Ruth Chepngetich wins the Nagoya Women's Marathon (© Kazuaki Matsunaga / Agence SHOT)
Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich rallied to record the second-fastest ever women-only marathon at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon on Sunday (13), clocking 2:17:18 to win the World Athletics Elite Platinum Label road race.
The world marathon champion ran a negative split – covering the first half in 1:09:03 and the second in 1:08:15 – to triumph ahead of Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter and claim the current largest first-place prize money in marathon running: US$250,000.
Chepngetich had been targeting her own PB of 2:17:08, run in a mixed race in Dubai in 2019, and achieving that would have taken her very close to her compatriot Mary Keitany’s women-only marathon world record of 2:17:01 set in London in 2017. When she ran solo through half way in 1:09:03 and passed 30km in 1:38:14, it looked like that target might be out of reach. Salpeter had also caught her by that point, but that only spurred Chepngetich on.
Digging deep, Chepngetich recorded 16:03 for the next 5km to re-establish her dominance and another 5km split of 16:05 put her well clear of her rivals by 40km, which she passed in 2:10:22. Glancing over her shoulder, she could see no threat but continued to push hard to the finish line, crossing it just 10 seconds outside her PB, in 2:17:18, to win by almost a minute and a half. As well as being the second-quickest women-only marathon in history behind Keitany’s record, it is also the second-fastest ever women's marathon on Japanese soil.
The 2020 Tokyo Marathon winner Salpeter secured second place in 2:18:45, exactly a minute off her national record run in Japan’s capital city, to record – like Chepngetich – the second-fastest marathon time of her career. Japan’s Yuka Ando was third in 2:22:22 and her compatriots Ai Hosoda and Yuka Suzuki were next to finish, running 2:24:26 and a debut 2:25:02 respectively to finish fourth and fifth.
"I wanted to run a new course record and ran comfortably," Chepngetich said. "When Lonah arrived, I decided to push myself because I prepared to win at this race."
Running with the pacemakers, Chepngetich had formed part of the lead group that passed 5km in 16:34, joined by Ando, Salpeter and Hosoda. Keen to pick things up, Chepngetich moved ahead a short while later and was running alone through 10km, which she passed in 32:43, 25 seconds ahead of the chase trio. She had increased that advantage to 45 seconds by 15km.
Salpeter and Ando had left Hosoda behind by the half way point, which they passed in 1:09:47, but then Salpeter kicked. Running 15:59 for the 5km split between 20km and 25km, Salpeter closed the gap and was just four seconds behind leader Chepngetich at 30km - 1:38:14 to 1:38:18.
Chepngetich wasn’t done, though, and pushed up the incline to move away from her rival. Running 16:03 between 30km and 35km, the Kenyan had regained a nine second advantage by 35km and only continued to pull away. She was 55 seconds ahead at 40km and increased that to 1:27 by the finish.
Salpeter also ran a negative split of 1:08:58 compared to her first half of 1:09:47 to finish inside the previous event record. The top eight – completed by Australia’s Eloise Wellings (2:25:10 PB), Japan’s Ikumi Fukura (2:25:15) and Kotona Ota (2:25:56) – all broke 2:26:00, while a total of 15 athletes went sub-2:30:00.
Jess Whittington for World Athletics
1 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 2:17:18
2 Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (ISR) 2:18:45
3 Yuka Ando (JPN) 2:22:22
4 Ai Hosoda (JPN) 2:24:26
5 Yuka Suzuki (JPN) 2:25:02
6 Eloise Wellings (AUS) 2:25:10
7 Ikumi Fukura (JPN) 2:25:15
8 Kotona Ota (JPN) 2:25:56
9 Kanako Takemoto (JPN) 2:26:23
10 Chiharu Ikeda (JPN) 2:26:50