To be able to finally announce her marathon debut - and be hours away from running - is something that makes her exceedingly happy, almost emotional.
It has been a long arduous journey full of injury setbacks for Pauline Korikwiang to finally get ready to run the marathon distance after a long career spanning almost 20yrs of competitive running, from cross country, to track, and up to the half marathon distance on the roads. But, the good news is that she will finally be able to toe the start line at the Adidas Stockholm Marathon, one of the World Athletics Label road races, this Saturday.
“I was to make my marathon debut in 2016 at the same marathon event, but an injury derailed my plans. Since then, it has not been a smooth journey for me as I have had a lot of ups and downs with injuries. I would train up to a point, and then get injured again,” she said.
With all the troubles she has had to go through in trying to get back into the proper form to be able to do her marathon debut, it is understandable why she sounded so elated as she jetted out of the country on Tuesday the 1st of June to run at the 2022 Adidas Stockholm Marathon that will happen on 4th.
“I am so excited to finally announce my debut,” a clearly delighted Korikwiang said. “I have trained well. But, being my debut, I don’t have enough experience to be able to say the exact time I will be aiming for in this race. I will not be running against anyone or going to be under any pressure. I am just going to run my race,” she added.
Korikwiang, who has a personal best time of 1:06:31 for the half marathon believes not just in the training she has done, but also in her coach. According to her, her coach, Claudio Berardelli would not have let her go for this race if he had doubts about her readiness to go and run a good race.
“My coach has been so supportive all through my training and has never ever lost hope in me, even when I was injured. On Saturday, part of the reasons why I will be pushing hard to run a good race will be to appreciate my coach for all the support he has been giving me and to make him happy. Another person that I am grateful to for making it possible for me to emerge out of my injury woes is my physiotherapist, Shadrack Kochong,” she said.
In her long career in running, Korikwiang has come across a number of good people who have been instrumental in ensuring her success. But some of the people who stand out include her first coach.
Geoffrey Tormos was Korikwiang’s first coach. He is the coach who discovered her talent at a young age and is also her uncle. Most of her early achievements in running, including the world U18 silver medal in 2005, the 2006 world U20 silver medal, and the world junior cross country title in 2006 were all achieved under the guidance of her uncle and coach.
“The highest moment in my running career was when I won the world cross country title in 2006, in Fukuoka. I believe that, whether it is a junior or a senior title, the fact remains that you are the best in the whole world. A gold medal is a gold medal,” said Pauline Korkwiang, referring to her precious individual gold medal from the 2006 Fukuoka world cross country championships where she not only won the individual title but a team title for the 6km race as well.
As she reflected back on her career in running, so far, she is grateful that the schools that she attended in both her primary and secondary education also played a significant role in ensuring she remained a competitive runner throughout her school life.
“I appreciate the schools that I got to pass through in my education as I tried to balance between my running career and school work. Teachers from my former primary school in my home village of Kaptabuk and those at the Riruta Girls High School in Nairobi were always so supportive. They would take me through what other students learned while I was out of school to compete,” Korikwiang said.
For now, she thinks she has some more to achieve on the roads as she now embarks on the marathon distance.
“In athletics, it reaches a time when one will want to move on to a different distance, and I believe that my time to move on to the marathon is now,” she said.
She has the necessary support as she makes her move to the roads that will make it easier for her to succeed.
Besides being in a strong training team that includes world and Olympic silver medalist, Pricah Jeptoo and 2017 Seoul Marathon champion, Margaret Agai, she is working under supportive management.
“I am lucky to be working with the best manager in the world; the Demadonna Athletics Promotions. Gianni has been so good to me, he has been calling personally to offer support and encouragement whenever I have been having challenges in my training,” Korikwiang said.