|Image Source: AI Imagine|
In an incredible athletic feat, Ethiopian long-distance runner Tigist Assefa shattered the women’s marathon world record at the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, September 24th, slashing over 2 minutes off the previous record with her lightning-fast time of 2 hours, 11 minutes and 53 seconds.
The 27-year-old Assefa, who set the course record in Berlin last year with a personal best time, started off at a blistering pace from the very beginning of the 26.2 mile race. Gradually, she pulled away from the rest of the women’s field, establishing a massive lead as she chased history along Berlin’s flat, fast course through the city’s streets.
By the halfway point, Assefa had clocked an astonishing 1 hour, 6 minutes and 20 seconds, keeping up a pace that had her on track to decimate the old world record of 2 hours, 14 minutes and 4 seconds set by Kenyan runner Brigid Kosgei in 2019. Showing no signs of slowing down, Assefa maintained her unrelenting speed through the second half of the race, smashing through the 30km and 35km marks at world record pace.
At the 37km mark, Assefa was running just 3 seconds per kilometer slower than Eliud Kipchoge’s men’s world record pace at the same stage — a testament to her jaw-dropping performance. With power and determination, the Ethiopian phenom cruised through the final miles to stop the clock at the unbelievable official time of 2:11:53, carving her name into the record books with the greatest women’s marathon ever run.
Assefa’s magnificent world record feat overshadowed Eliud Kipchoge’s record 5th Berlin Marathon win on the men’s side. The legendary 38-year-old Kenyan, who set the men’s world record of 2:01:39 in Berlin last year, settled for a more modest 2:02:42 victory this time, failing to challenge his own historic mark.
But all eyes were on Assefa, who only started competing in marathons in April 2021. Her previously unthinkable sub-2:12 world record demonstrates her meteoric rise to become one of the all-time greats of women’s distance running. Assefa’s incredible performance in Berlin cements her status as the world’s fastest female marathoner right now and raises expectations for what she could achieve at the 2024 Paris Olympics next year.
Assefa’s Journey to World Record Immortality
The Berlin Marathon has become renowned for its propitious flat layout and spectator support conducive to fast times. Assefa leveraged these ideal course conditions perfectly on Sunday to carve over 150 seconds off the old world record.
But Assefa’s historic feat was years in the making since she burst onto the international long-distance scene with steeplechase wins at the World U20 Championships in 2014 and African Championships in 2016. She switched to road racing in 2021, quickly notching victories in Spain, Italy and Germany.
Last year, Assefa announced herself as a rising marathon star by blazing to a 2:17:23 course record win in Berlin on her debut over the 26.2-mile distance. Now just a year later, the Ethiopian legend has firmly established herself as the world’s best female marathoner with her jaw-dropping world record run.
Assefa credited her intensive training at high altitude in Ethiopia and sticking to her plan of attacking the old record from the very first kilometer as keys to her historic performance. Her achievement demonstrates that with the right preparation and race strategy, the limits of women’s distance running can be pushed into thrilling new territory.
A Triumphant Day For Ethiopian Running
Assefa’s world record headlines a banner day for Ethiopian athletics in Berlin, with compatriot Andamlak Belihu also claiming victory in the men’s race in 2:05:53. While Kipchoge grabbed the headlines, Belihu’s win demonstrated the emerging talent rising through the ranks in Ethiopia’s celebrated distance running culture.
In fact, Ethiopian runners claimed 5 of the top 8 spots in the women’s race behind Assefa, showcasing the depth of fast female talent being developed in the East African nation. After losing the men’s world record to Kenya last year, Assefa’s scintillating run restores Ethiopian supremacy by breaking one of Kenya’s most prestigious marathon marks.
Running fans and experts are already looking ahead to how much faster Assefa could go at her next marathon. Some believe she has the talent to one day break the hallowed 2-hour mark for the women’s marathon, though it would require even more perfect conditions and a super-human performance.
For now, Assefa is reveling in her ground-breaking world record, which lowers the ceiling of what women can achieve in marathon running. After an unforgettable day in Berlin, the possibilities seem limitless for this Ethiopian running phenom.