Report17 Mar 2024

Yimer and Wereta secure Ethiopian double in Seoul


Ethiopia's Jemal Yimer (© Getty Images)

Jemal Yimer prevailed after a sprint finish in the men’s race, while Fikrte Wereta claimed a clear women’s race win to secure an Ethiopian double at the Seoul Marathon on Sunday (17).

It was a first World Athletics Platinum Label road race win for both athletes, two-time world half marathon fourth-place finisher Yimer continuing his marathon journey with an almost three-minute PB of 2:06:08 and Wereta also running a lifetime best of 2:21:32.

The men’s race saw a big group remain together until after 30km, when Yimer formed part of a breakaway group of seven. The 27-year-old had been happy to sit back in the pack up to that point, passing 10km in 29:43 and 20km in 59:54.

The pace remained consistent as he reached 25km in 1:14:37 and 12 athletes were still running together at the 30km mark, hit by the leaders in 1:29:35.

Yimer’s compatriot Guye Adola, the 2021 Berlin Marathon champion, had looked in control to that stage, as he and Kenya’s Mike Kiptum Boit continued to switch the lead. But Adola couldn’t maintain the pace and he was among the athletes to drop back over the next couple of kilometres.

A group of seven forged ahead and six athletes remained together as 35km was reached in 1:44:27.

Yimer still had four others for company as he hit 40km in 1:59:19 alongside his compatriot Balew Yihunie Derseh plus Boit and his Kenyan compatriots Edwin Kiptoo and Rhonzas Lokitam Kilimo.

But after doing much of the leading, Boit could only watch as Kilimo, Kiptoo and Yimer strode ahead.

Timing his kick to perfection, Yimer waited until the final corner to make his move. Glancing over his shoulder, he left Kilimo and Kiptoo behind and punched the air as he crossed the finish line.

He won in 2:06:08, with Kilimo a second behind him and Kiptoo a further second back.

Boit held on for fourth place in 2:06:20, while Derseh was fifth in 2:06:22.

In the women’s race, a nine-strong group running alongside male runners was on sub-2:20 pace for the opening kilometres but the tempo eased as the leaders reached 10km in 33:28, led by Kenya’s Celestine Chepchirchir.

Bahrain’s Desi Jisa Mokonin, looking to regain a title that she won in 2019, also took turns at the front and led as 15km was reached in 50:25 and 20km was passed in 1:07:29.

The main contenders remained together as an eight-strong group hit 30km in 1:41:05 and like in the men’s race, it was at around this stage that a significant move was made.

Jisa and Wereta were joined by Kenya’s Visiline Jepkesho and Ethiopia’s Betelihem Afenigus Yemer in a breakaway group and Wereta looked comfortable as she took her place at the front, with her challengers in single file behind her.

Wereta, Jisa and Yemer passed the 35km mark together in 1:57:42, with Jepkesho 11 seconds back at that point, and then Wereta attacked. She had built a lead of 23 seconds by 40km, passed in 2:13:54, as she was chased by Jisa (2:14:17), Yemer (2:14:43) and Jepkesho (2:15:01).

Wereta continued to stretch her lead and had an advantage of 47 seconds by the finish, which she crossed in 2:21:32. 

Jisa secured the runner up spot in 2:22:19, while Jepkesho passed Yemer in the closing stages to claim third place – 2:22:52 to 2:23:22. Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese was fifth in 2:23:43.

Leading results

1 Fikrte Wereta (ETH) 2:21:32
2 Desi Jisa Mokonin (BRN) 2:22:19
3 Visiline Jepkesho (KEN) 2:22:52
4 Betelihem Afenigus Yemer (ETH) 2:23:22
5 Yebrgual Melese (ETH) 2:23:43

1 Jemal Yimer (ETH) 2:06:08
2 Rhonzas Lokitam Kilimo (KEN) 2:06:09
3 Edwin Kiptoo (KEN) 2:06:10
4 Mike Kiptum Boit (KEN) 2:06:20
5 Balew Yihunie Derseh (ETH) 2:06:22

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