Kenya: Marathon Superstar Brigid Kosgei Won’t Get Carried Away By Fame, Fortune


Hairdressers coming home, top-of-the-range SUVs, loud and expensive jewellery, chartered flights to exotic destinations, shopping sprees, mansions, et al, all highlight lifestyles of the rich and famous.

With proceeds from her 2019 world marathon record run in Chicago, coupled with income from back-to-back victories in the Honolulu, Chicago and London marathons, alongside other lucrative triumphs on the road, Brigid Jepchirchir Kosgei would certainly afford such lavish existence.

But the 26-year-old superstar from Elgeyo Marakwet County — just like many humble world-beating Kenyan athletes — opts for a spartan ethos, going about her monastic life at the Kapsait Nike Athletics Training Camp with minimal distraction from the world of pomp and splendour.

Kosgei could easily afford to hire tens of house-helps and install washing machines or live in five-star comfort without minding about the impact on her bank balance.

But she is just like any other athlete at the Kapsait camp, helping out in the kitchen, doing her own laundry and fetching water by the bucket when the taps run dry, as they usually do.

A late bloomer in athletics, Kosgei was motivated to run from watching fellow Kenyans rising to the podium at global competitions.

“While I was in Standard Eight, I watched the Olympic Games on television and I told myself ‘one day I’d also like to represent Kenya too,'” she told me at the camp.

Just like many children in rural Kenya, Kosgei would run to her primary school in Kapsowar in the morning, then back home for lunch and back again to school for afternoon classes.

“My home was quite a distance from school (10 kilometres) and I never wanted to be late that’s why I used to run quite a bit,” she adds.

Meaning she would ideally cover 40 kilometres each day! Virtually running a daily marathon!

But she never took professional running seriously though, until Erick Kimayo, head coach at the Kapsait camp, encouraged her to join the camp and take up running seriously in 2015.

“I used to fear the marathon… it was not easy, and I feared that one could even die on the road,” sheflashes back.

Marathon endurance

Then a slender, gangly runner, coach Kimayo pushed Kosgei to eat more and clock more miles to gain the marathon endurance.

And she took it quite literally, gobbling up platefuls that almost messed up her marathon debut in Porto on November 8, 2015.

“I ate quite a bit that day and had a full stomach. By the time we reached the 35-kilometre mark, my body wasn’t feeling well and although I won, the time of two hours, 47 minutes (and 59 seconds) was quite slow… “

With more experience garnered ahead of her second race in Milan the following year, Kosgei dined cautiously and was rewarded by a massive almost 20 minutes off her personal best time, winning the Milano Marathon in 2:27:45.

She went on to improve with each race, coming second in the Lisbon Marathon later in 2016 (2:24:45), before bagging the first of her two victories in Honolulu in 2017 (2:31:11).

No idle time

She would then break the Honolulu course record the following year in 2:22:15, earning an invitation to the World Marathon Majors Series, the 2018 London Marathon her big break, thanks mainly to the fierce workouts at Kapsait under coach Erick Kimaiyo.

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