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Ethiopia’s Guye Adola and Gotytom Grebreslase are the surprise winners of the 2021 Berlin Marathon

It was an upset on both the men's and women's sides in the German capital on Sunday morning

Berlin Marathon

On a hot, humid day in the German capital, the 47th Berlin Marathon had two surprise winners in both the men’s and women’s races. Ethiopia’s Guye Adola was victorious over the favourite, Kenenisa Bekele (who finished third) in 2:05:45 in only his fourth marathon, and his fellow Ehtiopian, Gotytom Gebreslase, won the women’s race in her debut marathon in 2:20:09. Canada’s Brent Lakatos finished third in the men’s wheelchair race, just a few weeks after the Tokyo Paralympics.

RELATED: Can Kenenisa Bekele break the world record in Berlin?

Men’s race

All eyes were on Bekele as he attempted to beat Eliud Kipchoge’s 2:01:39 set on the same course in 2018. In an interview before the race, Bekele, who missed Kipchoge’s world record by only two seconds in 2019, told reporters that in 2019, he didn’t realize he was on world-record pace, and that he would not make the same mistake this year. The men’s race started out a hair behind the required pace to beat Kipchoge’s time, but by the 10 km mark, the lead pack was ahead of it by 10 seconds.

The pace continued to pick up, and by the 20-kilometre mark, Bekele was 11 seconds behind the leaders. The front pack went through halfway in a blistering 60:48, the fastest-ever half-marathon split in a marathon and more than 25 seconds ahead of the world-record pace.

The pace began to slow soon after, and by 25 km, the leaders were 17 seconds behind Kipchoge’s record pace. One kilometre later, Bekele caught up with the group and took over the lead, but by 30 km they were 63 seconds off the pace. Three kilometres later, the lead pack appeared to begin to feel the effects of the erratic early-race pacing, and the group began to thin. Bekele and Adola were alone at the front, and it was Adola who took over the lead and began gapping his competitor. To the surprise of even the announcers, Bechel Yegon, who had been far off the lead pack for the majority of the race, came from behind and overtook Bekele just before the 37 km mark. He began reeling in Adola, and with less than five kilometres to go, Adola and Yegon were neck-and-neck.

By 40 km, Adola began to create some distance between himself and Yegon, with Bekele about 37 seconds behind the leader, and it was quickly clear Adola would be the race winner. He crossed the line in 2:05:45, followed by Yegon, also in only his fourth-ever marathon, in 2:06:14. Bekele, who’s planning on running the New York City Marathon in 42 days, finished in third in 2:06:47.

The women’s race

On the women’s side, Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebrekidan led for much of the race, bringing the lead group through the halfway mark in 1:09:19. To everyone’s surprise, Gebreslase took over the lead by the 30-kilometre mark and never let it go. She gradually increased her lead, first by 13 seconds at the 35-kilometre mark, then 31 seconds by kilometre 40. The 26-year-old broke the tape in 2:20:09, more than one minute ahead of Gebrekidan, who finished second in 2:21:23. Helen Tola, also from Ethiopia, rounded out the podium in 2:23:05. (Tola finished fourth in 2019.)

To be the first, this is a great surprise and joy to me,” Gebreslase said in a post-race interview. “But I did come here to win.”

RELATED: Brigid Kosgei runs women’s marathon world record of 2:14:04 (unofficial)

In her first of six marathons over the next 42 days, American Shalane Flanagan finished 17th, in 2:38:32, well inside her goal to finish in less than three hours.

Lakatos takes third in wheelchair race

Only a few weeks after taking home four medals for Canada at the Tokyo Olympics, Lakatos finished third in 1:29:54 behind Daniel Romanchuk of the U.S. in second (1:24:47) and Marcel Hug of Switzerland, who won the race in 1:24:03. Romanchuk is the world record-holder, and Hug has multiple previous victories at Berlin and other world majors, and won the gold medal in the marathon at Tokyo 2020, where Romanchuk took bronze and Lakatos finished fourth.