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Three American women finish inside the top eight on a day of upsets in the marathon

Leslie Sexton was the top finisher for Team Canada, 13th overall, only 18 seconds off her personal best

Photo by: Kevin Morris

The women’s marathon at the 2022 World Athletics Championship was unique, to say the least, as Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebreslase won gold in a world championship record time of 2:18:11. The early leaders and favourites dropped out after pushing a faster pace, while those who patiently waited were rewarded. After a rough showing for the U.S. men’s team in yesterday’s marathon, the women stepped up and delivered, placing three in the top eight, led by Sara Hall, who was fifth in 2:22:10.

Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia wins the women’s marathon in a championship record time of 2:18:11. Photo: Kevin Morris

Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya, the reigning world champion, took the pace out hot at the start. The lead group of nine or 10 runners came through 5K in 16:10 and continued to roll on through. Just after starting the second lap, Chepnegetich started gesturing for other athletes to lead. After several athletes turned down her suggestion, she stepped off the course before the halfway point and abandoned her race, apparently with stomach issues. 

At this point, the other race favourite, Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia, took over for the next 8 km before abandoning the race due to a side stitch. From 30K onward, it was a battle between Gebreslase and Kenya’s Judith Jeptum Korir, who won this year’s Paris Marathon in 2:19:48. Gebreslase made her move on Korir with two kilometres to go, and did not look back. Korir finished second, only nine seconds behind Gebreslase, while Lonah Salpeter of Israel was third in 2:20 to finally get her hands on a championship medal. 

Lonah Salpeter (left) of Israel won her first world championship medal. Photo: Kevin Morris

“I am extremely emotional with my performance today,” Salpeter told us. “Although it’s third, this medal means the world to me.” Salpeter was in medal contention at the Tokyo Olympics before falling apart late in the marathon. 

The crowd was cheering loudly for the American contingent of Hall, Emma Bates and Keira D’Amato each time they came through for the next loop. Hall looked comfortable and ran to a season’s best of 2:22:08, while Bates ran a personal best time of 2:23:18 to finish seventh. Despite only being selected for the team two weeks ago due to Molly Seidel being injured, D’Amato finished eighth in a time of 2:23:34 in her first major championship. 

Team USA’s Sara Hall, Emma Bates and Keira D’Amato working together in the chase group. Photo: Kevin Morris

Canada’s Leslie Sexton finishes in the top 15

The 35-year-old marathoner, racing her first world championships, ran a spectacular race to finish 13th overall in 2:28:52, only 18 seconds off her PB (from the 2021 Philadelphia Marathon–2:28:34). She went out conservatively with the third chase pack and managed to pick runners off over the final 15K. 

“I couldn’t be happier with my performance today,” says Sexton. “I know my potential and knew top 20 was possible if I ran well.”

Canada’s Kinsey Middleton and Elissa Legault both finished inside the top 30. Middleton worked with Sexton in the early stages of the race, but fell back after the third chase group broke apart at 26 km. This world championship marathon was a quick turnaround for both athletes, who both ran personal best times seven weeks ago at the Ottawa Marathon. 

Kinsey Middleton (left) and Leslie Sexton (middle) posing with Keira D’Amato of the U.S. (right) post-race. Photo: Marley Dickinson

Middleton finished three minutes off her personal best in 2:32:56 for 26th, while Legault finished 27th in 2:37:35. All three women were representing Canada for the first time at Worlds. 

The 2022 World Athletics Championships are taking place from July 15-25 from Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. All the action will be brought to you by Canadian Running and Asics Canada. Follow us on Twitter on Instagram for all things Team Canada and up-to-date exclusive news and content.