© Copyright – 2019 – Athletics Illustrated

The 2019 IAAF Doha World Athletics Championships marathon should never have been run. With temperatures at a furnace-like 40 degrees centigrade or 104F, nearly half of the field dropped out including all three Ethiopians and Canadian Sasha Gollish at 25K.

Doha may put on a great championships event inside a stadium, but the country is not suited for endurance sports out-of-doors. The desert country is inhospitably dry and hot.

The city is suspected to have won the bid through a bribe process in 2011, where former IAAF employee Papa Massata Diack demanded a $4.5-million USD bribe in a bank transfer as well as $440,000 in cash to award Doha the meet. The Senegalese Diack and his father Lamine are both in jail. His father is the former president of the IAAF. Incarcerated, they were charged with extortion, bribery, money laundering, and other financial crimes. Under different leadership, Doha would likely not have the meet in their city.

Doha has been hell-bent on winning major championships. Some of the other events that they won the right to host are the 2014 FINA Diving Championships, 2017 FINA World Aquatic Championship and 2019 FINA Marathon Swim Championships. They also won the FIFA 2022 World Cup. In the process of hosting the soccer tournament, they have made a mockery of the global soccer schedule to suit their climate.

Photo credit: Gary Allen

Regardless, the marathon race started as planned at midnight Friday. The top five athletes went through 5K in the time of 18:21. The field was led by Lonah Chemtai. Nineteen more followed within four seconds. They were running at a pedestrian 2:34 pace early – smart move.

By 10K two had already dropped out. With the leaders passing through 10K in the time of 36:44 (2:35 pace) led by Kenyan Visiline Jepkesho, who would go on to finish 15th and in the time of 2:46.38. The lead pack was down to four.

At 15K another 10 athletes had already given up. The lead pack was still four strong with Chepngetich leading and Edna Kiplagat and a third Kenyan Jepkesho with her. All three were through in 54:01. The pace now on for a 2:32 finish.

Forty-one-year-old Canadian Lyndsay Tessier was in 52nd place through 5K, running conservatively. She passed 10K having moved up 12 spots to 40th, and at half-way was in 35th position and on pace for a 2:40:38 finish time.

By 30K, Tessier was in 14th position and 23 athletes had dropped out.

Former Kenyan Chelimo, now running for Bahrain, was leading the race in a group with Kenyans Kiplagat and Ruth Chepngetich as well as Helalia Johannes from Namibia.

In the end, Kenyan Chepngetich won in the time of 2:32:43, the second-place finisher was Chelimo in 2:33:46 and Johannes took third in 2:34:15.

American Roberta Groner was the first North American clocking in at 2:38:44 taking the sixth position.

Tessier moved all the way up to ninth with a 2:42:23 finish time. Fellow Canadian Sasha Gollish of Toronto dropped out at 25K, while Melanie Myrand finished in 2:57:40 and in 27th position.

Thirty of the 68 starters did not finish the race.

Chepngetich owns a personal best of 2:17:08 that she ran in Dubai in January of this year – more than 15 minutes faster. The performance is the third-fastest time in history behind only England’s Paula Radcliffe and her world record of 2:15:25 and Kenyan Mary Keitany’s 2:17:01.

Shoestrings: Canadians who moved on from their preliminary heats includes Mo Ahmed in the 5,000-metre event. He qualified with a fifth-fastest run on the day at 13:25.35. There was less than a second separating first place Selemon Barega ETH 13:24.69 and sixth fastest Birhanu Balew of Bahrain with his 13:25.70 performance.

Genevieve Lalonde qualified for the final in the 3,000m steeplechase running a 9:30.01, eight seconds off of the leader Peruth Chemutai of Uganda with her 9:21.98.

In the 100m heats, Aaron Brown eased through with a 10.16 in the 100m, as did Andre de Grasse with his 10.13, both Canadians finished second in their respective heats (1 and 2).

American Christian Coleman won the sixth heat in 9.98. Coleman came under scrutiny when he was the subject of an Athletics Integrity Unit investigation for missing three tests by failing in the whereabouts protocol, however, was allowed to compete after he pointed out that one of the three missed tests took place outside of the 12-month time-frame (for missing three tests).

Jamaican Yohan Blake once suspended for taking performance-enhancing drugs won heat 4 in the time of 10.07. The controversial Just Gatlin won heat 2 in the time of 10.06. He has been suspended twice. At 37 years of age and serving two suspensions, no one at this time trusts that he is clean.

Canadian Lindsay Butterworth qualified for the semi-final round in the 800m distance in heat 3 with a 2:01.64 finish time, coming in fourth position. She was in the fastest heat as Ugandan Winnie Nanyondo clocked the fastest time on the day at 2:00.36.

Full results and viewing schedule is available, here>>