Road race: 2019 review
Kenenisa Bekele wins 2019 Berlin Marathon
In Berlin, the spectators for a long time have been accustomed to new world records but after Kipchoge’s 2:01:39 finish last year – taking more than a minute off the old mark - everybody probably thought he had put the record out of reach.
But a rejuvenated Kenenisa Bekele, at age 37, shocked everyone finishing just two frustrating seconds shy from adding the marathon to his impressive world record CV with a time of 2:01:41. And despite being distanced by over a minute, Berhanu Legesse came in second moving into third on the all-time list with 2:02:47.
Meanwhile, in championships, it is always all about the head-to-head fight for positions and times are not important. This year in Doha, an extra challenge was expected from the weather. Despite being run at midnight, high temperature and high humidity was the forecast. Luckily the humidity dropped considerably compared to the women’s race and the running conditions became just “tough”, not “almost unbearable”.
Hiwot Gebrekidan and Gebretsadik Abraha took an Ethiopian double at the Guangzhou Marathon, smashing the course records at the World Athletics Gold Label road race.
The 24-year-old Gebrekidan enjoyed a comfortable sole lead before 30km and wrapped up her convincing victory with a lifetime best of 2:23:50, smashing the 2:25:12 course record set by compatriot Rahma Tusa in 2017.
Helped by a pacemaker, the women’s race was soon reduced to a duel between Gebrekidan and Kenya’s Celestine Chepchirchir before the 5km water tables. The duo led side-by-side and when they passed 25km in 1:24:38, they were already nearly five minutes ahead of the chasers and well on track for the course record.
After a further two kilometers, the in-form Ethiopian broke clear from Chepchirchir and continued widening the gap until the finish.
It is Gebrekidan’s second title over the classic distance following her victory two years ago at Lake Tiberias, where she achieved her previous PB of 2:25:45
Kunming International Marathon South China
Ethiopian athletes swept the titles in both the men’s and women’s events at the 2019 SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) Kunming International Marathon in Southwest China’s Yunnan province.
Dereje Debele Tulu from Ethiopia won the men’s full marathon race in 2:13:18, while his compatriot Mulu Seboka Seyfu triumphed in the women’s category in 2:32:54, both smashing the competition’s records.
Ethiopian athletes rounded up the top three in the men’s category.
About 20,000 runners from 35 countries and regions took part in the event, which featured a marathon, half-marathon and family-run, according to the organizing committee.
Amazingly the fastest 10km runner on the road was Letesenbet Gidey, who clocked a 29:43 intermediate time on her way to the 15km world best 44:20, taking 77 seconds off Joyciline Jepkosgei’s previous best, also an intermediate time of 45:37 in a half marathon in Prague 2017. What was even more impressive is the Ethiopian covered the last 10km in a much faster 29:12, five seconds faster than countrywoman Almaz Ayana’s 10,000m world record on track, 29:17.45 at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Women’s half marathon
Senbere Teferi clocked an Ethiopian national record of 1:05:32 in Valencia for a win in October. This is an interesting point knowing the distance running duel with Kenya and Ethiopia, because there are now nine Kenyans who have run faster than the Ethiopian record. Ethiopian-born Sifan Hassan is ahead of the Ethiopian record having set a Dutch record 1:05:15 in Copenhagen in 2018.
The 25-year-old also won the London marathon in April, in a 2:18:20 personal best and made her breakthrough this season. She has been running a marathon at top level since 2016 (2:24:45) and made steady improvements in 2017 (2:20:22) and 2018 (2:18:35), but still such a dominant world record was a surprise. The world leader before Chicago was Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, who won the Dubai marathon in 2:17:08 in April with Worknesh Degefa clocking in at 2:17:41 Ethiopian record for second.
(Compiled by Dawit Tolesa)