The Life of a Marathon Legend; Tegla Loroupe


Mrs. Tegla is a prominent Kenyan long-distance runner. Her widespread popularity is attributable to her variety of world marathon records. Above all, she is remembered for her win in the New York City Marathon. Although she is a retired marathon runner and dedicates most of her time to the Telga Loroupe Foundation, her legacy as a splendid splinter still stands.

Early Life of Mrs. Tegla Loroupe

Tegla was born on 9th May 1973 in Kutomwony in West Pokot District, located in the Rift Valley. Growing up as a young girl, Telga came from a household of 24 siblings. His father had a total of four wives who lived happily. Coming from a homestead where males and females perform specific chores, Telga spent most of her childhood working on the fields and looking after her younger siblings.

Meanwhile, amid her childhood, she was nicknamed Chemetia. She earned the name because of her cheerful personality. Known to many, Tegla never got annoyed. When Mrs. Tegla became of age, around seven years old, she started attending a school in the region. She would go to school every morning and only arrive after running ten kilometers. While at school, she learned she had developed an interest in running.

She, therefore, started participating in the long-distance running of 1500 and 800 meters. Her mother and older sister were the only people in support of her running. The rest of the family would continuously throw shade at her to be interested in a male-dominated field. At one point, her father prohibited her from running, saying it was not a lady’s thing. Loroupe was expected to put most of her focus on useful tasks such as taking care of her siblings. It was not long before she grew tired of the eternal issues; she even considered becoming a nun.

According to a source, Loroupe stated that she was tired and fed up with men back then.

“At this point, I was so done with men. I thought of becoming a nun,” said Mrs. Lorupe.

Nonetheless, being a strong open-minded lady, Loroupe persisted and continued with her career as a runner. Later in life, when she made it, her father made peace with her. More friends were quick to come and share in her success. As she knew the World is full of pretenders, she was careful about the sheep in the wolf’s clothing.

During an interview, Lorupe revealed how he had made up with his father after apologizing for almost destroying her career. She, in turn, told him that because she had a healthy mind and did not listen to him, she succeeded.



Loroupe’s Career

Initially, the Kenyan athletic Federation was not too impressed with Loroupe, and they considered her too frail. However, that did not discourage her from pursuing her interest. In 1998, she won a prestigious cross country race, and of course, that changed the Federation’s perception of her. Back then, she was viewed as a fragile girl, but now she was an asset. She was nominated into the junior world championships, and after her first attempt in 1989, she finished 28th. This made her put all her effort into running full time.

In 1994, Loroupe ran her first marathon race in New York and finished first. She was the first African woman to win the New York Marathon. As such, her win made her famous, and many sportsmen and women started looking up to her. The runners in Kenya, for instance, started looking up to her. Loroupe had made Kenya proud by breaking the record. At least Kenya now had a female runner alongside its talented male athletes. Mrs. Tegla’s victory did not stop there, and she continued running and winning different marathons around the globe.

Between 1997 and 1999, she won three consecutive world half marathon Championships. She scooped a bronze in the 10,000-meter race both in 1995 and 1999. During the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Tegla became many people’s favorite. Nonetheless, a day to the race, she suffered from food poisoning. Despite waking up feeling unwell, she showed up for the race and managed to complete the marathon. Although this time, she became number thirteen and five.

Later while talking to reporters, she revealed that she had shown up for the marathon because of a sense of duty to all the people who looked up to her as a role model in Kenya. Between 19th April to 30th September 2001, Loroupe held a world record for the marathon. She had initially broken the record after finishing the race within two hours, twenty minutes, and forty-seven seconds during the Rotterdam marathon. In 1999, she broke her record after finishing four seconds earlier in the Berlin marathon. She has also set one-hour wold records during the twenty, twenty-five, and thirty kilometers race.

Rotterdam’s marathons proved to be Loroupe’s most successful, for she had won three times consecutively. In 2006, Koffi Annan, the then Secretary-General of UN, named Telga a United Nations Ambassador of Sports. Also, she is an international Sports Ambassador for the IAAF, the International Association of Athletics Federations, and the UNICEF. Throughout Loroupe’s career, we learn that she was a hardworking, committed, happy, persevering girl. Despite the challenges that cane ger way, she never despaired. Even when her dad condemned her for taking up athletics, she followed her passion and was not distracted. Sometimes we have to put in extra effort to achieve our dreams.

Through Tegla’s personality, we also learn that she has a warm heart with the desire to help. She has established many humanitarian facilities that have equally promoted her name and earned her many awards. She has therefore established many great relationships with prominent figures.

Personal Life of Mrs. Loroupe

Tegla is a single woman, for she is not married. Occasionally she spends her time traveling between Detmold, Germany, Kenya, and around the World for her various humanitarian initiatives. There is not much documented in her personal life as she chooses to keep it private.


Telga and Philanthropy

After retiring from sports, Mrs. Tegla decided to dedicate her life to philanthropic works, helping people. Since charity begins at home, Telga first extended her aid to the vulnerable communities back home. She had founded the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation in 2003. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ambassadors have walked with Mrs. Lorupe through her course in establishing the foundation. In 2010, the Kenyan government celebrated Loroupe for her achievements as hundreds of warriors in the conflict-prone regions had laid down their weapons. She has utilized her membership in the Champions for peace group to reunite her people through sporting activities.

Tegla also established a school, Telga Loroupe Peace Academy, and a children’s orphanage in Kapenguria. The latter is a high mountain town in northwest Kenya. Tegla’s foundation helps reunite people and bring people together, considering local communities from his region have always been involved in ethnic clashes. Telga school has also allowed many children from rural areas to access better education.

During the 2006 Marathon in Kapenguria, 2000 warriors from six different tribes competed. Loroupe stated that the race’s motivation was to use her fame to help bring about greater harmony.

“I grew up in a pastoral environment where life was unexceptionally tough because of the local conflicts between the tribes and the people stealing the cattle. All of this on top of all conditions that were hard to start with, ” she said, “I was lucky. I had a talent and was able to make a success out of running, and I felt that I wanted to give things back to the community I grew up in.”

Today, the peace race is an important and significant event in the communities. The villagers and the country have celebrated Loroupe for her work in promoting peace to society. Beatrice Karanja, a media officer for Oxfam, reported that Tegla has been doing a brilliant job. She has given the warriors options to lead better lives, given them hope that there are other things they can do apart from fighting.

Moreover, Tegla also uses her power to advance opportunities for Kenyan women, more so, the ones coming from her local community. In most of the Rift Valley region, women know nothing better than house chores, taking care of their children and husbands. Nevertheless, as a role model, Tegla has helped most of these women widen their horizons and enter new fields such as running. Back in time, women from the Rift valley region of Kenya rarely engaged in sporting activities.

However, so much has changed. The women have come out and are even dominating the sporting world. Tegla says that currently, they have a lot of women running compared to before. But she still has to fight the Federation to help more women gain access to the sporting teams. However, some women have managed to make it through sports. She is happy and positive that things will work out for many over time. She cannot wait to uplift her entire community.


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