Yimer and Wereta cast a long shadow

Edwin  - CEO March 17, 2024
Updated 2024/03/17 at 12:14 PM
5 Min Read
Jemal Yimer Mekonnen at the World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga 23 (© Lauris Viksne)/World Athletics
Jemal Yimer Mekonnen at the World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga 23 (© Lauris Viksne)/World Athletics

Secure Ethiopian double in Seoul


Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer (© Getty Images)

Jemal Yimer prevailed after a sprint finish in the men’s race, while Fikrte Wereta claimed a clear women’s race win to secure an Ethiopian double at the Seoul Marathon on Sunday (17), World Athletics.


It was a first World Athletics Platinum Label road race win for both athletes, two-time world half marathon fourth-place finisher Yimer continuing his marathon journey with an almost three-minute PB of 2:06:08 and Wereta also running a lifetime best of 2:21:32.


A big group remained together in the men’s race until after 30km, when Yimer formed part of a breakaway group of seven. The 27-year-old had been happy to sit back in the pack up to that point, passing 10km in 29:43 and 20km in 59:54.


The pace remained consistent as he reached 25km in 1:14:37, and 12 athletes were still running together at the 30km mark, hit by the leaders at 1:29:35.


Yimer’s compatriot Guye Adola, the 2021 Berlin Marathon champion, had looked in control at that stage as he and Kenya’s Mike Kiptum Boit continued to switch the lead. But Adola couldn’t maintain the pace and was among the athletes who dropped back over the next couple of kilometers.


A group of seven forged ahead, and six athletes remained together, reaching 35km at 1:44:27.


Yimer still had four others for the company as he hit 40km in 1:59:19 alongside his compatriot Balew Yihunie Derseh, plus Boit and his Kenyan compatriots Edwin Kiptoo and Rhonzas Lokitam Kilimo.


But after doing much of the leading, Boit could only watch as Kilimo, Kiptoo, and Yimer strode ahead.


Timing his kick to perfection, Yimer waited until the final corner to make his move. Glancing over his shoulder, he left Kilimo and Kiptoo behind and punched the air as he crossed the finish line.


He won in 2:06:08, with Kilimo a second behind him and Kiptoo a further second back.


Boit held on for fourth place in 2:06:20, while Derseh was fifth in 2:06:22.


In the women’s race, a nine-strong group running alongside male runners was on a sub-2:20 pace for the opening kilometers, but the tempo eased as the leaders reached 10km in 33:28, led by Kenya’s Celestine Chepchirchir.


Bahrain’s Desi Jisa Mokonin, looking to regain a title she won in 2019, also took turns at the front and led. 15km was reached in 50:25, and 20km was passed in 1:07:29.


The leading contenders remained together as an eight-strong group hit 30km in 1:41:05. Like in the men’s race, a significant move was made around this stage.


Jisa and Wereta were joined by Kenya’s Visiline Jepkesho and Ethiopia’s Bethlehem Afenigus Yemer in a breakaway group, and Wereta looked comfortable as she took her place at the front, with her challengers in single file behind her.


Wereta, Jisa, and Yemer passed the 35km mark together in 1:57:42, with Jepkesho 11 seconds back. Then Wereta attacked. She had built a lead of 23 seconds by 40km and passed in 2:13:54, as she was chased by Jisa (2:14:17), Yemer (2:14:43), and Jepkesho (2:15:01).


Wereta continued to stretch her lead and had an advantage of 47 seconds by the finish, which she crossed in 2:21:32.


Jisa secured the runner-up spot in 2:22:19, while Jepkesho passed Yemer in the closing stages to claim third place—2:22:52 to 2:23:20. Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese was fifth in 2:23:43.


Leading results

1 Fikrte Wereta (ETH) 2:21:32
2 Desi Jisa Mokonin (BRN) 2:22:19
3 Visiline Jepkesho (KEN) 2:22:52
4 Betelihem Afenigus Yemer (ETH) 2:23:20
5 Yebrgual Melese (ETH) 2:23:43

1 Jemal Yimer (ETH) 2:06:08
2 Rhonzas Lokitam Kilimo (KEN) 2:06:09
3 Edwin Kiptoo (KEN) 2:06:10
4 Mike Kiptum Boit (KEN) 2:06:20
5 Balew Yihunie Derseh (ETH) 2:06:22


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