Berlin Assefa destroys the women's marathon world record with a reduction of more than two minutes

Nobody knew Ethiopian Tigist Assefa until a year ago

Berlin Assefa destroys the women's marathon world record with a reduction of more than two minutes

Nobody knew Ethiopian Tigist Assefa until a year ago. As a middle distance runner, a specialist in 800 meters, she barely became international, present at an indoor World Cup and at the Rio 2016 Games, but she was always eliminated in the first rounds. That's why when she injured her Achilles tendon in 2017 and decided to try out on asphalt, she did not receive offers. Berlin, New York, Tokyo, London, Chicago, Boston... the best marathons ignored her existence and she debuted in the 42 kilometers in the spring of 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a hot, hard, remote test. She finished seventh with a time (2:34:01) consistent with her gray track record. But suddenly, a few months later, boom! At 29 years old, Assefa's career and life changed.

In the Berlin marathon in 2022, he won with the third best time in history (2:15:37), became a benchmark - and image of Adidas - and announced a splendid future. This Sunday on the same stage, again at the Berlin Marathon, he confirmed it in a big way. In a dizzying Assefa race she broke any estimate, any calculation for history: she not only broke the women's world distance record, she shattered it as if that were simple. The previous record, from 2019, by the Kenyan Brigid Kosgei was two hours and 14 minutes (2:14:04) and the Ethiopian left it at two hours and 11 minutes (2:11:53), an unprecedented reduction. Eliud Kipchoge's men's world record (2:01:09) is just over 10 minutes away.

Assefa's feat can be explained through technological evolution, not in vain did she wear very light Adidas with a carbon fiber plate - and very expensive, with a price of 500 euros -, but many other runners used similar inventions. Her success can only be understood thanks to the adaptation to distance of an athlete born for it. Due to her strange progression, it is only known that she trains near Addis Ababa, the capital of her country, under the guidance of Gemedu Dedefo and in a group that includes Tamirat Tola, Olympic marathon medalist and world champion in the World Cup. from Eugene in 2022. But it is clear that his genetics, his technique and his work are perfect for the marathon.

"It is not easy for a middle distance runner to jump into the marathon, but surely she was not a middle distance runner," her agent, the Italian Gianni Demadonna, explained to Runner's World magazine last year. The representative also admitted that Assefa was very out of shape - eight kilos over his weight - when he agreed to run the difficult Riyadh marathon and that he had to force all his contacts to make room for him in last year's Berlin marathon. . "Her coach, Gemedu, had told me: 'I've never seen a woman run like Tigist.' And that's why I took a chance," said Demadonna, whose work has now multiplied. Last Saturday Assefa opened profiles on Instagram and TikTok and will most likely now attract sponsors of all kinds.

"I didn't expect to run so fast, but it's the result of so much hard work," the marathon runner commented this Sunday after forcing all her rivals to commit suicide in Berlin. Until kilometer 15, up to six rivals followed her below the world record pace, the Kenyan Sheila Chepkirui and her compatriots Workenesh Edesa, Senbere Teferi, Helen Bekele, Zeneiba Yimer and Woldu Etageng, but afterward the majority paid for it. Chepkirui finished second (02:17:49) without being able to beat her best time and the rest of her had to let the Tanzanian Magdalena Shauri (02:18:41) pass between abandonments and fainting. Assefa's pace was too much.

Now the Ethiopian's next goal, as she said, will be to win Olympic gold at the Paris 2024 Games, something that her country has not achieved since 2012. Strange as it may seem, she must first qualify for the event in a demanding Ethiopian team. with other candidates such as Amane Shankule and Gotytom Gebreslase, current world champions and runners-up, Yalemzerf Yehualaw and Letesenbet Gidey. Then, it is assumed, Assefa will return to Berlin to improve himself again. After what she has experienced, and with her progression, now the question with Assefa is where she will leave the marathon world record. Can she get women under the 2:10 barrier?

In the men's event, Eliud Kipchoge also tried the impossible, but in this case it was impossible. Like last year, the best marathon runner in history tried without success to take human beings to the unknown dimension that awaits them in less than two hours. Again close to the hour mark in the half marathon (1:00:22 this time), he again couldn't keep up the pace in the second half. At 38 years old, in his fifth victory in Berlin, his mark (2:02:42) was only a disappointment because of who he is: it was the eighth best time in history, but the fifth best of his career. he.