Cheptoo dedicates New York City Marathon run to slain Olympian Tirop

Viola Cheptoo New York City Marathon
Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir (middle) celebrates winning the women’s elite race with second place Kenya’s Viola Cheptoo (left) and third place Ethiopa’s Ababel Yeshaneh (right)
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Kenyan runner Viola Cheptoo dedicated her second-place finish at Sunday’s New York City Marathon to Olympian and compatriot Agnes Tirop, who was found stabbed to death in her home last month, and said she would work to bring awareness to gender-based violence.

Kenyan police last month arrested the husband of the 25-year-old two-time World Championship bronze medallist Tirop, whose funeral two weeks ago was attended by over 1,000 mourners.

Cheptoo was with Tirop in September when she smashed the women-only 10-kilometer world record in Germany, crossing the line in 30 minutes and 1 second.

“It’s been really challenging,” said Cheptoo, who flew home with Tirop from Germany to Kenya. “There were no signs of abuse because she kept it to herself, and just knowing how she was murdered, the pain that she went through has really affected me.”

Tirop had finished fourth in the 5,000m at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Cheptoo is among a group of athletes who came together with Tirop’s family to form “Tirop’s Angels,” a foundation that aims to raise awareness of violence against women.

“We want women… to be able to speak up, and we know a lot of athletes are suffering in silence,” she said.

Cheptoo finished behind compatriot and Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir at the famed five-borough race on Sunday in her marathon debut.

“I ran this race for Agnes,” said Cheptoo. “When it got really tough I just kept thinking, you know, Agnes would have been running in New York in a year or two.”