It’s strange how a fortune can vanish. Sharon Cherop, the 2012 Boston Marathon winner, resigned from Kenya Defence Forces with lofty dreams.
She had served for nine years and opted to resign to try her hand in business. She started a cosmetics shop in Eldoret, which grew steadily.
After some time, she relocated to the town’s thoroughfare –along Uganda Road.
She kept on juggling between athletics training and operating the business. But the coronavirus pandemic has affected her daily routine.
“I decided to resign from the military while still young and energetic to do business and concentrate on athletics. The business has been doing well.
“But the spread of coronavirus has affected me. Right now, I am at home planting potatoes since there is a low turnover in business. The training is not enjoyable. Athletics is nowadays a team sport like football, rugby. There is loneliness in training. We hope to overcome it,” said Cherop, who won Lagos Marathon in 2:30.01 last month.
Not bad for the girl from Tirap village in Elgeyo Marakwet, who made the national team aged 15 during the Seventh All Africa Games in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1999.
Before she took up athletics, Cherop braved the cattle-rustling menace to shine in long distance running.
She discovered her athletics talent while herding goats at her rural home located in the world’s 3,000m steeplechase cradle of Marakwet.
This partly made her rise faster to global athletics fame and it is clear the challenges hardened her.
She used to walk over six-kilometres to Tirap Primary School in what would prepare her for future career.
“Due to the long distance, we could not rush home for lunch but we carried food wrapped in banana leaves to school as our day’s meal. We kept the food under trees till lunch hour,” Cherop said.
Her experiences are similar to those of former world 1,500m silver medalist Silas Kiplagat, who hails from the area.
During weekends, Cherop herded goats deep in the bushes.
Her parents did not take up athletics, probably because athletics only became serious business in Elgeyo Marakwet in the early ‘90s.
But Cherop, a second born in a family of four, had all her siblings taking up athletics and needed little inspiration from outside.
Like her elder sister Jennifer and younger sibling Beatrice all compete in 5,000m and 10,000m races.
Beatrice serves in KDF and is attached to Nakuru’s 81 Battalion, where Cherop served.
Jennifer stopped athletics after sitting for her Form Four examination at Sing’ore Girls Secondary School in Keiyo.
She started athletics while a Standard six pupil competing up to provincial level in 10,000m in 1997