Boston Marathon champion Lawrence Cherono jetted back home on Thursday to a warm welcome from family and friends at the Eldoret International Airport.
The athlete was decorated with the Kalenjin ceremonial plant commonly known as sinendet with spear and shield normally given to a hero before being given a sip of the traditional milk mursik.
Cherono, who finished the race first after beating Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa in a sprint finish, said that the win was as a result of good planning.
He crossed the line in 2:07:57, ahead of Desisa who finished second in 2:07:59, while another Kenyan Kenneth Kipkemoi sealed the podium three in 2:08:06.
The Kaptagat-based athlete said that he remembered how his brother, Benson Cherono put up a spirited effort to win the 2016 Milano Marathon.
“Desisa is a good athlete and I knew he was going to beat me, but I remembered how my brother Benson fought to the last minute before winning the Milano Marathon in 2006 and I had to do the same. I’m happy I managed to win,” said Cherono.
The final kick, according to him saved the day, because he knew running with strong athletes to the last few metres was something disastrous.
“I had to give my best in the final 50m metres and I thank God I managed to cross the line first. I couldn’t believe that I was the one who won,” added Cherono.
The athlete, who is also the Amsterdam Marathon champion, said that he will be taking a break shortly before he embarks on light training.
“I’m also going to discuss my next race with my manager before I start build up training,” said the athlete.
He dedicated his win to his wife, Winny Kebenei and elder brother Benson Cherono, whom he termed as pillars during his training.
Kebenei admitted she was tensed when Cherono was in the last few metres, but broke into song and dance when her husband won the race.
“I gave my husband all the support during his preparations and I told him I wanted the best from him and he was able to deliver,” said Kebenei.
Kenneth Kipkemoi was in third place after clocking 2:08:06, with Felix Kandie settling for fourth place in 2:08:52.
Geoffrey Kirui (2:08:55), Philemon Rono (2:08:58), Festus Talam (2:09:25) and Benson Kipruto (2:09:53) were in fifth, sixth, ninth and tenth positions respectively.
In the women’s category, Worknesh Degefa from Ethiopia won the race in 2:23:31, ahead of former two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, who clocked 2:24:13, with USA’s Jordan Hasay sealing the podium three in 2:25:20.
Officials from the Baringo and Uasin Gishu County governments were at hand to receive the athlete.
Baringo County Deputy governor, Jacob Chepkwony said they were proud of Cherono’s performance.
“We will always be ready to support talents especially in sports, because they have always made our country proud,” said Chepkwony.