Joyciline Jepkosgei Won the New York City Women's Marathon In Her First-Ever 26.2-Mile Race
She also broke the record for the fastest debut time.
Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya won the New York City Marathon on Sunday. The 25-year-old athlete ran the course through the five boroughs in 2 hours 22 minutes 38 seconds—only seven seconds off the course record, according to the New York Times.
But Jepkosgei's victory broke plenty of other records: Her time was the second-fastest by a woman in the marathon's history and the fastest by any woman making her New York City Marathon debut. Jepkosgei also became the youngest person to win the prestigious race since 25-year-old Margaret Okayo's victory in 2001, according to TIME.
While winning the largest marathon in the world is an amazing feat in and of itself, it's perhaps even more spectacular that this was the first time Jepkosgei had ever run a 26.2 mile distance. Yes, you read that right. The New York City Marathon was literally Jepkosgei's first full marathon. Like, ever. (Related: Why an Olympic Triathlete Is Nervous About Her First Marathon)
For the record, Jepkosgei's competition was steep this year. Her most difficult opponent was fellow Kenyan Mary Keitany, who has won the New York City Marathon four times, including in 2018. Keitany ended up finishing just 54 seconds behind Jepkosgei, marking the sixth consecutive New York City Marathon in which Keitany has finished in the top two. (See: How Allie Kieffer Prepared for the 2019 NYC Marathon)
As for Jepkosgei, she admitted to reporters that at first, she didn't even realize she'd won the marathon. "I didn't know I won it. My focus was to finish the race. [The] strategy I had planned was to finish the race strong," she shared. "But in the last kilometers, I saw that I was approaching the finish line and I was capable of winning."
Even though Jepkosgei has only been running professionally since 2015, she's already racked up some seriously impressive accomplishments. She's won silver medals at the 2017 World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain, earned a bronze medal in the 2016 African Championships, and set world records with her times in the half marathon, 10-, 15- and 20-kilometer races, according to WXYZ-TV. In March, during her first trip to the United States, Jepkosgei also won the New York City Half-Marathon.
She may be relatively new to the game, but Jepkosgei is already inspiring runners everywhere. "I didn't really know I could win," she said in a statement, per The Boston Globe. "But I was trying my best to do it and to make it and to finish strong."