Name: Hilda Jepchumba Kibet
Born: 17 March 1981
Place of birth: Kapchorwa, Kenya (Keiyo District, Riftvalley province)
Family: I am the oldest of ten children, I have three brothers and six sisters.
My sister Sylvia Kibet (born in 1983) is a 5000m runner and won a silver medal at the World Championships in Berlin (2009) and again in Daegu (2011). She has a personal best of 14.31 on the 5000m.
My second sister Valentine Kibet, born in 1988, started running in 2009. In 2011 she ran her first races abroad (outside Kenya). She focuses on roadraces and has a personal best of 32.16 on the 10k.
My third sister Elvin Kibet (born in 1990) also started running in 2009, after she finished highschool with very good grades. She quickly earned herself an athletic scholarship for the University of Arizona. Since August 2010 she lives in the USA and combines studying with running. She has a personal best of 15.57 on the 5000m.
Elvin's twinsister Ivy Kibet started running in 2010. Since than she is improving gradually and we hope that she will soon be ready to run international races.
My brother Collins Kibet (born in 1993) started running recently, after he finished his secondary school with very good grades. He will also try to get a scholarship, like his sister Elvin.
Residence: Iten, Kenya and Castricum, The Netherlands
- Singore Highschool, Iten, Kenya
- European School of Physiotherapy, Hogeschool van Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Bachelor degree)
Gabriele Nicola and Gerard van Lent
Adidas, AtletiekUnie, NOC-NSF
Brothers and sisters. From left to right: Ian, Valentine, Ivy, me, Caroline, Daisy, Collins and a cousin.
Below: my sister Sylvia competing for Kenya. She already won 2 silver medals at the world championships.
Below: my sister Elvin, who is studying in and running for the University of Arizona
I grew up in a small rural village in Kenya, called Kapchorwa. This is in the Riftvalley, close to Eldoret. My family had 5 acres of land, with some mais, vegetables and cows. Like all our neighbours we didn't have electricity, nor tapwater. We used to go to the river, to fetch some water. This was done from an early age; as soon as you could walk, you were given a bottle to help collect water. When I grew up, I was also given other householdduties, like collecting firewood, milking the cows, smearing our mud-house, cleaning, cooking and helping to plant and harvest. After school there was no time to play, because we were all expected to do our duties. Though it may seem very tough, for me it was part of normal life. I didn't know anything else, and I was happy with it. There was always enough food, clothes and a warm bed, so I definitely didn't (and still don't) see us as poor.
School was 5 kilometers away from home. Because I often had problems waking up, I used to be late and had to run to school. With lunchtime we were send home to eat, so we also went quickly, otherwise there would be not time for lunch. At 17.00 school was finished and we went home again. So like many kids I used to walk and run a lot from during my childhood.
At the age of fourteen I went to secondary school. I was very happy to be invited for Singore, a famous girls boardingschool in Iten. Singore was famous for producing some of the best students and some of the finest athletes in Kenya. Still today, many girls in the Kenya national team are from Singore. In Kenya it's very difficult to do running and studying at a high level. If you want to succeed as a student, it means studying full-time. I choose for studying, so didn't run at all in secondary school. However, my younger sister Sylvia was running and doing very well. She often went abroad for races and at the age of fifteen she became second in the World Championships for juniors, in the 1500m. She used to come home with medals and nice clothes. This motivated me very much. I also wanted to go abroad and thought: “If Sylvia can do it, I can also do it”.
Therefore, when I finished secondary school (1999) with good grades, my goal was to get a scholarship for a university abroad. I knew it would be hard for my parents to pay the university fee in Kenya, which is two years of salary for my father, who is a forester. Also, I heard that abroad it is easier to combine studying and running. I saw a scholarship as the perfect, or only way to get a degree, start running ánd realize my dream of going abroad. But my biggest dream was to be able to support my parents and 9 brothers and sisters. To be able to improve their life.
Lornah than invited me for her camp, the High Altitude Trainingcente in Iten. I was very happy with that opportunity, because it's difficult to start training in the village. First of all, at home there are many duties for a girl. But secondly, I didn't know how to train. In the beginning I went to the track, did one or two laps and came back. I thought that was enough. Lornah and Pieter taught me how to train.
Soon I was contacted by an American coach, who said his university was willing to give me a scholarship. However, at the same time (2000) I also met Hugo van den Broek, a Dutch marathonrunner who came to train in Iten. Hugo persuaded me to come to study physiotherapy in The Netherlands, so that's what I did.
This was my first experience abroad and it was quite hard in the beginning. I had to learn everything: how to work on a computer, how to cycle, to speak Dutch, to travel by train. And at the same time study and run. I used to train once a day, in the evening, but I didn't have the energy to train hard. Only after I finished my study and got my bachelor degree (2004), I started taking running seriously.
Having run a lot in my childhood probably helped me to improve quickly, as soon as I started training hard.
In October 2007 I was given a Dutch passport, after living in the Netherlands for six years and after I successfully passed the exams in Dutch writing, reading, speaking, listening and Dutch culture.
Since than Hugo and I devide our time between Kenya and The Netherlands, although we spend most of our time in Kenya, where the weather is better for running and we live at high altitude.
In Kenya I am coached by Gabriele Nicola from Italy, who coaches many of Kenya's female top-marathon runners.
Until 2010 I combined several distances: marathon, 10.000m on the track and cross-country. Since 2011 I decided to focus on marathon running. This resulted in a big improvement (from 2.30 till 2.24). My main goal for the coming years is to improve my marathon time and to win big marathons.
Below: Ivy, Hugo and Valentine before a family party
Below: Elvin during a work-out on the track
Below: my mum, me, Sylvia, Valentine, Ivy and Caroline
Below: my brother Collins, the last one who started running.