World Champs Women’s Marathon — Leading Late

Goytatom Gebreselassie ignored Judith Korir’s entreaties to share the pacing, then kicked away late. (KEVIN MORRIS)

AFTER SPENDING THE FIRST 40 kilometers ever-so-reluctant to assume the lead, Goytatom Gebreselassie grabbed the front position from Judith Korir 2 kilometers from the finish and went on to claim the gold, clocking 2:18:11. Korir finished 9 seconds back with a PR 2:18:20. Lonah Chemtai Salpeter claimed Israel’s first WC medal taking 3rd in 2:20:18.

Nazret Weldu finished a close 4th in an Eritrean Record 2:20:29 as the top 4 all bettered Paul Radcliffe’s MR of 2:20:57 set at Helsinki ’05.

Sara Hall (2:22:10) led a very strong showing by the U.S. team, finishing 5th, followed by Emma Bates (2:23:18) in 7th and Keira D’Amato in 8th (2:23:34).

Favored Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich lit out from the start at a high pace pulling a lead pack of 10 clear of the field with a 3:18 opening kilometer. The tempo got even faster, hitting 9:44 at 3K as AR holder D’Amato let go of the brazen rhythm, drifting back to join Hall and Bates in the chase pack.

Chepngetich continued to push, hitting 5K in 16:10 and 9K in 29:12 (2:16:54 pace) with the full contingent of Kenyan (Korir & Angela Tanui) and Ethiopian (Gebreselassie, Ashete Bekere, Abanel Yeshaneh) runners at her heels along with Salpeter and Weldu.

After forging a 41-second lead over the pack, Chepngetich eased off and the lead shrank to 11 seconds at the completion of the first 14K loop in 46:19 (2:19 pace).

The second loop began much like the first with Tanui ramping up the tempo with a string of sub 3:20 kilos. Once again the eight women lead pack steadily pulled away from the pack.

After passing 18K in 59:22, the gap between the two packs had grown to 35 seconds when Chepngetich stepped off the course suffering from stomach issues.

Gebreselassie and Yeshaneh seized upon the opportunity and hit the gas, ripping off a 3:05 K that split the lead pack in two with Korir and Tanui able to stick with the surge, while Bekere, Salpeter and Weldu fell off the pace.

By the time the leaders passed halfway in 69:01 they were 20 seconds up on Salpeter and Weldu, and 55 ahead of the U.S. trio (70:17).

Heading into the final lap, Korir and Gebreselassie ran together, as first Tanui, then Yeshaneh, had been dropped. Salpeter and Weldu were 43 seconds off the pace, and Hall was 1:45 back as she pulled ahead of D’Amato and Bates.

The Ethiopian squad soon paid a mighty price for the robust opening cadence as Bekere pulled out at 30K, and shortly after being passed by Salpeter and Weldu, Yeshaneh also stepped off the course.

Up front, Korir did her best to drop Gebreselassie, who shadowed her every move. The 26-year old Kenyan, who ran 2:19:48 to win Paris in April, hammered the 25–30K segment in 16:05 to pull the pace down to 2:18:01, but couldn’t shake her rival or even get her to share the lead.

“It bothered me a bit that she did not want to pace with me,” Korir admitted. She throttled back to 16:33 for the 30–35K split, and 16:36 to reach 40K in 2:11:17 (2:18:16 pace).

The 27-year old Gebreselassie, running just her third marathon, was more than content to maintain her catbird position, explaining, “The Kenyan runner asked me to pass her, but I stayed patient. Towards 40km, I felt strong and decided to leave.”

Gebreselassie made her break on the downhill slope of the overpass 2K from the finish. A 3:10 for kilo 41 opened a 4-second gap on Korir, and a 3:08 closed the deal, as the Ethiopian’s 2:18:11 gold medal win more than compensated for her teammates’ DNFs.

Salpeter dispatched Weldu in the 39th kilometer and finished in 2:20:18 to claim the bronze that eluded her in last year’s Olympic 26-miler. Hall made a determined run up through the fading runners from the lead pack, passing Tanui just before the finish.


(July 18; three 14K loops plus 2.195 finish)

(temperature 50–61F/10–16C); humidity 90–75%)

1. Goytatom Gebreselassie (Eth) 2:18:11 PR, MR (=15, x W)

(16:10, 16:29 [32:39], 16:50 [49:29], 16:07 [65:36], 16:28 [1:22:04], 16:05 [1:38:09], 16:32 [1:54:41], 16:36 [2:11:17]) (69:01/69:10);

2. Judith Korir (Ken) 2:18:20 PR


3. Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (Isr) 2:20:18


4. Nazret Weldu (Eri) 2:20:29 NR


5. Sara Hall (US) 2:22:10


6. Angela Tanui (Ken) 2:22:15


7. Emma Bates (US) 2:23:18 PR


8. Keira D’Amato (US) 2:23:34


9. Mizuki Matsuda (Jpn) 2:23:49; 10. Citlali Moscote (Mex) 2:26:33; 11. Deshun Zhang (Chn) 2:28:11; 12. Jess Piasecki (GB) 2:28:41; 13. Leslie Sexton (Can) 2:28:52; 14. Sarah Klein (Aus) 2:30:10 PR; 15. Militsa Mircheva (Bul) 2:30:20; 16. Alisa Vainio (Fin) 2:30:29; 17. Tereza Hrochová (CzR) 2:30:39; 18. Risper Gesabwa (Mex) 2:30:47; 19. Mieke Gorissen (Bel) 2:31:06; 20. Beverly Ramos (PR) 2:31:10 NR; 21. Zhanna Mamazhanova (Kaz) 2:31:15; 22. Zhixuan Li (Chn) 2:31:20; 23. Maor Tiyouri (Isr) 2:31:54; 24. Hanna Lindholm (Swe) 2:32:08; 25. Carolina Wikström (Swe) 2:32:24; 26. Kinsey Middleton (Can) 2:32:56; 27. Elissa Legault (Can) 2:37:35; 28. Andrijana Pop Arsova (Mac) 2:41:20; 29. Christy Yiu Kit Ching (HK) 2:43:13; 30. Munkhzaya Bayartsogt (Mgl) 2:46:09; 31. Chun-Yu Tsao (Tai) 2:47:02; 32. Aydee Huaman (Per) 3:04:16;

… dnf—Rosalba Chacha (Ecu), Rose Harvey (GB), Ababel Yeshaneh (Eth), Ashete Bekere (Eth), Immaculate Chemutai (Uga), Ruth Chepngetich (Ken), Andrea Bonilla (Ecu), Charlotte Purdue (GB).

(leader splits: Chepngetich 16:10, 32:39; Tanui 49:29; Gebreselassie 65:36, 1:22:04; Korir 1:38:08, 1:54:41, 2:11:17)