Sport: Distance Running
Born: February 2, 1994
Edward Cheserek was born February 2, 1994 in Kenya. He grew up in a farming community situated two miles above sea level with his six brothers and sisters. Like many boys in the western highlands who are members of the Marakwet tribe, he did a lot of running. Edward was also a good soccer player. It was his soccer coach, in fact, who suggested he focus on running competitively when he was 14. Although he did not enjoy the rigorous training, Edward saw it might be a ticket to a better life, so he stuck with it. After winning a 10,000 meter race, he came to the attention of Father Richard Quinn, a New Jerseyan who ran an organization in Nairobi that identified gifted kids and arranged for scholarships in the United States.
In Edward’s case, his gift earned him a trip to St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, where he was coached by Marty Hannon. He quickly distinguished himself as the most dominant prep distance runner in the US, and was undefeated as a junior and senior. In 2011 and 2012, he won the prestigious FootLocker National Cross Country title. In 2012, Edward began the application process for US citizenship with the idea of competing as an American at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio. He applied based on his “extraordinary ability.” In 2013, he set a new prep indoor record in the 2 miles with a time of 8:39.15 at the Millrose Games in New York, bettering a mark that had stood for nearly a half-century.
That spring, Edward was named Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year and prepared for the next chapter of his career at the University of Oregon on a track scholarship. As a freshman for the Ducks, he won 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championship, and also won the 2014 NCAA indoor 3,000 and 5,000 meters as a freshman. At the 2014 NCAA Outdoors, Edward won the 10,000 meters and finished second in the 5,000. He earned 18 points in all to clinch Oregon’s team championship. One year later, Edward repeated as the NCAA outdoor champ in the 10,000 and edged teammate Eric Jenkins to take the 5,000 crown. The Ducks won the overall men’s and women’s championship by three points. In 2016, Edward pulled off a remarkable triple at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships when he won the 5,000 meters, 3,000 meters and ran the final 1,600-meter leg on the winning medley relay team. That spring, he won the two outdoor titles again.
That July, the Olympic Trials were to be held within jogging distance of Edward’s apartment in Eugene. However, his American citizenship application had not yet been approved, so he was unable to compete. In his final year at Oregon, Edward repeated as indoor champ in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters to finish with a career total of 17 NCAA championships—more than any college distance runner in history. He turned pro before the 2017 NCAA Outdoors.
Edward was not as dominant as a pro, but racked up his share of wins and records between 2018 and 2020. In 2018, he logged the second-fastest indoor mile in history at 3:49.44 and in 2019 he won the Carlsbad 5K with a record-tying time of 13:29. At the same event, his girlfriend, Sharon Lokedi, won the women’s 5K. With his American citizenship in limbo during the Trump presidency, Edward decided to compete for Kenya in international events in 2020 and was still waiting for his green card when the Olympics were moved to 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic.