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Amy Cragg makes history at World Championship marathon; Rose Chelimo earns gold in crazy dramatic 42.2K battle

That was one of the best marathons you'll ever watch

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The women’s marathon at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London spiked hearts rates of running fans across the globe. This was a fantastic marathon if ever there was one.

The world’s pros in the 42.2K distance showed up to deliver a race to be remembered. While the event saw many runners take the spotlight, Rose Chelimo of Bahrain came to London to win it and she proved herself yet again this year as she added a gold medal to her collection. She ran 2:27:11 to break the tape but her win was by no means predictable until the final seconds. Second to her was Edna Kiplagat of Kenya who ran 2:27:18 to beat American Amy Cragg by a fraction of a second. The showdown between the Bahraini and Kenyan athlete may have brought on a case of déjà vu: the two went head-to-head on the streets of Boston in April. That time, it was Kiplagat who came out on top. 

This was a race that could have been anyone’s – as was made obvious for anyone watching. Where some marathons see a thin lead pack and an obvious champion early on, that was not the case for this World Championship race. The first and second women gave each other quite a race.

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Amy Cragg’s historical run

One of the most spectacular story lines from this World Championship marathon though, is the third-place run by Cragg. It wasn’t until the final stretch to the finish that Cragg closed in to get herself into a podium position. In fact, she stole up on Kiplagat very nearly earning herself the silver. Most importantly though, this is the first time that our American neighbours have seen an athlete get to the podium in this event since Marianne Dickerson in 1983. Cragg was born the following year. In other words, her third-place world championship run is a major milestone for U.S. athletics and one that will be added to the athletics history books. 

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First half sees bold front-running

While the final kilometres were rather dramatic as the leaders went back and forth, the first 30K saw some bold moves in the front. The race started with some confident front-running by 23-year-old Catarina Ribeiro. The Portuguese athlete opened up a gap on the front runners basically right out of the gate. While it may have seemed an over-confident move, she was still hitting paces which she has done before. 

That number one spot was taken over by British runner Alyson Dixon who ran on her own with a 30-second gap over the chasing women for most of the race. It was a thrilling thing to see for spectators cheering her on as she ran on home soil. Many wondered how long the main pack would let her stay so far out front. It was only at around the 32K mark where they closed the gap, narrowing it from 30 seconds to 14 before finally closing in on Dixon. It was a heck of a lead to focus on for three quarters of the marathon. 

How the Canadians fared

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Two Canadians donned the Team Canada uniform on the streets of London today. Tarah Korir and Dayna Pidhoresky were the runners to watch in the women’s marathon. Korir was the first of the pair to cross the finish line. She got herself into 51st place running a time of 2:44:30. Pidhoresky placed 70th and ran 2:56:08. The two ran close early on with Korir in front at around 30K which she went through in 1:54:51. 

Korir is from the small town of St. Clements, Ont. just outside of Kitchener-Waterloo. She lives and trains in Kenya with her husband Wesley Korir – the champion of the 2012 Boston Marathon. She is relatively new to the marathon having made her debut in the distance in Toronto at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2015. Pidhoresky hails from Vancouver and made her marathon debut in early 2016. The athletes’ PBs are 2:35:46 and 2:36:08 respectively. 

Ontario athlete Rachel Hannah was missing from the start line today. The runner was named to Team Canada and intended to race but had to go home from the Athletics Canada training camp earlier this week due to injury. 

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