2019 world marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich (© Getty Images)
A first midnight marathon at a World Championships saw Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich earn her first major gold on the floodlit Corniche tonight, clocking 2:32:43 in testing heat and humidity.
It was also the first gold medal to be won at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.
The 25-year-old became the third fastest marathon runner ever when winning the Dubai Marathon in January in 2:17:08, but on this occasion the challenge was about endurance rather than speed as the race began in temperatures officially estimated at between 30-32.7C, and humidity of 73%.
Bahrain's defending champion Rose Chelimo took silver on the seven-lap circuit in 2:33:46, 63 seconds back, and bronze went to Namibia's Commonwealth champion Helalia Johannes in 2:34:15.
At the age of 39 – she turns 40 on November 15 – Kenya’s 2011 and 2013 world champion, and 2017 silver medallist Edna Kiplagat missed out on another medal by one agonising place having tracked the lead for the bulk of the race.
Her time in a race where the top 10 finishers qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Games was 2:35:36.
Volha Mazuronak of Belarus, the European champion who survived a massive nosebleed to win in Berlin, hung on to fourth place after a long solo run, clocking 2:36:21.
USA's 41-year-old Roberta Groner claimed sixth place in 2:38:44, one place ahead of Japan's Mizuki Tanimoto.
North Korea's Ji Hyang Kim earned eighth place in 2:41:24, Lyndsay Tessier of Canada claimed ninth place in 2:42:03, and 10th place went to Un Ok Jo of North Korea in 2:42:23.
On an unpredictable occasion which saw 28 of the 68 starters fail to finish, the biggest surprise was the fact that all three Ethiopian runners dropped out before the race got past halfway.
Ethiopia was represented by the runners who stood third and fourth on the entry list behind Chepngetich – Ruti Aga, who has run 2:20:40 this year and has a best of 2:18:34, and Roza Dereje, who has run 2:20:51 this year and has a best of 2:19:17.
And the third Ethiopian selected, Shure Demise, has run 2:21:05 this season.
Israel’s sole entrant was also a runner to be noted – 30-year-old Lonah Salpeter, who won the European 10,000m title in Berlin last summer and has a best of 2:19:46.
She ran gallantly in fifth place for much of the race, closing a minute’s gap on the lead group, only to see them accelerate away. She pulled out between the 31st and 32nd kilometres.
Chelimo’s silver was a surprise given her relatively poor record this year.
Amidst good numbers of spectators lining the barriers, Chepngetich made an early effort to break away but was hauled back into the main group.
Any thought that she might have misjudged her effort was dismissed, however, as she made a second, decisive break as she entered the last of the six scheduled laps and was never headed.
“I am feeling good,” she said. “I am very happy and I thank God for my win.”
Asked about the conditions, she responded: “It was not bad for me!”
And on the subject of whether she could win at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, she added: “I will try my best.”
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF