Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebreslase wins women’s world championship marathon

The World Championship Women’s Marathon was a race filled with races. The leaders took off at a pace five minutes faster than the world championship record. Then they slowed down. Then they jumped. Then they slow down again. It was fartlek training disguised as a marathon.

In the end, Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia and Judith Korir of Kenya were the ones to emerge and race step by step for the final kilometers of the race, chasing the 17-year-old world championship record set by Paula Radcliffe of Grande -Brittany.

Gebreslase won the race in 2 hours 18 minutes 11 seconds, beating Radcliffe in 2:20:57.

The race, which took place on the streets of Eugene, Oregon, and neighboring Springfield, was a lesson in patience for the chasing pack, which included three Americans, Sara Hall, Keira D’Amato and Emma Bates, when they made it through the first lap. of the three-lap course. Immediately before the race, Hall asked his teammates if they wanted to work together if they found themselves running at a similar pace. Both enthusiastically agreed and controlled the pace together in groups of twos and threes for parts of the race.

It was a different story up front, where the leaders played with the rhythm and the ebbs and flows with spectacular pushes.

A leading pack of eight riders, led by defending champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya, broke away early at a breakneck pace of 2 hours and 16 minutes. (The women’s marathon world record is 2:14:04 a.m.) It became survival of the fittest and a test to see who would fall first and who would slip over the leaders with a firmer hand.

It was Chepngetich – who holds the fourth fastest marathon time ever – who left the course around the 11-mile mark. She immediately went into the brush and briefly disappeared, a move that many runners may have recognized and later confirmed to be stomach issues. She did not re-enter the race.

Then Ababel Yeshaneh from Ethiopia fell by the wayside. Yeshaneh, who was in contention for third place, retired from the race with less than seven miles to go.

The race for bronze then was between Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel and Nazret Weldu of Eritrea. Salpeter, who won the Tokyo Marathon in March 2020, was hungry for redemption on the world stage. She was in the lead pack with less than three miles remaining at the Tokyo Olympic marathon last year, but had to take a break due to menstrual cramps. (When asked about the incident, she looked at the only female reporter in the crowd and said, “You understand.”) She finished 66th.

Salpeter made her move ahead of the final straight away, walking away from Weldu and leaving no doubt in her mind that she would win a long-awaited medal.

“If you don’t fail, you don’t know how to succeed,” she said after the race, giddy with excitement. She was quick to add that she would be returning to Israel on Tuesday, as her young son was already asking when he would get the medal.

Hall, the first American to cross the finish line, was in fifth place with a time of 2:22:10, a smile plastered on her face.

“I think it’s the most fun marathon I’ve ever had,” she said. Indeed, she held up her hands to cheer on the crowd as the race progressed and even said she was smiling in the final miles, cheered on by the Oregon crowd. Bates finished in 2:23:18, a new personal best, and D’Amato, the American marathon record holder, was eighth in 2:23:34.

D’Amato’s performance was particularly notable as she was a late addition to the team. She was selected less than three weeks ago to replace Molly Seidel, the marathon bronze medalist at the Tokyo Games, who withdrew due to injury. Sharing the news on Instagram, Seidel wrote that “if there’s anyone who could rise to the challenge at such short notice, it’s her.”

It turns out you can’t exactly prepare for a marathon, D’Amato said. “I was definitely touched by that,” she said with a laugh. “I think a short, marathon build is not the way to go.”

She was training for shorter races when she was called upon to join the US marathon delegation and didn’t hesitate. She’s been on a long run for the past two weeks and said she laughs every time she really thinks about what she signed up for.

“I was so proud of us, you know, to be the caboose of Team USA and to finish eighth, that’s really awesome,” D’Amato said.

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