ROAD NEWS - Doha, Berlin, Sparthlon

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Cajsa writes:

Hold on to your carbon soles roadies, this week’s tarmac pounding report comes courtesy of the writer otherwise known as the Trail journo, in other words bare with me as I try to fill the vaporflys of PB spread sheet shero Bland! 

It’s been a rough week for our sport. I don’t think many of us were left surprised by the sanctions against Alberto Salazar, the rumours and allegations around the coach’s Nike Oregon Project have been circling for a long time but for the news of his guilty verdict to hit just when male marathon runners are pushing world records and during an already controversial World Championship in athletics is frankly put, depressing. It is a bit like when the Brexit propaganda appears during The Great British Bakeoff ad break and the gloomy reality sprinkles mould all over your imaginary chocolate ganache. 

Anyway let’s bury our heads in the sand box for a moment and get on with rounding up last weekend’s long distance performances on the road. 


(Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

(Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

It was a damp day in the city more renowned for endurance dancing than long distance running last weekend but with little wind the conditions still proved to be great for a marathon rave. The ladies race stayed very exciting until the very end where we got to see Ethiopia’s Ashete Bekere beat Mare Dibaba with a kick on the last hundred meters into the finish and take her first victory in a World Major. Bekere‘s  time of 2:20:14 was a new personal best by 1 minute. Sally Chepyego and Helen Tola who were in the leading group with Bekere and Dibaba for most of the race took third and forth and Sarah Hall stormed herself to 5th place with an incredible 4 minute PB. 

Melat Kejeta who was born in Ethiopia but been competing for Germany for over a decade now had a great debut on the marathon distance and finished 6th behind Hall in 2:23:57.

1. Ashete Bekere (ETH), 02:20:14 (New PB)
2. Mare Dibaba (ETH), 02:20:21
3. Sally Chepyego (KEN), 02:21:06 (New PB)
4. Helen Tola (ETH), 02:21:36
5. Sarah Hall (USA), 02:22:16 (New PB)
6. Melatonin Kejeta (GER), 2:23:57
7. Sally Kipyego (USA), 02:25:10 (New PB)
8. Haftamnesh Tesfaye (ETH), 06:26:50
9. Martina Strahl (GER), 02:31:24
10. Nina Lauwaert (BEL), 02:31:25
11. Andrea Deelstra (NED), 02:31:29

In Team GB news Tracy Barlow had a tough day on the straßes of Berlin and pulled out of the race with less than a quarter left to go. That left the title of fastest Brit to Alison Lavender who finished in 2:41:18, a THIRTEEN minute PB, even a trail tortoise like me understands the significance of that! Second and third fastest brits; Fiona Brian (2:42:51) and Tracy Millmore (2:47:10) also shaved a good chunk off their previous personal bests. 

It was not only PB’s that were broken in Berlin, 71 year old Jeannie Rice improved on her world age-group record for the 70-74 bracket with a time of 3:24:49, 3 minutes faster than her time from Chicago last year. 

Head out of the sand now everyone as we move back to the touchy side of the news with the results from;


(Photo: Mustafa Abumunes / AFP)

(Photo: Mustafa Abumunes / AFP)

In theory a marathon with a starting field consisting solely of elites should not lead to more than a handful of injury related DNF’s so when the drop out rate at last weeks World Champs rose to 41% it became obvious that the hot and humid conditions (even with a midnight start) in Doha made for a shambolic event. As other runners (literally) hit the curb Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich emerged as the champion of the night and claimed the gold medal in a time of 2:32:43, the slowest ever winning time at a World Championship and 15 minutes behind Ruth’s own PB set in Dubai earlier in the year. The 2017 champion Rose Chelimo was second fastest survivor in 2:33:46 and Helalia Johannes gave Namibia their first female medal at a world championship by taking third. Two time world champ Edna Kiplagat had to make do with fourth. 

1. Ruth Chepngetich (KEN), 2:32:42
2. Rose Chelimo (BRN), 2:33:46
3. Helalia Johannes (NAM), 2:34:15
4. Edna Kiplagat (KEN), 2:35:36
5. Volha Mazuronak (BLR), 2:36:21
6. Roberta Groner (USA), 2:38:44
7. Mizuno Tanimoto (JPN), 2:39:09
8. Ji Hyang Kim (PRK), 2:41:24
9. Lyndsay Tessier (CAN), 2:42:03
10. Un Okjo (PRK), 2:42:33

SPARTATHLON, 153 miles / 1200 m 

Founded by John Foden, a British student of Ancient Greek History, in 1983 the Spartathlon follows the footsteps of Pheidippides who in 490 BC ran from Athens to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. According to the legend he arrived in Sparta the day after leaving Athens and that has set the cut off’s for this annual race widely considered to be one of the most difficult ultras in the world. 

It is not only the tight cut off’s forcing the runners to keep a quick pace from the start that is making this a hard nut to crack, the average temperature for Spartathlon is in the mid thirties making a well kept nutrition and hydration plan key.

After last years freak weather where runners were faced with rain and freezing temperatures at night thanks to a storm hitting Greece it was all back to the normal sauna conditions for 2019 with temperatures reaching 39 degrees (Celsius) during the heat of mid-day. Zsuzsanna Marat from Hungary has ran Spartathlon for four consecutive years and seen the course in all weather varieties. Last weekend she proved that she’s not just at her best in raging storms but can run equally fast in soaring heat as she repeated her 2018 victory with a two hour win ahead of Russian runner and Sparta-Rookie Irina Masanova. Third woman to kiss the feet of Pheidippides was Natasha Robnik from Slovenia who improved on her time from when she last ran this race in 2015 with twelve minutes. In forth place was Sarah Sawyer from Great Britain who we had the pleasure of catching up with after her storming race. For more insight to what Spartathlon is all about we recommend a read of our Q&A with Sarah.

1. Zsuzsanna Marat (HUN), 27:16:26
2. Irina Masanova (RUS), 28:18:16
3. Natasa Robnik (SLO), 29:14:54
4. Sarah Sawyer (GBR), 30:39:01
5. Milena Grabska-Grzegorczyk (POL), 30:41:26


Chi-town was enjoying the same down pour as Berlin for their half marathon day and the champion of the women’s race Jane Bareikis said after the race that; “Taking first was great payback for starting off with muddy feet”. Bareikis repeated her 2018 victory with a winning time of 1:16:38, three minutes faster than Emma Grimes who placed second. Sophie Steward took third with 1:20:15.

Kellyn Taylor was hoping to test her legs ahead of New York Marathon but had to pull out due to stomach problems. 

1. Jane Bareikis 1:16:38
2. Emma Grimes 1:19:39
3. Sophie Seward 1:20:15
4. Meg Murphy 1:22:07
5. Erica Van Heerden 1:22:43


After Kellyn Taylor had to pull out of the Chi-half last weekend, shes got a last minute addition to the start line at the USATF 10 mile championships in Minnesoata on the 6th and so has Sarah Hall! ( no you’re not imagining it, she did just run a massive marathon PB last weekend). Nell Rojas, Olympic hopeful and marathon newbie will also be giving her legs a check-over.

Whilst this coming weekend is a bit quieter on the international race circuit UK is hitting peak autumn marathon season with LOCH NESS, CHESTER, LEICESTER and BOURNEMOUTH MARATHON. 

It’s not all quiet on the continent though as both BRUSSELS and KIEV are hosting marathons this Sunday. 

I will be favouring the tracker app for Bournemouth as that is where round up’s own GILL BLAND will be testing her autumn pins! GO FLY GILLEROO! 

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