Sharon Jemutai Cherop (born 16 March 1984) is a Kenyan long-distance runner who specialises in the marathon. She won a bronze medal at the age of sixteen in the 5000 metres at the World Junior Championships. She was the bronze medal winner in the marathon at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics and won the Boston Marathon in 2012.
Cherop at the half-way point of the 2012 Boston Marathon
After her junior medals, it was not until 2010 that she enjoyed senior level success. She made her marathon debut at the Twin Cities Marathon (coming third) and won her first marathons in 2010, first at the Hamburg Marathon and then at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which she won in 2:22:42 for the fastest marathon time on Canadian soil. Her personal best of 2:22:39 was set at the 2012 Dubai Marathon.
Cherop grew up in a family of cattle-raisers in the Marakwet District of Kenya. She and all three of her siblings took up athletics at a young age. She ran for her school, Tirap Primary School, and began competing at province level at age 13. She was inspired by Catherine Ndereba, who lived locally, and Evans Rutto (another local marathoner) promised to help her if she performed well.
Cherop's first major competition was the 1999 All-Africa Games at the age of 15, but she did not make the podium, coming in fourth place. She was the bronze medallist over 5000 metres at the 2000 World Junior Championships in Athletics, finishing behind Dorcus Inzikuru and Meseret Defar. She started training with Sing'ore Girls, under running coach Boniface Tiren, and worked alongside other promising young runners, including future world champions Janeth Jepkosgei and Vivian Cheruiyot. A knee injury cut short her running season in 2001.
At the Discovery Kenya Great Rift Cross Country in January 2002 she took third place in the senior race behind race winner Joan Jepkorir Aiyabei. She also had national success on the track, winning the 5000 m at the 2004 Athletics Kenya meet. At the Kenya Police Cross Country Championships in January 2005 she took third place in the 8 km race behind Olympic medallist Isabella Ochichi and Cross Country medallist Jane Gakunyi.
She entered the half marathon section of the Nairobi Marathon in October 2005 and she was runner-up behind Lineth Chepkirui. She returned to the cross country running circuit a month later and was third at one of the AK meetings. She took part in the inaugural Shoe4Africa Women's 10km race in Iten and ran a personal best of 36:02 to take second behind Doris Changeywo. The 21-year-old Cherop had begun training with a prominent group of road athletes, including Chicago Marathon winner Evans Rutto and Boston champion Lameck Aguta. She began focusing more on road competitions and was third at the Tegla Loroupe Peace Race at the end of the year. She was fifth at the 15th Discovery Kenya Cross Country Championships in January 2007.
Cherop made her debut on the American road running circuit later that year, starting with a win at the News and Sentinel Half Marathon in a time of 1:12:26, and then a fourth-place finish in a personal best of 1:10:21 at the Philadelphia Distance Run. In October she made her marathon debut at the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. She led alongside Svetlana Ponomarenko for most of the race but she was overhauled by the Russian and Alena Vinitskaya in the final mile, having to settle for third place with a time of 2:38:45. She took on the classic distance for a second time in April 2008 at the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, where Ponomarenko again took top honours while Cherop (15 years her junior) finished in fourth place. At the Azalea Trail Run in May she set a 10K best of 32:43 for fourth place.
Her first marathon of 2009 came at the Nairobi Marathon and she knocked several minutes off her personal best with a run of 2:33:53 for third place. In the women's 15 km race at the Baringo Half Marathon in December 2009 she engaged in a race-long battle for the lead against Agnes Kiprop, although she faded in the final stages and was runner-up in 52:01 minutes. The following year she entered the Hamburg Marathon and ran a solo effort to win the race and a significant personal best of 2:28:38 – over five minutes quicker than her previous time. "It was hard running alone for so long, but I concentrated well", she said of her first major win in Europe. This mark did not stand for long as she improved again at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in September 2010, where she fell over mid-race but recovered to hold off Tirfi Tsegaye to win the race in a time of 2:22:42 – the fastest ever run in Canada, beating Romania's Lidia Șimon's all-comers record set at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton.
A third-place finish at the 2011 Boston Marathon brought Cherop a place on the national marathon team. She went on to take the bronze medal in the marathon at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics – her first international senior medal. Her placing also formed a Kenyan podium sweep with Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo, which was a first for a world-level marathon competition. In November she set a personal best at the Delhi Half Marathon, coming second behind Lucy Wangui in a time of 1:07:08 hours.
She won the 2012 Kenyan Armed Forces Cross Country in January, holding off a challenge from Hellen Obiri. This served as preparation for the Dubai Marathon later that month and in a quick race she finished seventh but knocked three seconds off her best with a run of 2:22:39 hours. Three months later she ran at the 2012 Boston Marathon and defeated Jemima Sumgong in a sprint finish to win the race a time of 2:31:50 hours (slowed by warm temperatures). In spite of this, she was not selected for the Kenyan Olympic marathon team that year. She tried for a spot in the 10,000 m, but came ninth at the national championships. She ran a 10 km best of 32:03 minutes for third at the BAA 10K then went on to take wins at the Philadelphia Half Marathon and Turin Marathon.
- All results regarding marathon, unless stated otherwise
|2000||World Junior Championships||Santiago, Chile||3rd||5000m||16:23.73|
|2007||Twin Cities Marathon||Minneapolis, USA||3rd||Marathon||2:38:45|
|2009||Nairobi Marathon||Nairobi, Kenya||3rd||Marathon||2:33:53|
|2010||Hamburg Marathon||Hamburg, Germany||1st||Marathon||2:28:38|
|2010||Toronto Waterfront Marathon||Toronto, Canada||1st||Marathon||2:22:42|
|2011||Boston Marathon||Boston, USA||3rd||Marathon||2:22:42|
|2012||Boston Marathon||Boston, USA||1st||Marathon||2:31:50|
- Komen, Jonathan (14 August 2011). Cherop Leads Nation's Charge for Marathon Crown. Daily Nation (Kenya). Retrieved on 27 November 2011.
- Ouma, Mark (20 September 1999). Gete Wami shines again in the 10,000m. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- 2000 World Junior Championships – Women’s 5000m final Archived 30 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Njenga, Peter (28 January 2002). World champ Limo excels as a record 2000 athletes compete in Discovery Kenya meeting. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Kosgei and Kemboi opt out of final for juniors' sake – Sixth Athletics Kenya Weekend meet. IAAF (9 May 2004). Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Okoth, Omulo (29 January 2005). Ochichi and Kamathi take Kenyan Police Cross Country title. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota (16 March 2009). Focus on Athletes – Lineth Chepkirui. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Okoth, Omulo (26 November 2005). Teenage women impress, Kipketer stuns Shami – AK Cross Country, Race Three. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Okoth, Omulo (6 January 2006). Changeywo takes inaugural Shoe4Africa Women's 10km. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Macharia, David (18 November 2006). Matebo and Domongole win titles at Tegla Loroupe Peace Race. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Macharia, David (27 January 2007). Evans Cheruiyot proves more than a match for Robert Cheruiyot in Eldoret. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- News and Sentinel Half Marathon. Association of Road Racing Statisticians (23 August 2010). Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Monahan, Ian (16 September 2007). Kibet, Chepchumba Claim Victory at Philadelphia Distance Run Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Running USA Wire. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Hareyan, Armen (7 October 2007). Ukrainian Mykola Antonenko Is The Winner of Twin Cities Marathon. Huliq. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Monahan, Ian (27 April 2008). Chebii, Ponomarenko, take Country Music Marathon victories. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- 2008 Race Results Archived 20 August 2008 at Archive.today. AmeriKenyan Running Club. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- AIMS Race Results 2009 October. Association of International Marathons and Distance Races. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Macharia, David (20 December 2009). Teenager Ndiema surprises with Baringo Half Marathon victory. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Wenig, Jörg (26 April 2010). Kigen and Cherop take Hamburg Marathon titles. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Gains, Paul (26 September 2010). Mungara and Cherop take Toronto Marathon titles as Canadian All-Comers records tumble. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.
- Monti, David (18 April 2011). "Strong winds and ideal conditions propel Mutai to fastest Marathon ever – Boston Marathon report". www.iaaf.org. International Association of Athletics Federations. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- Johnson, Len (27 August 2011). Women's Marathon – Kiplagat leads historical sweep for Kenya Archived 3 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 August 2011.
- Krishnan, Ram. Murali (27 November 2011). In close races, Desisa and Kabuu prevail in New Delhi Half. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 November 2011.
- Mutuota, Mutwiri (21 January 2012). Kiptoo and Cherop take Kenyan military XC titles. IAAF. Retrieved on 22 January 2012.
- Butcher, Pat (27 January 2012). Abshero stuns with 2:04:23 debut, Mergia clocks 2:19:31 in Dubai. IAAF. Retrieved on 4 February 2012.
- Morse, Parker (16 April 2012). Korir and Cherop the best as warm weather slows Boston. IAAF. Retrieved on 26 April 2012.
- Mutuota, Mutwiri (25 April 2012). Kenya announces London Olympic Marathon squad. IAAF. Retrieved on 26 April 2012.
- Sharon Cherop. Tilastopaja. Retrieved on 22 January 2013.
- Biwott and Cherop dominate at Philadelphia Half Marathon. IAAF (16 September 2012). Retrieved on 22 January 2013.