WC Men’s Marathon — The Sauna Was Set On Medium

It wasn’t as bad as the women’s race, but Lelisa Desisa was well prepared for the heat. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

THE ETHIOPIAN DUO of Lelisa Desisa and the favored Mosinet Geremew swept the top 2 places of the 26-miler after covering every move and sprinting away from Kenyan Amos Kipruto in the final kilometer. Compared to the oppressive conditions of the women’s race, the men caught a break: while temperatures remained in the mid-80s (29C) the dew point dropped significantly to a more manageable 58.

Despite the better weather the race started at a cautious rate as a large pack of over 30 runners covered the opening 10K in 31:40—running a minute behind Paraguay’s Derlis Ayala. The chase pack stayed together through 15K at 2:13:57 pace but in kilo 18 Zersenay Tadese began to lean into the pace. The former half-marathon recordholder has struggled over the full distance but here delivered his most impactful effort as he abandoned the leisurely 3:08–3:15 kilos and began to hammer out a steady string of 2:50–3:01s that quickly strung out the pack and sent them past the fading Ayala.

Tadese continued to press the pace with defending champ Geoffrey Mutai chipping in. Zipping 30:01 over the 10K between 15 and 25K (1:17:38—2:11:02 pace) the race was quickly pared down to an All-African event with only Kipruto, Desisa, Geremew and Kipruto able to stick with the faster tempo. The lead sextet eased back a bit covering the subsequent 5K in 15:35 reaching 30K in 2:11:07 pace. South African Stephen Mokoka helped sustain the steady 15:35 tempo through 35K but the distance began to take a toll as first Kirui fell from the lead group followed by Tadese. Meanwhile Moroccan Hamza Sahli and Great Britain’s Callum Hawkins began to close in on the leading foursome.

Desisa moved to the front at 37K and ran a couple of 3:02s before easing back. The pace lull gave Hawkins an opportunity to reel in the lead quartet as the gritty 27 year-old Scot, who was 4th in ’17, was coping well after bonking in the heat of last year’s Commonwealth Marathon in Australia. Approaching 40K Hawkins caught the lead group and went right to the front and pushed the pace higher, dropping Mokoka. A couple of minutes later Desisa went to the front and began a long finishing drive that relegated Hawkins to his second straight just-missed-the-podium finish.

Some 2:00 into Desisa’s finishline push Kipruto let go and settled for the bronze. Just 200m from the line, Geremew looked ready to move to the front for the first time in the race, but Desisa hit his victory gear and opened a 15m gap to hit the tape in 2:10:40.

Lelisa fares exceedingly well in championship-style racing, having finished 2nd in the ’13 WC, twice run to victory in Boston and won New York City last year. “I prepared for this race in hot conditions,” he said. “I followed every attack, controlled everybody and saved my power for the finish.”


(October 05–06) (temperature 84F/29C; humidity 51%)

1. Lelisa Desisa (Eth) 2:10:40

(16:08, 15:33 [31:41], 15:58 [47:39], 15:06 [62:45], 14:54 [1:17:39], 15:35 [1:33:14], 15:37 [1:48:51], 15:34 [2:04:25])(1:05:57/1:04:43;

2. Mosinet Geremew (Eth) 2:10:44


3. Amos Kipruto (Ken) 2:10:51


4. Callum Hawkins (GB) 2:10:57


5. Stephen Mokoka (SA) 2:11:09


6. Zersenay Tadese (Eri) 2:11:29


7. El Hassan El Abbassi (Bhr) 2:11:44


8. Hamza Sahili (Mor) 2:11:49


9. Tadesse Abraham (Swi) 2:11:58;

10. Daniel Mateo (Spa) 2:12:15;

11. Laban Korir (Ken) 2:12:38;

12. Yassine Rachik (Ita) 2:12:41;

13. Fred Musobo (Uga) 2:13:42;

14. Geoffrey Kirui (Ken) 2:13:54;

15. Eyob Ghebrehiwet Faniel (Ita) 2:13:57;

16. Alphonce Felix (Tan) 2:13:57;

17. Thomas Rainhold (Nam) 2:14:38;

18. Stephen Kiprotich (Uga) 2:15:04;

19. Paulo Roberto Paula (Bra) 2:15:09;

20. Shaohui Yang (Chn) 2:15:17;

21. Gopi Thonakal (Ind) 2:15:57;

22. Félicien Muhitira (Rwa) 2:16:21;

23. Ahmed Osman (US) 2:16:22;

24. Weldu Negash Gebretsadik (Nor) 2:16:35;

25. Hiroki Yamagishi (Jpn) 2:16:43;

26. Tiidrek Nurme (Est) 2:17:38;

27. Malcolm Hicks (NZ) 2:17:45;

28. Adhanom Abraha (Swe) 2:17:57;

29. Yuki Kawauchi (Jpn) 2:17:59;

30. Caden Shields (NZ) 2:18:08;

31. Thijs Nijhuis (Den) 2:18:10;

32. Desmond Mokgobu (SA) 2:18:21;

33. Roman Fosti (Est) 2:18:30;

34. Mgondzashe Ncube (Zim) 2:18:42;

35. Fyodor Shutov (Rus) 2:18:58;

36. John Mason (Can) 2:19:21;

37. Kohei Futaoka (Jpn) 2:19:23;

38. Elkanah Kibet (US) 2:19:33;

39. Julian Spence (Aus) 2:19:40;

40. Byambajav Tseveenravdan (Mgl) 2:20:07;

41. Lemawork Ketema (Aut) 2:20:45;

42. Thomas De Bock (Bel) 2:21:13;

43. Stephen Scullion (Ire) 2:21:31;

44. Wellington da Silva (Bra) 2:21:49;

45. Berhanu Girma (Eth) 2:22:28;

46. Andrew Epperson (US) 2:23:11;

47. Munyaradzi Jari (Zim) 2:23:34;

48. Dmitrijs Serjogins (Lat) 2:24:00;

49. Andrey Petrov (Uzb) 2:24:54;

50. Ihor Porozov (Ukr) 2:26:11;

51. Vagner Noronha (Bra) 2:26:11;

52. Isaac Mpofu (Zim) 2:29:24;

53. Uladzislau Pramau (Blr) 2:31:04;

54. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mgl) 2:36:01;

55. Nicolás Cuestas (Uru) 2:40:05;

… dnf—Polat Kemboi Arıkan (Tur), Derlis Ayala (Par), Bujie Duo (Chn), Mohamed Reda El Aaraby (Mor), Mert Girmalegese (Tur), Stephano Gwandu Huche (Tan), Olivier Irabaruta (Bur), Merhawi Kesete (Eri), Evans Kiplagat (Aze), Paul Lonyangata (Ken), Daniele Meucci (Ita), Thabiso Moeng (SA), Solomon Mutai (Uga), Tony Payne (Tha), Agustino Sulle (Tan), Benson Seurei (Bhr), Okbay Tsegay (Eri), Mule Wasihun (Eth).

Leader splits: Ayala 15:06, 30:40, 46:34, 62:38; Kirui 1:17:38; Tadese 1:33:13; Mokoka 1:48:48; Hawkins 2:04:24. ◻︎