Making her World Marathon Majors debut, European 10,000m champion Lonah Chemtai Salpeter from Israel shattered both her national record and the course record in the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday (1).
Chemtai Salpeter began her day with a lifetime best of 2:19:46 set in the Prague Marathon last May but she sliced more than two minutes from the record, jubilantly breaking the tape in the grounds of the Imperial Palace in 2:17:45 to move to second on the European all-time list and sixth on the world all-time list.
This was Chemtai Salpeter’s fourth marathon in the space of ten months but it was by far her most accomplished. This performance will also fortify her medal prospects at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - although the marathon and race walks will be taking place in Sapporo where the conditions will be more benign for the endurance athletes.
Chemtai Salpeter passed through halfway in 69:16 with eight athletes still in close contention. The 31-year-old was already on schedule to break the 2:19-barrier but she accelerated markedly in the last twelve kilometres.
A 15:54 five kilometre split from 30-35 kilometres dropped all of the challengers - except for Ethiopia’s Birhane Dibaba - but the 2018 winner soon dropped back as Chemtai Salpeter kept the pressure on with a 16:10 split from 35-40 kilometres.
Chemtai Salpeter’s winning margin extended out to the best part of a minute as she crossed the finish-line in 2:17:45, covering the second half of the marathon in 68:29. Dibaba came home a clear second in 2:18:35 with teammate Sutume Asefa Kebede third in 2:20:30.
There was also a significant performance in the men’s race as Belgium’s Bashir Abdi also moved to second on the European all-time list with 2:04:49 to finish second behind Ethiopia’s reigning champion Birhanu Legese in 2:04:15.
This was Abdi’s third Belgian record in the space of twelve months: 2:07:03 in the London Marathon last April, 2:06:14 in the Chicago Marathon last October and 2:04:49 in the Tokyo Marathon.
Abdi also moves ahead of training partner Mo Farah on the European all-time list with Kaan Kigen Ozbilen only faster among European athletes with 2:04:16 from the Valencia Marathon last December.