Edna Kiplagat is one of the most unique athletes in our sport. She has been competing at the global level for the last 27 years. On November 5, 2023, Edna Kiplagat, aged 41, finished seventh in an exciting NYC Marathon. Edna Kiplagat is just plain tough.

Stuart Weir wrote this tribute to Edna Kiplagat just a few weeks ago, and I missed it while traveling. 

Edna Kiplagat – a personal reflection

In 1996, Edna Kiplagat won silver at the World Juniors in the 3000m.  In 2023, 27 years later, she was seventh in the New York Marathon.

In between she has twice won the World Championship Marathon (2011 and 2013) as well as being second in 2017. She has won London, New York, and Boston (twice). 2011-14, she was second three times and winner once in London.

At age 41, she won the 2021 Boston Marathon, becoming the oldest-ever winner of a World Marathon Major (male or female).

Edna Kiplagat, 127th Boston Marathon
April 17, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris

Alongside her remarkable running achievements, she is an impressive human being. She and her husband have five children – two of her own, two adopted from her sister, who died of breast cancer in 2003, and one adopted from a neighbor who died in childbirth in 2013.  In memory of her sister, she has set up the Edna Kiplagat Foundation to raise awareness of breast cancer. She sees herself as a role model, especially for girls in her country, mentoring girls and seeking to empower women to play a bigger role in their communities.

Wilson Kipsang and Edna Kiplagat, London 2014 Marathon, photo by London Marathon Media

Despite her successes in city marathons, she once explained to me that she prioritized the World Championships: “World championship results are important because you compete with athletes from many countries. In city marathons, you compete with the best but only a few.”

The 2011 World Championships are a special memory for her: “It was the first time I had represented my country in the World Championships, and I was happy that I won the race.  Becoming a goal medallist was wonderful, and it gave me the confidence to win more championships. It was a great success for Kenya and the first time my country won all three medals [in the marathon].  It was a great achievement”.

Edna Kiplagat, Sharon Lokedi, and Lonah Salpeter, photo by UA Running

Part of her motivation comes from her Christian faith:  She told me: “I am a Christian and a strong believer.  As a Christian, I have peace of mind, and I believe everything is possible when I trust in the Lord. In life, you have to put God first, and everything else comes together”. I pushed on the impact of faith – did she pray when she was running?  Her reply: “Stuart, not just when I run”.  Interviewer put them in his place. She added: “I pray for everything, not just running.  I teach my kids to pray always and to rely on God.  I pray for good health, I pray for peace, for strength, and for everything from God in life”.

I wonder what she will do when she retires from running – if that ever comes.

Edna Kiplagat, 127th Boston Marathon
April 17, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris