Tuesday, 7 July 2009

INSPIRING FUTURE GENERATIONS: (written for UK Athletics 09/08).

World half-marathon record-holder, LORNAH KIPLAGAT spoke to NICOLA BAMFORD about her life as a multiple World Champion, her selfless work at her Kenyan high-altitude training centre and offers the Run Britain audience some intriguing insights and tips....

33 year-old Nairobi-born Kiplagat has been a Dutch citizen since 2003 after marrying her coach and agent; Pieter Langerhorst, and holds the World Records at 5km road (14:47), 10-miles (50:50), 20,000m (62:57) and the half-marathon (66:25).

Taking time out from her hectic training and mentoring schedule, the 2006 and 2007 World road-running Champion and 2007 World cross-country Champion took part in an enlightening Q & A...

1. How old were you when you started running seriously? And what was your motivation behind becoming a runner? Did you have any heroes? 19 years, I was inspired by my cousin Susan Sirma

2. Were you always a talented athlete or have you had many disappointments and setbacks? I was talented but had my ups and downs, even today this happens of course.

3. Explain how your first marathon/half-marathon went? Which has been your favourite marathon and achievement?
I just rolled into it without realizing. I don't really have a favourite marathon although NYC is one of the places and races I really like. My bestachievement was the World Title in Cross in 2007

4. You are coached by your husband; Pieter - tell us more…?
I am coached by Pieter and he also makes my schedules.

5. Following your injury-plagued start to the year, are you happy withyour 2008 form?
So far this year I won the World Best 10 K and the Abu Dhabi Half marathon so I am quite happy, the best shape is still to come but it's still early.

6. Take us through your warm up and cool-down routine...
Warm up is just a 30 minute easy run with some strides, nothing special.Cool down is the same, a 30 minute easy run with some stretching.

7. You’re known as ‘Simba’ because of your ferocious training regime - describe a typical weeks’ training/mileage...
It all depends on the distance I'm training for but I guess the total miles - for the 10 K is a max of 120 miles

8. Do you enjoy travelling for races?
Not really, I travel so much that it is not fun anymore. In February we flew from Eldoret to Nairobi, Nairobi to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to NYC, NYC to Puerto Rico, PR to NYC, NYC to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam, Amsterdam- Cork, Cork - Amsterdam, Amsterdam - Nairobi and Nairobi - Eldoret. All in three weeks and most places we stayed just a few days.

9. Do you see your rivals as just that, or become friends?
I have no rivals but I do have several friends among the competition.

10. What tips do you have for a beginner to the marathon?
Start easy and build up step by step. The race: Try to run a negative split.

11. Do you have a large support network? Physio, nutritionist etc...
Absolutely - I have a coach/trainer / 2 Physio's, sports doctor from OlympicTeam and a nutritionist.

12. What has been your favourite/which do you rank highly in terms of UK road races?
I haven't run that much in the UK but I won Glasgow 7 times and love therace. I also loved the London Marathon, that's an event I would really wantto win one day.

13. How much sleep do you take per evening? and explain a typical day'sdiet?
I sleep about 10 hrs every night. Diet is nothing special, a lot of vegetables, Ugali and fruits. We grow everything in our own garden and greenhouse so all is organic.

14. Do you have any hobbies, or are you always too tired?!
I like to listen to music and work with the school girls we sponsor. I put a lot of time inthe Lornah Kiplagat Foundation.

15. How did you meet your husband; Pieter Langerhorst? And how long have you been married?
We met at the 1997 London Marathon where I paced the women and he was there for his job as marketing executive for my sponsor. We got married in 2002.

16. Was it hard decision to change national allegiance? And have you found the Kenyans to be hostile towards you since?
No, not at all, I am still the same person. No Kenyan has a problem because they understand. Our tradition says we have to follow the husband to his place and this happened to be the Netherlands. I didn't change for financial reasons.

17. You both run a high-altitude training centre in Iten, 8,000ft above sea-level in Kenya’s Rift Valley for runners (is it specifically for women?) – tell us more?..
No, it's open to everyone and we have people from all over the World. We have many people from the UK, Germany, Netherlands, USA, Australia. We have 28 double rooms, restaurant with organic food, state of art Gymnasium, sauna's, 25 meter swimming pool, a 400 metre track and a clinic for physiotherapy. The girls we sponsor in school stay there during the school holidays.

18. Your vision of the HATC was to provide a training centre for young talented Kenyan female athletes; giving athletes the opportunity to establish a career in running, and work simultaneously on their academic skills – it must be very rewarding but also time-consuming?
We have enough people working and the girls are very mature and disciplined so it's not a problem. Most of the girls go either to the USA to study or make it in running and start their own families so they don't stay that long.

19. Self-funding the centre from your race-winnings is very selfless, and is there any stars emerging?
We have many top athletes from the camp. At the last World Championships Cross we had the # 4 Doris Changeiywo and # 5 Hilda Kibet. Hilda is also a physiotherapist and ran 31:01 this season. She is still at the camp. Doris went to an agent in the UK. Further - 2:25 runner Lenah Cheruiyot, 2:06 runner Daniel Rono, 2:07 runner Jason Mbote and many others.

20. The general public can attend the centre by logging onto www.lornah.com – tell us what they can expect for the costs?
We offer full board including room, three meals per day, coffee, tea, use of the Gym, sauna and pool for 27,50 Euro per person per day.

21. You split your time between Kenya and Holland – tell us more?...
We spend most time in Kenya because training is better for us and we have our business in Kenya. Only in the race season we stay in the Netherlands.

22. You have previously said that African runners are at an advantage because of the two A’s – altitude and attitude – please elaborate...?
They live at the right altitude and they have the right attitude. Most come from a very poor background and are used to work extremely hard. There is also no distraction in Africa, no shopping malls to hang around, etc. In Europe is hard to make it because there are so many opportunities forpeople. However, if people choose to go for it in Europe, they can also make it, several athletes have proven this.

23 . Did you have a long education or go straight into full-time training?
I did high school and went after that in running. 24. What goals do you have for the future?
To stay healthy and keep on doing what I do. 25. Any words of wisdom/motivational tips for our audience?
Stay yourself, no matter what you have reached. Every person has a talent - find it and work hard on it.

26. In moments of weakness, do you indulge/over-train etc...?
I just take a break for some days and go on holiday. After a few days I am completely motivated again.

27. What would you like to do after your running career is over? and do you ever see yourself retiring from competition?
I will retire from the sport; the question is when.....I will focus completely on the Lornah Kiplagat Foundation to educate as many girls as possible. Education is the key to most problems.

28. How would you like to be remembered after your days as an elite athlete?
As a champion with social responsibility.

29. Any other tips...?? Train Hard, Win Easy (Toby Tanser)

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