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.

11708Ethiopia GELANA Tiki2:23:07 OR 
22330Kenya JEPTOO Priscah2:23:12   
32884Russian Federation PETROVA ARKHIPOVA Tatyana2:23:29 PB 
42331Kenya KEITANY Mary Jepkosgei2:23:56   
53161Ukraine GAMERA-SHMYRKO Tetyana2:24:32 NR 
61399People's Republic of China ZHU Xiaolin2:24:48   
72719Portugal AUGUSTO Jessica2:25:11   
82163Italy STRANEO Valeria2:25:27   
92879Russian Federation MAYOROVA Albina2:25:38   
103288United States of America FLANAGAN Shalane2:25:51   
113292United States of America GOUCHER Kara2:26:07   
122537Namibia JOHANNES Helalia2:26:09 NR 
132721Portugal BARROS Marisa2:26:13   
141949Germany MIKITENKO Irina2:26:44   
152615New Zealand SMITH Kimberley2:26:59   
162255Japan KIZAKI Ryoko2:27:16   
171083Australia WEIGHTMAN Lisa Jane2:27:32 PB 
183003Sweden ANDERSSON Isabellah2:27:36   
192259Japan OZAKI Yoshimi2:27:43   
202334Kenya KIPLAGAT Edna Ngeringwony2:27:52   
212725Portugal FELIX Ana Dulce2:28:12   
221391People's Republic of China WANG Xueqin2:28:21   
231705Ethiopia DIBABA Mare2:28:48   
242557Netherlands KIBET Hilda2:28:52   
252631Peru MELCHOR Ines2:28:54 NR 
261640Spain AGUILAR Alessandra2:29:19   
272432Lithuania DRAZDAUSKAITE Rasa2:29:29 PB 
282436Lithuania LOBACEVSKE Diana2:29:32 PB 
292156Italy INCERTI Anna2:29:38   
302150Italy CONSOLE Rosaria2:30:09   
311131Burundi NUKURI Diane2:30:13 NR 
321937Germany HAHN Susanne2:30:22   
331200Belarus STARAVOITAVA Nastassia2:30:25   
341184Belarus KOUHAN Sviatlana2:30:26   
352792South Africa KALMER Rene2:30:51   
362686Poland JARZYNSKA Karolina2:30:57   
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382538Namibia NAIGAMBO Beata2:31:16   
391082Australia TRENGOVE Jessica2:31:17   
401549Denmark DRASKAU-PETERSSON Jessica2:31:43 PB 
412362Republic of Korea CHUNG Yunhee2:31:58   
421712Ethiopia MERGIA Aselefech2:32:03   
432632Peru TEJEDA Gladys2:32:07 PB 
441865Great Britain MURRAY Freya2:32:14   
452773Romania SIMON Lidia2:32:46 SB 
462513Mexico ROMERO Marisol2:33:08   
471236Brazil DA SILVA Adriana Aparecida2:33:15   
483155Ukraine BURKOVSKA Olena2:33:26   
492738Democratic People's Republic  of Korea KIM Kum-Ok2:33:30   
502511Mexico PEREZ Karina2:33:30   
511422Colombia ABRIL Erika2:33:33 NR 
521460Croatia STUBLIC Lisa Christina2:34:03   
532978Switzerland NEUENSCHWANDER Maja2:34:50   
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552630Peru ARIZAPANA Wilma2:35:09   
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581390People's Republic of China WANG Jiali2:35:46   
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602347Kyrgyzstan ANDREEVA Iuliia2:36:01   
611647Spain ESPESO Maria Elena2:36:12   
621257Bahrain DULA Lishan2:36:20   
633085Turkey DOGAN Bahar2:36:35   
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652487Republic of Moldova CERCHES Natalia2:37:13 PB 
662101Ireland BYRNE Linda2:37:13   
671542Czech Republic SEKYROVA Ivana2:37:14   
682106Ireland HUTCHINSON Ava2:37:17   
691340Chile ROMERO Natalia2:37:47   
701488Cuba BELMONTE Dailin2:38:08 PB 
712958Serbia SUBOTIC Ana2:38:22   
723087Turkey HAYDAR Sultan2:38:26   
732476Morocco RAIF Samira2:38:31 SB 
742739Democratic People's Republic  of Korea KIM Mi-Gyong2:38:33   
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762366Republic of Korea LIM Kyung-Hee2:39:03   
772526Montenegro PERUNOVIC Sladana2:39:07 NR 
781178Belarus DUBOVSKAYA Olga2:39:12   
792261Japan SHIGETOMO Risa2:40:06   
803068Tunisia BEN AMOR Amira2:40:13 NR 
812793South Africa MAXWELL Tanith2:40:27   
821027Argentina PERALTA Maria2:40:50   
831578Ecuador CHACHA Rosa2:40:57 SB 
842062Indonesia TRIYANINGSIH2:41:15   
852059Hungary RAKONCZAI Beata2:41:20   
862765Romania DITA Constantina2:41:34   
871736Finland PUOTINIEMI Leena2:42:01   
882934Slovenia JEREB Zana2:42:50   
893094Turkey KIRAZ Ummu2:43:07   
902420Lesotho TJOKA Mamorallo2:43:15 SB 
911451Costa Rica TRANA Gabriela2:43:17   
922051Hungary ERDELYI Zsofia2:44:45   
933120Uganda SUUTO Jane2:44:46   
943353Venezuela PINEDA Yolimar2:45:16   
952055Hungary KALOVICS Aniko2:45:55   
962365Republic of Korea KIM Seongeun2:46:38   
971661Spain VEIGA Vanessa2:46:53   
982402Latvia LINA Dace2:47:47   
992992Slovakia BERESOVA Katarina2:48:11   
1001085Australia WILLIS Benita2:49:38   
1012906Rwanda MUKASAKINDI Claudette2:51:07   
1022516Mongolia LUVSANLUNDEG Otgonbayar2:52:15   
1031674Estonia TALTS Evelin2:54:15   
1041992Greece KEFALA Konstadina3:01:18   
1052535Myanmar SAN Ni Lar3:04:27   
1063027Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste NAPOLEAO Juventina3:05:07 PB 
1072107Ireland JENNINGS Caitriona3:22:11   
 1424Colombia CABALLERO YolandaDNF   
 3282United States of America DAVILA DesireeDNF   
 3159Ukraine FILONYUK TetyanaDNF   
 2955Serbia JEVTIC OliveraDNF   
 1154Bosnia and Herzegovina KIMANI LuciaDNF   
 2558Netherlands KIPLAGAT LornahDNF   
 2471Morocco LABANI SoumiyaDNF   
 2895Russian Federation SHOBUKHOVA LiliyaDNF   
 3369Zimbabwe TAVENGWA SharonDNF   
 2795South Africa VAN BLERK IrvetteDNF   
 1880Great Britain YAMAUCHI MaraDNF