Athletics News

Berlin Marathon Women — Assefa Sub-2:12!

Kilometer Splits For Tigist Assefa’s 2:11:53 WR

Tigist Assefa blew through the 2:14, 13 and 12 barriers to an astounding WR with a 65:33 second half. (KEVIN MORRIS)

BERLIN, GERMANY, September 24 — Stunning herself, her coach and the marathon community, Tigist Assefa ran an astonishing 2:11:53 World Record to win the Berlin Marathon. The 26-year-old Ethiopian pared a whopping 2:11 off Brigid Koskei’s 2:14:04 record run at the 2019 Chicago Marathon.

Assefa surged away from Kenyan Sheila Kiprotich at 15K and flew away from the field and into the history books, becoming the first woman to break 2:14, 2:13, and 2:12, with a 66:20/65:33 negative-split effort.

“I wanted to break the marathon World Record” Assefa said, “but I couldn’t imagine that it would be a time under 2:12. I am very happy to be Ethiopia’s first woman to achieve the marathon World Record. This victory means to me that hard training and good preparation proves its worth.”

She added, “For Ethiopia as a country it will be a big boost for our sports men and women with Olympic hopes.”

Coach Gemedu Dedefo, who oversees manager Gianni Demadonna’s expansive stable of Ethiopia’s top marathoners including world champions Amane Beriso and Tamirat Tola, said, “Assefa’s training was ahead of last year and I expected a special performance, maybe 2:13, but not 2:11.”

Beamonesque maybe, but surely Paula-esque as British standard setter Radcliffe’s second WR, 2:15:25 in ’03, advanced the standard 1:53, with Kosgei also scoring a sizable 1:21 improvement in her big race 4 years ago.

Assefa’s record romp also adds further luster to Berlin’s revered course that has now produced 15 World Records. Race director Mark Milde’s team has had a very productive 12 months, staging back-to-back exhilarating record runs with Assefa following Eliud Kipchoge’s dramatic 2:01:09 WR last year. Notably, this is the first time in Berlin’s illustrious history that it is home to both men’s and women’s records.

Assefa’ path into marathon history is rather unique. Her first steps were as part of Woldemeskel Kostre’s program to develop Junior middle distance runners. As a Junior (U20), Assefa ran 54.05 for 400 and 1:59:24 in the 800. She raced in the Rio Olympics heats (2:00.21) before a severe Achilles injury closed out her promising track career

Unable to run in spikes, Assefa started training for the roads in 2018 and after taking a family leave and sitting out the pandemic, returned to form in ’22 , winning the…

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