© Copyright – 2023 – Athletics Illustrated

In marathon running, like auto racing, the statement: “To achieve anything in this game you must be prepared to dabble in the boundary of disaster,” by Sterling Moss was salient.

Ethiopia ran as a team

The Ethiopians dabbled, and they won, they placed and they DNF’d, but at the end of the day, they won.

Team Ethiopia dominated the women’s marathon at the 2023 Budapest World Athletics Championships on early Sunday morning in the streets of the capital of Hungary. Shockingly, Team Kenya, had by their standards, a failure — a big miss.

Ethiopians finished in first, second, and fifth with one DNF (did not finish). Kenyans had finishers place in sixth and seventh as well as one DNF.

Lead pack with Salpeter of Isreal (white top) in front with two Kenyans Wanjiru and Kaptich, Canada’s Wodak and American Flanagan working with the group on the outside. Photo credit: Mary Hinze.

The race started out tactically. The majority of the athletes were working their way together through the stunning streets of Budapest. It was a warm and sunny morning. Leading the early kilometres were Lonah Salpeter representing Isreal, as well as the four Ethiopians Amane Beriso Shankule, Gotytom Gebreslase, Yalemzerf Yehualaw and Tsehay Gemechu. There were the Kenyans in Shyline Jepkorir Toroitich, Rosemary Wanjiru and Selly Chepyego Kaptich. Fatima Ezzahra Gardadi of Morocco would factor into the mix early and during the late going.

A lead pack of approximately 15 – 20 would surge on both sides of the water bottle stations. They did this for up to approximately one kilometre each time and then settled the pace back. The surges were between 3:11-3:14/per km pace, then would settle back down to 3:20-plus. During the slower periods, the chase back and stragglers would catch up to form a larger group of 25-plus.

Canada’s Natasha Wodak, the national record holder at 2:23:12 and 12th place finisher during the Tokyo Olympic marathon spent time at the front as well as tucking into the lead pack. Smartly, she and a few others allowed the East Africans to surge hard, sacrificing the gamers in the process. Americans Lindsay Flanagan, Keira D’Amato and Susanna Sullivan did well working their positions in and out of the lead and chase packs. The early pace, however, may have got to D’Amato, the former American record holder. Certainly, teammate Sullivan paid for her roque early miles, leading the entire field by nearly 20 seconds for several kilometres.

After 5K, the pack swallowed her up toward the water bottle station. Then the field surged only to let her go again and then swallow her up once more and for good. In the realm of “learn or win,” perhaps the Americans and Kenyans would have placed much better if they took a page out of the Ethiopian playbook.

Legend, Catherine Ndereba, let lose on the Kenyan’s efforts

Kenyan legend Catherine Ndereba post-race didn’t hold back in criticising her country’s athletes. She blamed a lack of mental strength and poor tactics for Kenya’s poor showing. Where the Ethiopians shared water-logged sponges and water bottles, the Kenyans ran more as individuals.

“Running is 75 percent is mental, 25 percent is physical. So, if you are not mentally ready, you will have it difficult,” Ndereba said on KBC TV.

After the 32-kilometre “warm-up,” all four Ethiopians surged, then began to break apart as the race became an individual effort. Gemechu dropped out. She appeared to be labouring with either a left hip issue or a stitch, she appeared to be devastated, leaning on the temporary fencing.

As the three remaining Ethiopians spread out, Moroccan Gardadi, inched her way forward looking stronger as each kilometre slipped by. Late during the race at approximately 41K, she passed Yehaulaw who seemed distraught. She flailed her arms and was grimacing, head tilting side to side in the effort. Gardadi continued her pursuit to take the bronze medal. She celebrated vociferously, as did her entourage.

There was no doubt about Shankule’s win over the final minutes. She clocked a 2:24:23 performance, which was fast considering the tactical nature of the race, heat, and slow start. Teammate Gebreslase overtook Yehualaw with a few kilometres remaining to take silver recording a 2:24:34 finish time. Salpeter patiently worked her way to the finish earning a respectable fourth-place position in 2:25:38. It was a return to form for Salpeter who melted in the Tokyo heat during the 2020 Olympic marathon.

Mizuki Matsuda led Team Japan to finish 13th in 2:29:15. Her teammates finished in 19th and 20th position for a solid team effort. American Flanagan was pleased with ninth.

There were 11 who officially DNF’d, while one did not start and two others were listed without accomplishing finish times. Temperatures started in the low 20s and climbed to the high 20s throughout the race. Hot, by marathon standards, but much more civilized than Sapporo where the Tokyo Olympic Marathons were run with temperatures topping out at 34C. And certainly much better than the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships, where temperatures started in the high 30s.


Women’s Marathon – Saturday, August 26

1Amane Beriso SHANKULEETH2:24:23 SB
2Gotytom GEBRESLASEETH2:24:34 SB
3Fatima Ezzahra GARDADIMAR2:25:17
4Lonah Chemtai SALPETERISR2:25:38 SB
5Yalemzerf YEHUALAWETH2:26:13
6Rosemary WANJIRUKEN2:26:42
7Selly Chepyego KAPTICHKEN2:27:09
8Nazret WELDUERI2:27:23 SB
9Lindsay FLANAGANUSA2:27:47
10Dolshi TESFUERI2:28:54
11Melat Yisak KEJETAGER2:29:04
12Giovanna EPISITA2:29:10
13Mizuki MATSUDAJPN2:29:15
14Rebecca CHEPTEGEIUGA2:29:34 SB
15Natasha WODAKCAN2:30:09 SB
16Lisa WEIGHTMANAUS2:30:50
17Keira D’AMATOUSA2:31:35 SB
18Mercyline CHELANGATUGA2:31:40
19Rika KASEDAJPN2:31:53 SB
20Sayaka SATOJPN2:31:57 SB
21Doreen CHESANGUGA2:32:11
22Alisa VAINIOFIN2:32:14
23Ümmü KIRAZTUR2:33:23 PB
24Nóra SZABÓHUN2:33:28
25Rkia EL MOUKIMMAR2:33:54
26Moira STEWARTOVÁCZE2:34:02
27Meritxell SOLERESP2:34:38
28Gulshanoi SATAROVAKGZ2:35:06 SB
29Silvia ORTIZECU2:35:09
30Natasha COCKRAMGBR2:35:34 SB
31Khishigsaikhan GALBADRAKHMGL2:35:38 SB
32Zhixuan LICHN2:35:48
33Bojana BJELJACCRO2:35:49 SB
35Zaida RAMOSPER2:36:23
36Militsa MIRCHEVABUL2:36:45 SB
37Clementine MUKANDANGARWA2:37:09 SB
38Marta GALIMANYESP2:37:10 SB
39Hanne VERBRUGGENBEL2:37:15
40Monika JACKIEWICZPOL2:37:18
41Sarah KLEINAUS2:37:31
42Mokulubete Blandina MAKATISILES2:37:49 SB
43Isobel BATT-DOYLEAUS2:37:53
44Risper GESABWAMEX2:38:29
45Irvette VAN ZYLRSA2:38:32 SB
46Loreta KANČYTĖLTU2:38:52
47Valdilene DOS SANTOS SILVABRA2:39:58
48Deshun ZHANGCHN2:40:17
49Alina ARMASNAM2:40:49 SB
50Julia MAYERAUT2:41:54
51Rosa CHACHAECU2:42:00
52Andreia HESSELBRA2:42:23 SB
53Nicolasa CONDORIPER2:42:25
54Nina CHYDENIUSFIN2:42:36
55Fortunate CHIDZIVOZIM2:43:28
56Argentina VALDEPEÑAS CERNAMEX2:43:35
57Katalin KOVÁCS-GARAMIHUN2:44:02
58Susanna SULLIVANUSA2:44:24
59Karen EHRENREICHDEN2:44:46
60Solange JESUSPOR2:45:08
61Sasha GOLLISHCAN2:45:09 SB
63Neja KRŠINARSLO2:46:55 SB
65Chun-Yu TSAOTPE2:55:33
 Andrea Paola BONILLAECU