In the women’s marathon at the track and field World Championships in July 2022, Ethiopian runner Gotytom Gebreslase took the gold medal with a record time of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 11 seconds.
The next day, Ethiopian Tamirat Tola won the men’s marathon with a time of 2:05:36. Tola’s countryman, Mosinet Geremew, took the silver medal, finishing one minute and 8 seconds behind Tola.
The results of the two days’ races were no surprise. East Africans consistently have been among the world’s best marathoners since Ethiopian Abebe Bikila won the men’s race at the 1964 Summer Olympics.
Like Ethiopians, Kenyan runners tend to dominate in marathons throughout the world. According to the BBC, the world’s best runners come from three mountainous districts near the Rift Valley in Africa: Nandi in Kenya and Arsi and Shewa in Ethiopia.
In the 2022 World Championships, Gebreslase stayed close to the leader, Kenyan Judith Jeptum Korir. The Washington Post reported that Korir kept glaring over her shoulder and gesturing to Gebreslase to take her turn in the lead, allowing the two runners to conserve their energy.
When Gebreslase finally moved to the lead, she never gave it back. She finished 9 seconds ahead of Korir. Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, a Kenyan-born runner who represents Israel, earned the bronze medal.
“The Ethiopian runners are very fast,” Korir told the Post. “It’s not easy to … run with them, but I tried my best.”