Kenyan-Israeli marathon champion who was a nanny in Israel

In 2009, Chemtai emigrated from Kenya to Israel to work as a nanny of the former Kenya ambassador to Israel
She met her husband, Salpeter in Israel in 2011, and they both hit it off
Salpeter is a former middle-distance and mountain runner from Israel

Lonah Chemtai Salpeter has a powerful life story of conquering life after beating great odds in life.

Imagine this; she rose from a nanny to a celebrated Kenyan-Israeli runner. When she looks back, she sees a miracle invited by hard work, opportunity and determination.

Given her Kalenjin genetics, her passion for athletics was always there, but life’s challenges bogged her down. Chemtai did have an opportunity to run and win for her mother country.

However, Israel gave her a second chance.

WHO IS LONAH CHEMTAI SALPETER?

Lonah Chemtai Salpeter. Photo by YouTube

Lonaha Chemtai Salpeter is a Kalenjin born and raised in Kenya. She grew up in 1988 in the North Rift, West Pokot in particular. It’s a hardship area dogged by the lack of basic social amenities such as water, electricity and schools.

Back in the 90s, when she was growing up, this was her life, although things have changed a lot with the devolved government now. Water, electricity, schools and proper roads are now in place.

The 10,000-meter champion began running in elementary school and continued to compete after transitioning to high school. Then, she tried football, but it didn’t work out.

That’s when she shifted to focus to athletics and enjoyed it a lot.

HOW DID LONAH CHEMTAI SALPETER END UP IN ISRAEL?

In 2009, Chemtai emigrated from Kenya to Israel. She secured a job as a nanny for the Kenyan ambassador to Israel. It’s a job she did diligently, and it linked her to Dan Salpeter, a former middle-distance and mountain runner from Israel in 2011.

He eventually became her running coach, and they tied the knot. She delivered their firstborn son the same year at Moshav Yanuv where they lived.

The family has since relocated to Shoham. Salpeter and Chemtai flew to Kenya for their traditional wedding, and she was granted Israeli citizenship since she was now married to an Israeli.

WHICH RACES DID LONAH CHEMTAI SALPETER WIN?

As a youth, she did shorter runs before transitioning to the marathon. She ran for Maccabi, a Tel Aviv Club. In 2016, Chemtai finished first among women in the 2016 Tel Aviv Marathon in timing of 2:40:16.

This was five minutes slower than the Olympic qualification time. However, at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Chemtai represented Israel in the Olympics for the first time.

She was in the top half of the runners by the 30th kilometre with her time, placing her somewhere around 90th. At the 33rd kilometre, she stopped falling out after suffering a shoulder injury.

Lonah Chemtai Salpeter took time off to take care of her child, who was then 20 months old. During her training in Kenya, she experienced a lot of problems since she was still a lactating mother.

This limited her from participating in the European championships in Amsterdam’s half-marathon. Her time off helped her rejuvenate and come back victoriously.  She won a bronze medal in the marathon for Israel at the 2022 World Championships held in Oregon, US.

Dan Salpeter and his wife Lonah Chametai Salpeter. Photo/by Twitter

Besides, she posted 31:33.03, a new Israeli national record, in the 2018 European 10,000m Cup in London, which she won. She finished first in the 1500 metres at the Israeli National Championships in July 2018 with a time of 4:11.69.

Here are other races she participated in:

2018 10,000m European Athletics Championships (Gold medal)
2018 Florence Marathon
2019 Roma-Ostia Half Marathon
2019 Prague Marathon
2019 European 10,000m Cup in London
2020 AAF World Championships in Doha
2020 Tokyo Marathon
2021 Tuscany Camp Half Marathon in Siena, Italy
2021 Agmon Hahula Marathon
2021 Tokyo Olympics Marathon
2022 European Championships in Munich

After winning a bronze medal for Israel at the 2022 World Championships held in Oregon, the US, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid lauded her.

“Chemtai’s willpower and determination bring pride to Israeli athletics and the State of Israel as a whole. Lonah, you are a champion!” the Prime Minister said.

Lonah Chemtai Salpeter credits her success in the marathon to her husband.

“It was only after meeting my husband and coach, Dan Salpeter, that I started to enjoy real success,” she told Citizen TV.

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