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New York Marathon Winner on Running and Church


“That was a good achievement for me,” Adventist Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo told Spectrum, after winning the New York Marathon on November 3 with a time of 2:25:07. “I was not expecting to win in New York because it was my first attempt.”

Jeptoo passed Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia, who had the lead for most of the race, at about mile 24.

The 29-year-old marathoner attends the same church in western Kenya, Namgoi Adventist Church, that Abel Kirui, another World Championship marathoner attends, and the two families are close friends.

The church held a big reception for Jeptoo when she returned home after her win in New York.

Jeptoo’s husband, Douglas Chepsirot, who is also a runner, was the one who initially brought her to the Adventist church. The couple met at a training camp for runners, then got married and had a son. Jeptoo had been Catholic, but she liked the Namgoi church and decided to become an Adventist like her husband.

“It’s a really nice church for me,” Jeptoo says. “I like that church because it really touched me. It changed my life. I believe I will stay there the rest of my life.

“There were things I didn’t know. Now I put my trust in Christ and trust in God my Savior for everything.”

Jeptoo says it can be a challenge to be a professional runner and keep the Sabbath. “To run on Saturdays is not good because that is the day I am supposed to rest and worship my God,” she says. “I don’t feel good when I run on Saturdays. Sometimes it can be difficult, and maybe your manager tells you to go. But it is not good for us as Adventists.”

Chepsirot stays behind to take care of their home and five-year-old son, Faustin, when Jeptoo is traveling for a race or training. His running career has been put on hold so that Jeptoo can pursue hers.

Jeptoo says that she wouldn’t choose running as a career for their son. “Running is too hard,” she says. “I want him to continue with his studies, and go to America to study.”

But her eyes are still very focused on her own running career. Her goal for next year is to run a marathon in 2:18. Her personal best is 2:20:14, which she ran at the 2012 London Marathon, where she took third place. She won the London Marathon this year with at time of 2:20:15.  “I hope next year to improve my time in London,” Jeptoo says.

Jeptoo won a silver medal in the last Olympic marathon.

Jeptoo’s advice for anyone who wants to run a marathon, but has never run one before: “Train really hard and seriously. Everything is possible in God.”

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