course, Peres Jepchirchir exemplifies the extraordinary balance of motherhood and athletic achievement, proving that with dedication and love, anything is possible.

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