Oromia-Ethiopia’s Tikkii Galaanaa Sets Olympic Record in Women’s Marathon

Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia celebrates as she crosses the finish line to win the gold medal in the Women’s Marathon at The Mall on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 5, 2012 in London, England. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Aug 5, 2012, LONDON (New York Times) — Surging into the lead in the last mile and a half and running the second half of the race more than three minutes faster than the first, Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia won the women’s Olympic marathon on Sunday in 2 hours 23 minutes 7 seconds, a record for the Summer Games.

Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya took second in 2:23:12 on a cool, rainy day on a loop course that passed many of London’s iconic landmarks. Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova of Russia made a late charge and finished third in a personal best of 2:23:29. She had finished fourth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2008 Beijing Games.

The prerace favorite, Mary Keitany of Kenya, who won the London Marathon in April, could not hold the pace at the end and finished fourth in 2:23:56. (Jeptoo said Keitany had cramps in her back.) Surprisingly, a Kenyan woman still has not won an Olympic marathon since the event was first held in 1984.

A pack of Olympic marathon runners on the Mall, early in Sunday’s race.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s East African rival, Ethiopia, has now twice won the Olympic marathon. Fatuma Roba took first at the 1996 Atlanta Games. At the London Games, Ethiopia has won both women’s distance events, with Tirunesh Dibaba taking gold in the 10,000.

Gelana, 24, had won the Rotterdam Marathon earlier this year in 2:18:58, an Ethiopian record. On Sunday, she bested the Olympic record of 2:23:14, set by Naoko Takahashi of Japan at the 2000 Sydney Games. Gelana ran the first half Sunday in 1:13:13 and the second half in 1:09:54 — despite her falling in a collision at a water stop about midway through the race.

It was a frustrating day for the three American entrants. Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher went to the lead early but faded. Flanagan finished 10th in 2:25:51, while Goucher was 11th in 2:26:07. Desiree Davila, who had been battling a hip injury, dropped out after 2.2 miles.

Sunday’s 26.2 mile race was run on a course with one loop of 2.2 miles and three loops of eight miles. A heavy downpour dropped the temperature to 57 degrees, a nearly ideal temperature, but steady rain continued as the race began. The water began to puddle in places, and the runners splashed as they struck the ground.

Flanagan and Goucher went to the front early as the race began slowly with opening miles of 5:23 and 5:53 on the sinuous course. Keitany tucked in behind them, having learned her lesson about reckless running last fall at the New York City Marathon, when she went out at world-record pace only to fade to third.

At 5 kilometers, or 3.1 miles, Flanagan and Goucher also remained at the front of a large pack of runners with a time of 17:20. They held their position at 10 kilometers, reaching the 6.2-mile mark in 34:46, with Valeria Straneo of Italy and Zhu Xiaolin of China, the fourth-place finisher at the 2008 Beijing Games, also at the head of the pack.

At 15 kilometers, or 9.3 miles, Yoshimi Ozaki of Japan took her turn at the front as the lead pack arrived in 52:10 with the race on a metronomic 2:26 pace. The downpour slowed to a drizzle, the flags hanging slack along the course with little or no wind.

The lead pack reached the halfway point in 1:13:13, with 23 runners within three seconds of the lead. A major casualty came soon after as one of the favorites, Liliya Shobukhova of Russia, dropped out. Her victory at the 2011 Chicago Marathon in 2:18:20 made her the second-fastest woman ever behind Paula Radcliffe of Britain (2:15:25). But Shobukhova missed a couple of spring races in the United States because of a hamstring injury. And perhaps she never recovered.

Kenyan and Ethiopian runners, including newly crowned Olympic champion Tiki Gelana.

Radcliffe did not enter the Olympic marathon, the strain of competition through the years having left her feet brittle and unable to replicate her greatest performances.

As could be expected, Keitany and her Kenyan teammates moved to the front for the second half of the race. Keitany is the world half-marathon record holder in 65:50. She won the London Marathon in April in 2:18:37. At her best, no one would be able to outrun her. But she was not at her best Sunday.

Just beyond 25 kilometers, or 15 miles, the lead pack had winnowed itself to six runners — Keitany, Edna Kiplagat and Jeptoo from Kenya and Gelana, Aselefech Mergia and Mare Dibaba from Ethiopia.

Flanagan was in seventh place, four seconds back. Goucher was in 12th place, six seconds back. But Flanagan and Zhu from China regained contact, if only briefly.

At 26 kilometers, one of the leaders, perhaps Keitany, stepped on water and stumbled momentarily before regaining her stride. The sun now peeked out.

At 30 kilometers, or 18.6 miles, the quickening race seemed — incorrectly — to have whittled itself to the three Kenyans and Gelana and Dibaba from Ethiopia to decide among the medals. Flanagan had dropped 11 seconds off the pace into seventh place. Goucher was 30 seconds back in 12th place.

At 32 kilometers, Dibaba had dropped back. The lead pack was now four. But Petrova Arkhipova of Russia had been stalking the East Africans. She had been in 10th place at 25 kilometers and sixth place, nine seconds back, at 30 kilometers. Now she seemed to come out of nowhere to catch the leaders. As if running a 1,500-race, she moved up to third as Kiplagat, the 2011 world marathon champion, dropped to fourth.

Kiplagat, though, rejoined the lead pack, which expanded to five — three Kenyans, an Ethiopian and a Russian. As the race neared two hours, Kiplagat again dropped back.

By 35 kilometers, or 21.7 miles, Petrova Arkhipova had moved into a thin lead in 1:59:29. The race was down to herself, Keitany and Jeptoo of Kenya and Gelana of Ethiopia. It remained that way through 40 kilometers or 24.8 miles, in 2:16:20. Petrova Arkhipova dropped back twice, only to recover and yo-yo herself among the leaders.

A half-mile later, Keitany surprisingly fell off the pace. Jeptoo, her teammate, had brought her water minutes earlier, but Keitany now appeared drained. Petrova Arkhipova also fell away a third time, losing her form. In the 25th mile, Gelana surged, opening a gap on Jeptoo as the rain began again. Ethiopia had won another distance running gold medal.

The New York Times

Gelana’s Biography

Erba Tiki Gelana (born 22 October 1987, in Bokoji, Oromia Region) is an Oromian long-distance runner who competes in marathon races. Her personal best of 2:18:58 hours is the Ethiopian national record for the event. She won the 2011 Amsterdam Marathon and the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon. She won the Gold Medal at the 2012 London Olympics with a time of 2:23:07, a new Olympic record.

A cousin of 2000 Olympic marathon champion Gezahegne Abera, Tiki began competing in road races in Ethiopia and came fourth at the 2004 Great Ethiopian Run. She went to Catalonia in Spain in 2006 and made her debut over the half marathon distance, including wins in Mataró and Terrassa. She won the San Silvestre Barcelonesa 10K race at the end of the year. She travelled to Japan in 2007 and won the 10K at the Sanyo Road Race – her time of 31:54 minutes made her the third fastest Ethiopian that year. She won the 2008 Women First 5K in Addis Ababa in March, then came fourth at the high-profile World 10K Bangalore in May. She debuted on the European track and field circuit that summer and set a 5000 metres best of 15:17.74 minutes at the Internationales Stadionfest and a 10,000 metres best of 31:27.80 minutes at the Ostrava Golden Spike.

In late 2008, she took sixth place at the Delhi Half Marathon with a time of 1:10:22 hours, but she was two minutes slower at the 2009 RAK Half Marathon, finishing 16th, but managed second place behind Abebu Gelan at the Virginia Beach Half Marathon in her American debut. Her marathon debut followed in October at the Dublin Marathon and in a close finish she took third place on the podium. In 2010 she came fourth at both the Los Angeles Marathon and the Dublin Marathon, although she improved her best to 2:29:53 hours.

The 2011 Amsterdam Marathon marked a breakthrough for Tiki as she won the race in a time of 2:22:08 hours – almost eight minutes faster than her previous best and an improvement upon Gete Wami’s nine-year-old course record. At the end of that year she returned to Ethiopia, where she came runner-up at the Great Ethiopian Run and third at the Ethiopian Clubs Cross Country Championships. She improved her personal best at the Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon in February 2012, going unchallenged to win the race in 1:08:48 hours.

She broke the Ethiopian record at the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon, completing a solo run of 2:18:58 hours to win the race almost five minutes ahead of runner-up Valeria Straneo. This made her the fourth fastest woman ever over the distance

On 5 August 2012, she won the Gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics Marathon with an Olympic record time of 2:23:07.

Rk Bib Athlete Mark      
1 1708 Ethiopia GELANA Tiki 2:23:07   OR  
2 2330 Kenya JEPTOO Priscah 2:23:12      
3 2884 Russian Federation PETROVA ARKHIPOVA Tatyana 2:23:29   PB  
4 2331 Kenya KEITANY Mary Jepkosgei 2:23:56      
5 3161 Ukraine GAMERA-SHMYRKO Tetyana 2:24:32   NR  
6 1399 People's Republic of China ZHU Xiaolin 2:24:48      
7 2719 Portugal AUGUSTO Jessica 2:25:11      
8 2163 Italy STRANEO Valeria 2:25:27      
9 2879 Russian Federation MAYOROVA Albina 2:25:38      
10 3288 United States of America FLANAGAN Shalane 2:25:51      
11 3292 United States of America GOUCHER Kara 2:26:07      
12 2537 Namibia JOHANNES Helalia 2:26:09   NR  
13 2721 Portugal BARROS Marisa 2:26:13      
14 1949 Germany MIKITENKO Irina 2:26:44      
15 2615 New Zealand SMITH Kimberley 2:26:59      
16 2255 Japan KIZAKI Ryoko 2:27:16      
17 1083 Australia WEIGHTMAN Lisa Jane 2:27:32   PB  
18 3003 Sweden ANDERSSON Isabellah 2:27:36      
19 2259 Japan OZAKI Yoshimi 2:27:43      
20 2334 Kenya KIPLAGAT Edna Ngeringwony 2:27:52      
21 2725 Portugal FELIX Ana Dulce 2:28:12      
22 1391 People's Republic of China WANG Xueqin 2:28:21      
23 1705 Ethiopia DIBABA Mare 2:28:48      
24 2557 Netherlands KIBET Hilda 2:28:52      
25 2631 Peru MELCHOR Ines 2:28:54   NR  
26 1640 Spain AGUILAR Alessandra 2:29:19      
27 2432 Lithuania DRAZDAUSKAITE Rasa 2:29:29   PB  
28 2436 Lithuania LOBACEVSKE Diana 2:29:32   PB  
29 2156 Italy INCERTI Anna 2:29:38      
30 2150 Italy CONSOLE Rosaria 2:30:09      
31 1131 Burundi NUKURI Diane 2:30:13   NR  
32 1937 Germany HAHN Susanne 2:30:22      
33 1200 Belarus STARAVOITAVA Nastassia 2:30:25      
34 1184 Belarus KOUHAN Sviatlana 2:30:26      
35 2792 South Africa KALMER Rene 2:30:51      
36 2686 Poland JARZYNSKA Karolina 2:30:57      
37 1010 Algeria AIT SALEM Souad 2:31:15      
38 2538 Namibia NAIGAMBO Beata 2:31:16      
39 1082 Australia TRENGOVE Jessica 2:31:17      
40 1549 Denmark DRASKAU-PETERSSON Jessica 2:31:43   PB  
41 2362 Republic of Korea CHUNG Yunhee 2:31:58      
42 1712 Ethiopia MERGIA Aselefech 2:32:03      
43 2632 Peru TEJEDA Gladys 2:32:07   PB  
44 1865 Great Britain MURRAY Freya 2:32:14      
45 2773 Romania SIMON Lidia 2:32:46   SB  
46 2513 Mexico ROMERO Marisol 2:33:08      
47 1236 Brazil DA SILVA Adriana Aparecida 2:33:15      
48 3155 Ukraine BURKOVSKA Olena 2:33:26      
49 2738 Democratic People's Republic  of Korea KIM Kum-Ok 2:33:30      
50 2511 Mexico PEREZ Karina 2:33:30      
51 1422 Colombia ABRIL Erika 2:33:33   NR  
52 1460 Croatia STUBLIC Lisa Christina 2:34:03      
53 2978 Switzerland NEUENSCHWANDER Maja 2:34:50      
54 1092 Austria MAYR Andrea 2:34:51      
55 2630 Peru ARIZAPANA Wilma 2:35:09      
56 2737 Democratic People's Republic  of Korea JON Kyong-Hui 2:35:17      
57 1857 Great Britain HALLISSEY Claire 2:35:39      
58 1390 People's Republic of China WANG Jiali 2:35:46      
59 1605 Eritrea MEHARI Rehaset 2:35:49      
60 2347 Kyrgyzstan ANDREEVA Iuliia 2:36:01      
61 1647 Spain ESPESO Maria Elena 2:36:12      
62 1257 Bahrain DULA Lishan 2:36:20      
63 3085 Turkey DOGAN Bahar 2:36:35      
64 1339 Chile OLIVERA Erika 2:36:41   SB  
65 2487 Republic of Moldova CERCHES Natalia 2:37:13   PB  
66 2101 Ireland BYRNE Linda 2:37:13      
67 1542 Czech Republic SEKYROVA Ivana 2:37:14      
68 2106 Ireland HUTCHINSON Ava 2:37:17      
69 1340 Chile ROMERO Natalia 2:37:47      
70 1488 Cuba BELMONTE Dailin 2:38:08   PB  
71 2958 Serbia SUBOTIC Ana 2:38:22      
72 3087 Turkey HAYDAR Sultan 2:38:26      
73 2476 Morocco RAIF Samira 2:38:31   SB  
74 2739 Democratic People's Republic  of Korea KIM Mi-Gyong 2:38:33      
75 2435 Lithuania KERGYTE Remalda 2:39:01      
76 2366 Republic of Korea LIM Kyung-Hee 2:39:03      
77 2526 Montenegro PERUNOVIC Sladana 2:39:07   NR  
78 1178 Belarus DUBOVSKAYA Olga 2:39:12      
79 2261 Japan SHIGETOMO Risa 2:40:06      
80 3068 Tunisia BEN AMOR Amira 2:40:13   NR  
81 2793 South Africa MAXWELL Tanith 2:40:27      
82 1027 Argentina PERALTA Maria 2:40:50      
83 1578 Ecuador CHACHA Rosa 2:40:57   SB  
84 2062 Indonesia TRIYANINGSIH 2:41:15      
85 2059 Hungary RAKONCZAI Beata 2:41:20      
86 2765 Romania DITA Constantina 2:41:34      
87 1736 Finland PUOTINIEMI Leena 2:42:01      
88 2934 Slovenia JEREB Zana 2:42:50      
89 3094 Turkey KIRAZ Ummu 2:43:07      
90 2420 Lesotho TJOKA Mamorallo 2:43:15   SB  
91 1451 Costa Rica TRANA Gabriela 2:43:17      
92 2051 Hungary ERDELYI Zsofia 2:44:45      
93 3120 Uganda SUUTO Jane 2:44:46      
94 3353 Venezuela PINEDA Yolimar 2:45:16      
95 2055 Hungary KALOVICS Aniko 2:45:55      
96 2365 Republic of Korea KIM Seongeun 2:46:38      
97 1661 Spain VEIGA Vanessa 2:46:53      
98 2402 Latvia LINA Dace 2:47:47      
99 2992 Slovakia BERESOVA Katarina 2:48:11      
100 1085 Australia WILLIS Benita 2:49:38      
101 2906 Rwanda MUKASAKINDI Claudette 2:51:07      
102 2516 Mongolia LUVSANLUNDEG Otgonbayar 2:52:15      
103 1674 Estonia TALTS Evelin 2:54:15      
104 1992 Greece KEFALA Konstadina 3:01:18      
105 2535 Myanmar SAN Ni Lar 3:04:27      
106 3027 Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste NAPOLEAO Juventina 3:05:07   PB  
107 2107 Ireland JENNINGS Caitriona 3:22:11      
  1424 Colombia CABALLERO Yolanda DNF      
  3282 United States of America DAVILA Desiree DNF      
  3159 Ukraine FILONYUK Tetyana DNF      
  2955 Serbia JEVTIC Olivera DNF      
  1154 Bosnia and Herzegovina KIMANI Lucia DNF      
  2558 Netherlands KIPLAGAT Lornah DNF      
  2471 Morocco LABANI Soumiya DNF      
  2895 Russian Federation SHOBUKHOVA Liliya DNF      
  3369 Zimbabwe TAVENGWA Sharon DNF      
  2795 South Africa VAN BLERK Irvette DNF      
  1880 Great Britain YAMAUCHI Mara DNF