World-Class Athlete, World-Changing Activist
On and off the racecourse, Tegla Loroupe is an inspiration. In 1994, she became the first African woman to win a major marathon, breaking the tape at the New York City Marathon. Loroupe won again the following year, and went on to capture marathon titles in Rotterdam (1997 and 1998), Berlin (1999), London (2000), Rome (2000), and Lausanne (2002). She’s twice held the women’s world marathon record. Since founding the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation in 2003, she’s devoted herself to ending conflict around the world.
Loroupe was born May 9, 1973, in the West Pokot District of Kenya. As one of 25 children, she spent her early years doing manual labor and helping to care for her siblings. She ran 10 kilometers to and from school each day and began winning footraces against older students. Recognizing her talent, Loroupe resolved to become a professional runner—a decision her father disagreed with. Fortunately, she stuck with athletics, and in 1989, after winning the respect of Kenyan officials who’d deemed her too frail to succeed, she represented her country at the IAAF World Junior Cross Country Championships, placing 28th.
Running barefoot, she won the 10,000 meters at the 1994 and 1998 Goodwill Games. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, she claimed fifth place at the distance, a day after finishing 13th in the marathon the day before. She notched three world half-marathon titles between 1997 and 1999, and held world records for 20,000m, 25,000m, and 30,000m on the track.
Chasing World Peace
In addition to founding her namesake foundation, she spearheaded the Tegla Loroupe Peace Academy, which provides educational opportunities to children in the Greater Horn of Africa region who’ve been displaced or orphaned by conflict or HIV/AIDS. In 2006, the United Nations named her an Ambassador of Sport. In 2011, she won the International Olympic Committee’s Women and Sport Award. She continues to crusade for peace and women’s rights around the world.
Career Highlights: Road
|1997||IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships||1:08:14|
|1998||IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships||1:08:29|
|1999||IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships||1:08:48|
|2000||Sydney Olympic Marathon||2:29:45|