• Curtis Anderson

OTC Elite’s Kipyego set for U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

EUGENE, Ore. – When Sally Kipyego steps to the starting line at the 2020

U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta on Saturday, it will be nothing less

than a dream come true.

The 34-year-old Kipyego, now in her 11th season with Oregon Track Club

Elite, is absolutely thrilled to be able to compete to represent Team USA at

the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


“I’m very excited,” she said. “I have been in this country for 15 years, and I

always knew I wanted to be an American; knowing how long the process

takes makes it even more precious. I hope I can do well and show how

grateful I am for all of the opportunities that this great nation has afforded

my family and me.”


Born and raised in Kenya, Kipyego arrived in the U.S. in 2005, and quickly

established herself as a dominant runner on the collegiate cross country

scene, ultimately graduating from Texas Tech University with a nursing

degree and a record-tying nine NCAA individual titles in cross country,

indoor and outdoor track.


At that point, Kipyego put her nursing career on hold, and took a leap of

faith by moving to TrackTown USA to begin training under OTC Elite coach

Mark Rowland.


It was a good match.


Kipyego went on to win the silver medal for Kenya in the 10,000 meters at

the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, followed by a

silver medal in the 10,000m and a fourth-place finish in the 5,000m at the

2012 London Olympics. She took fifth in the 10,000m at the 2015 IAAF

World Championships in Beijing before shifting her focus to the marathon

and motherhood. She became a U.S. citizen in 2017.


On Saturday, among the cheering throngs on the sidelines of the hilly 26.2-

mile course, will be Kipyego’s husband, Kevin Chelimo, and their 2-year-old

daughter, Emma. Kipyego arrived in Atlanta several days ago to acclimate

after several weeks of altitude training in Kenya.


“I’ve been able to do marathon specific training for the last 12 weeks,”

Kipyego said. “I’m very happy with how we’ve been able to put together

everything we set out to do at the beginning of the season … and having

Kevin and Emma here with me is extra motivation, knowing they will

support me all the way.”


Kipyego comes into the race with a limited marathon resume, especially

when compared to many of the more than 500 women expected to

compete in the Trials, and she admits it has been a mixed bag of results.


She was unable to finish her marathon debut in 2015 in New York City, but

came back strong to place second overall at the 2016 NYC Marathon with

a time of 2 hours, 28 minutes, 1 second. Similarly, she dropped out of the

2019 Boston Marathon, but five months later, she was seventh at the Berlin

Marathon with a personal best of 2:25:10.


“I have done well and not so well in the marathon,” she said. “(What I have

learned) is an understanding that the marathon is all about managing your

energy for the entire 26.2 miles. I will simply try to remember to run within

myself … try to stick to the plan and be patient because a lot can happen in

a marathon.”


Kipyego, who currently stands 11th on the all-time U.S. women’s marathon

performer list, is eager to test herself against the deep and talented field of

U.S. Olympic marathon qualifiers.


“There are a lot of women running so well right now,” she said. “When

competing against great athletes, one has to bring their best game on the

day. That’s what I intend to do on Saturday.”