Sam Chelanga Looking Ahead

Sam Chelanga competes at last Sunday's B.A.A. Half Marathon. Photo:

The 28-year-old is coming off a half-marathon personal best.

(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

BOSTON — Finishing an easy cooldown run with Aaron Braun last Sunday, Sam Chelanga was all smiles. The 28-year-old had just run a personal best of 1:01:04 to take fourth at the B.A.A. Half Marathon, earning himself $1,500. A positive performance was just what the former NCAA champion needed.

“I’m finally feeling really good,” Chelanga told Race Results Weekly, grinning. “Unfortunately the day that I felt good we had some really fast runners. But I can say that after two months of training in New England and running a personal best, 61-something in Boston, it feels good.”

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In August, Chelanga moved from Oregon to West Lebanon, N.H., where he now trains with Ben True under Dartmouth College coach Mark Coogan. The transition is beginning to pay off. Not only is the Nairobi native happy with where his running is at, he’s found a comfort being on the East coast closer to his wife Marybeth’s roots.

“I needed this. Anybody that follows Sam Chelanga knows that I’ve had a rough, rough year,” he said, briefly touching upon a foot injury. “I’m happy to be home and I’m looking forward to good things to come.”

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For years, Chelanga has spoken about his love for Boston. His brother Joshua placed third at the 2001 Boston Marathon, spurring Chelanga’s desire to come to the city and race well. That he has done, finishing in the top five at B.A.A. races on five separate occasions. Last Sunday, sticking with eventual winner Lelisa Desisa and B.A.A. Distance Medley champion Stephen Sambu, Chelanga found himself in the lead pack through most of the race.

“I felt like we were going fast but I felt good. I was banking on the hills after seven miles,” he said. Though Desisa, Daniel Salel, and Sambu would break away late, Chelanga finished strong to earn a 38-second personal best. “I just felt like I wasn’t quite there with speed and stuff [to match the leaders]… But I am happy with it.”

Looking forward, the future is bright for Chelanga, just like his smile.

“I am going to do the marathon next year. Not in the spring but in the fall,” he said, the anticipation and excitement audible in his voice. “Also with my [American] citizenship coming in 2015, I am looking forward to representing New England well and everything.”

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