“Chemtai won the 2016 Tel Aviv Marathon clocking 2:40:16 smashing the qualification time for the 2016 Olympics. She then proceeded to represent Israel at the 2016 Summer Olympics in the marathon.”
Lonah Chemtai was born in a small community in the Rift Valley of Kenya's West Pokot County. She attended local schools where she also grew up.
In order to work as a nanny for the children of the then-Kenyan ambassador to Israel, she moved to Israel in 2008. In 2011 she met running instructor Dan Salpeter there, and the two started dating and got married in 2014, earning her citizenship in March 2016.
Lonah began her running career at a very young age, but at the time, she ran short distances. After meeting Dan who is also a former middle-distance and mountain runner and now her coach, she began running long-distance races in 2014.
She left the race at the 33rd kilometer and ranked 90th.
The 33-year-old competed in the 2017 London World Championship Marathon and came in 41st. Lonah won the 2018 European 10,000m Cup in London, clocking a time of 31:33.03, a new Israeli national record. In July 2018 she won the 1500 m at the Israeli National Championships with a time of 4:11.69.
Chemutai won the 10,000 meters 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin on 8 August 2018. She ran a time of 31:43.29. She became the first Israeli athlete to win a gold medal at the championships.
On 12 August 2018, she missed out on a medal after she stopped a lap early in the final of the 5,000 meters at the 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin. Before she mistakenly stopped, she had been in close second place.
Lonah won the Florence Marathon on 25 November 2018, setting an Israeli national record and course record of 2:24:17. It was the fifth marathon she was competing in. As of November 2018, Chemutai held Israeli national records for 1,500, 3,000, 5,000, and 10,000 meters, as well as the half marathon.
She won the Roma-Ostia Half Marathon in Rome, Italy, with a time of 1:06:40 in March 2019. In April 2019 she finished second in the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon in Prague, clocking a time of 1:06:09.
On 5 May 2019, she won the Prague Marathon, with a course record 2:19:46 time. It was an Israeli record, the fourth best ever time in Europe, and the 24th best in history among women.
She bagged a silver medal in the 2019 European 10,000m Cup in London setting an Israeli national record of 31:15.78. In September 2019, she ran the second fastest time in history, 30:05, over 10,000 meters to break the European record by 17 seconds. She ran the women’s marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Doha.
Lonah won the women’s event at the 2020 Tokyo marathon with a time of 2:17:45, setting a new record in the women’s race. She proceeded to compete for Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
She also won the Tuscany Camp Half Marathon in Siena, Italy, with a time of 1:07:09. On March 14, 2021, she won the Agmon Hahula Marathon in Hula Valley with a time of 2:22:37 and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
Lonah finished 66th in the women’s marathon at the Tokyo Olympics Marathon on August 6, 2021, with a time of 2:48:31. She lost pace in the race during the final four kilometers due to menstrual cramps.