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Natasha Wodak smashes Canadian record at Berlin Marathon

Wodak ran 2:23:12, taking more than a minute and a half off Malindi Elmore's Canadian record, while Tigist Assefa smashed the course record and became the third-fastest female marathoner in history, with a mind-boggling 2:15:38

natasha wodak

Natasha Wodak of Vancouver has broken Malindi Elmore’s Canadian marathon record with a 2:23:12 performance at the Berlin Marathon. This is a minute and 38 seconds faster than Elmore’s 2:24:50, set a Houston in 2020. Wodak finished 12th in a very competitive and surprising women’s race, managing negative splits, finishing the first 21.1 km in 72:20 and the second half in under 72:00.

Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia, 28, not only smashed the women’s course record of 2:18:11, but became the third-fastest female marathoner ever, running 2:15:38–a 19-minute personal best. This was only her second marathon. Brigid Kosgei of Kenya holds the world record at 2:14:04; Paula Radcliffe of the UK held it previously, at 2:15:25. Assefa is the only woman to have run both a sub-2-minute 800m time as well as a sub 2:20:00 marathon time.

Assefa came into the race with a PB of 2:34 from the Riyadh Marathon in March; it’s fair to say that no one, possibly herself least of all, expected her to win today. Assefa had several 10K and half-marathon wins this year, including in Göteborg, Sweden and Herzogenaurach, Germany (where she ran to her half-marathon PB of 1:07:28), but her result in Berlin was surprising, to say the least.

Rosemary Wanjiru of Kenya finished second, in 2:18:00–an incredible time for a debut marathon. Tigist Abayechew of Ethiopia was just behind her in third place, with 2:18:03.

keira d'amato
Keira D’Amato at the 2022 World Championships. Photo: Kevin Morris

U.S. record holder Keira D’Amato had the fastest PB going in and made it known she was going after her American record (set just this year), but with only nine weeks after her eighth-place finish at the World Athletics Championship in Eugene, Ore. to recover and train, she was unable to contend in Berlin today, and had to settle for sixth place (and a still-excellent time of 2:21:48).

Brittany Moran of Toronto had an excellent race, finishing as the second Canadian woman, in 26th position, with a time of 2:35:42–a personal best (if you don’t count her 2:33 from the California International Marathon in 2021, which is a point-to-point course).

The women’s race at today’s Berlin Marathon took a backseat to Eliud Kipchoge’s world-record-busting effort; the great man took 30 seconds off his 2018 world record (set on this same course), but he had no competition; from a competitive point of view, the women’s race was the more interesting one.

Wodak, a veteran of the Canadian road running and track scene (and a former Canadian record holder, in the 10,000m) has had a smooth rise to the marathon; she set her previous personal best at The Marathon Project in Arizona in 2020 (2:26:19) and went on to finish 13th at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. She had a disappointing performance at Boston earlier this year, but reportedly felt confident during this build going into Berlin–and that was borne out with her fantastic result today. Wodak’s new Canadian record is also the second fastest world women’s master’s 40+ time.

Wodak also took a few seconds off Elmore’s 25 km and 30 km records, with splits of 1:25:42 and 1:42:37, respectively.