Hometown: Eldoret, Kenya
Personal best: 2:23:38 (Boston, 2006)
Career notes: The defending Boston Marathon champion, Rita Jeptoo stole the show last year by pulling away from Jelena Prokopcuka and Reiko Tosa in the last three miles. Jeptoo maintained a slim lead and crossed the line in a personal best 2:23:38, holding off Prokopcuka by only 10 seconds at the tape. The 1-2 finish was the closest women's race in Boston history. After her Boston win, Jeptoo ran the fourth fastest 20K of all time at the IAAF World Road Running Championships (63:47), setting personal bests at 10K (31:12) and 15K (47:31) en route. A month later she finished a strong fourth at the New York City Marathon. Jeptoo entered international competition in 2000, racing primarily in Italy on the roads and in cross country meets. Her transition to the marathon was successful. After winning Stockholm in the spring of 2004, she trimmed more than seven minutes off her time to win Milan five months later. Prior to Boston, Jeptoo won the Paris Half Marathon in a personal best 69:56. So far in 2007, Jeptoo has run a 1:11:18 half marathon. After Boston she has her eye on earning gold: "My commitment is to win the Olympic Games marathon in Beijing in 2008."
Personal notes: At only 26 years of age, Jeptoo is a rising star in the sport. After competing successfully at shorter distances, she transitioned to the marathon and cites Tegla Loroupe as an inspiration. Last year Jeptoo chose Boston as her first American race, but because of passport problems arrived late and could not preview the course. She was, however, undeterred, as she knew she had prepared well for her Boston debut. "It was a stressful experience leading up to the race, but once I got here everything went fine and I was happy in the end." Jeptoo lists her Boston win as her proudest running accomplishment. She returns to defend her title having trained with her husband Noah Busienei, a 1500m runner, in Mosoriot, Eldoret and Iten. Rita also spends time in Italy and loves the fashion there. She also likes to knit different items, including clothes for her husband.
-- Courtesy BAA
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