Kenya’s greatest runners of all time

Kenya has produced some of the world’s greatest-ever long-distance runners.

Boston Marathon start line courtesy of Boston Athletic Association (FayFoto)

Both male and female Kenyan runners have excelled at major events around the world. Major marathon events and the Summer Olympics have regularly seen top Kenyan runners compete.

While the country has produced a laundry list of top competitors, only a handful have become national heroes. Here is a look at Kenya’s greatest runners of all time.

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Sumgong has won a clutch of marathon titles during a long career. She won major races including the London, Rotterdam, and Las Vegas marathons. Meanwhile, Sumgong was the runner-up in the Boston, Chicago and New York City marathons.

At the age of 31, Sumgong recorded a brilliant 2:24:04 time at the 2016 Olympics. Sumgong’s gold medal at the 2016 Olympics made her the first Kenyan women to win the Summer Games’ event.

Rita Jeptoo has won the Boston Marathon on three occasions. In 2014, Jeptoo set the Boston Marathon course record with a time of 2:18:57.

Unfortunately, Jeptoo was later disqualified from the Boston Marathon due to testing positive for a banned substance. Despite the ban, she remains a top Kenyan athlete and a national hero. Jeptoo has also won the Chicago, Stockholm, and Milan marathons.

Kipsang won the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in the marathon event. It is just one of the many marathon medals Kipsang has won over the years. Kipsang has won the Tokyo, London, Berlin, and New York City marathons.

He won the London race on two occasions. In 2018, Kipsang finished third at the Berlin Marathon, which is his most recent podium finish in a major race. His personal best in the marathon was in Berlin with a time of 2:03:13.

The retired long-distance roadrunner and track run is a national hero. Loroupe won 11 marathons during a lengthy career.

Loroupe was not supported by the Kenyan athletics federation initially. The group believed Loroupe was too small and frail.

After winning a prestigious barefoot cross-country race in 1988, the athletics federation change its attitudes. In 1989, Loroupe earned her first pair of running shoes and never looked back. Her last marathon win was in 2004 in Leipzig.

Today, Loroupe works as a peace, women’s rights, and education spokeswoman. Between 1998 and 2001, Loroupe held the women’s marathon time world record. Loroupe was the first African female to hold the record.

Kipchoge is hands down the most famous Kenyan athlete. The runner’s most recent marathon success was at the 2021 Tokyo Marathon.

Kipchoge set a race record with a 2:02:40 time. In 2003, he won his first world championship individual title at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships junior race.

Kipchoge has won 18 marathons to date and is considered one of the world’s greatest runners of all time.

Kipchoge’s successes in marathon running have made him a well-known athlete outside of Kenya. In 2021, the documentary, Kipchoge: The Last Milestone was released. The film documents Kipchoge’s attempt to run the marathon in under two hours.

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