Women marathoners are on fire, and as if we needed any further evidence, defending champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya ran 2:18:35 at the Istanbul Marathon on Sunday, setting a four-minute personal best and breaking the course record. Chepngetich’s performance tied for the seventh fastest marathon of all time. Margaret Agai of Kenya was second, in 2:25:03, and Fatuma Sado of Ethiopia was third, in 2:31:04.
Chepngetich led from the beginning, passing the halfway mark in 1:08:22, ahead of world record pace.
In the men’s race, Felix Kimutai of Kenya was first, with a time of 2:09:56, also a course record. Abdi Ibrahim Abdo of Bahrain was second, in 2:10:36. Abraham Kiprotich of France was third, in 2:10:54.
Istanbul is the world’s only cross-continental marathon, the city itself straddling Europe and Asia. The course starts on the Asian side of the July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge, formerly known as the Bosphorus Bridge, and finishes on the European side. Runners from Turkey, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Britain, and France and other countries took part in the day’s events, which included an 8K transcontinental fun run, a 10K and a 15K. The marathon welcomed 55 elite runners from various countries.
Following Ruth Jepngetich's 2:18:35 in Istanbul today, here's a stat…
Female sub-2:19 marathoners prior to 2018: 5
Female sub-2:19 marathoners in 2018: 6
And amazingly, the latter list does not include perhaps the best marathoner on the planet in Mary Keitany.
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) November 11, 2018
Chepngetich finished second at the Paris Marathon earlier this year. As Jonathan Gault of Let’s Run pointed out, until this year, only five women in the world had ever run a sub-2:19 marathon. This year alone, Jepngetich is the sixth woman to run sub-2:19 (but, astonishingly, Mary Keitany is not one of them). For the first time, the average of the 10 fastest women’s marathon times so far in 2018 is under 2:19.
The Vodafone Istanbul Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label race.