Gotytom Gebreslase Wins World Marathon Gold in Championship Record
With a strong downhill surge in the 41st kilometer, Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia won the 2022 world marathon title in 2:18:11. The time set a new championship record; the previous mark of 2:20:57 was held by Paula Radcliffe.
Judith Korir of Kenya, who led Gebreslase by half a step for most of the closing miles, finished second in 2:18:18, and Lonah Salpeter of Israel took the bronze medal in 2:20:18.
Sara Hall was the top American finisher, placing fifth in 2:22:10. Emma Bates placed seventh in a personal best of 2:23:18, and U.S. record-holder Keira D’Amato finished eighth in 2:23:34. D’Amato was added to the team at the beginning of the month after Molly Seidel withdrew because of injury. The three ran together through the middle miles until Hall, ninth at halfway, pulled away and started picking off former members of the lead pack.
Today’s 5-7-8 is the best team performance by a U.S. squad, male or female, since the marathon world championship was first run in 1983. They succeeded thanks to just the right mixture of aggressiveness and patience.
“I went out with the leaders, but then I could tell it was a little too fast,” Hall said. “So fortunately I had talked to Emma and Keira and been like,‘Hey, I’d love to work with you guys. I don’t want to mess up your mojo, but if we’re together somewhere I’d love to work together.’ So thankfully Emma and I found each other.
"I was checking our splits and we were running plenty fast out there, so I didn’t really want to run faster than that,” Hall continued. “It was awesome to get to work with [Emma] for so much of the race.”
Bates, who was the top American at Chicago last October, said, “My coach and I had decided that I go out in 70-minute pace for the first half. Which I had never done before, that’s close to my PR for the half marathon. We knew I could be in 2:20 range, fitness-wise.
“I went out with Sara. We were planning on working together before the race, so it was great the first lap to be with each other and then the second lap. Sara took off the later portion of the second lap. So proud of her today for going after it. She really pulled me along that first bit.
“I’m very happy,” Bates continued. “I always want more, we always want more. But to be top 10 in the world is something really really cool, especially on U.S. soil. And to run a PR doing it, it’s something that I won’t forget.”
Well past 30K, Hall was still acknowledging cheering spectators (including Olympian and fellow Flagstaff resident Rachel Schneider).
“I think this is the most fun I’ve ever had in a marathon,” Hall said. “I wanted to smile as much as I could early on, ’cause you know its gonna turn to a grimace eventually. But I was even smiling that last lap. I’m really thankful for everyone that turned out, ’cause I knew that this would be so special. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the opportunity to run a championship like this in the U.S. again.”
How the Race Was Won
Within the opening kilometer, it was obvious that the script for yesterday’s men’s marathon—a huge lead pack running cautiously for the first half—would be ignored. Headed by three Kenyans and three Ethiopians, the leaders took off at 2:17 marathon pace. D’Amato started with the pack but dropped back in the fifth kilometer; in the 12th kilometer, a chase pack led by Bates and Hall caught D’Amato, who then tucked in.
Toward the end of the first of three 14-kilometer loops, the chase pack got within 11 seconds of the leaders. Korir then spurted ahead just before an aid station. That reestablished a quicker tempo for the leaders, and the chase pack’s hope of joining the leaders was permanently ended.
The first significant event occurred in the 19th kilometer, when defending champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya stepped off the course, apparently looking for tall grass in which to make a pit stop. Sensing an opportunity, Gebreslase and fellow Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh surged on a downhill stretch. Subsequent kilometers of 3:05 and 3:09 (an average of roughly 5:00 mile pace) pared the group to four. They passed halfway in 69:01; the chase pack, including the three Americans, hit halfway in 70:17.
Toward the end of the second lap, Korir again surged approaching an aid station. Her teammate Angela Tanui briefly lost contact for the second time, clawed her way back, but was then dropped for good. In the 27th kilometer Yeshaneh started grabbing at her side and was left by the eventual gold and silver medalists.
Korir and Gebreslase ran within inches of each other for most of the third lap; the Ethiopian was usually just off of Korir’s right shoulder. Korir occasionally motioned to her rival to either help with the pace or back off a bit. It was hard to tell who was feeling more feisty or fatigued.
Or at least it was until the overpass over Route I-5. After cresting the summit, Gebreslase leaned into the long, gradual descent toward the finish. She almost immediately had two, then three, then five seconds on Korir. Gebreslase, who won Berlin last fall, had judged her effort perfectly. For the second day in a row, an Ethiopian won the world title in a championship record.
posted Monday July 18th
by Scott Douglas