In the first major road race with sizable participation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Berlin Marathon saw Ethiopian runners triumph in both the men’s and women’s race.
At the 47th Berlin Marathon, held on September 26, 2021, Guye Adola of Ethiopia won the men’s race in two hours, five minutes and 45 seconds, way. He finished ahead of race favorite Kenenisa Bekele but the timing was way behind the world record of 2:01:39 set by Kenya’s Eluid Kipchoge at the 2018 Berlin Marathon.
In the women’s race, Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia won her debut marathon in 2:20:09 hours. It was an Ethiopian sweep on the podium for women. Hiwot Gebrekidan finished second (2:21:23) and Helen Tola third (2:23:05).
Two-time winner of the Berlin Marathon previously, Bekele finished third among men with a timing of 2:06:47. Kenya’s Bethwel Yegon finished second with a timing of 2:06:14. The near total sweep of podium positions by Ethiopian runners in Berlin follows a rather disappointing performance by the country in the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics.
American marathon runner Shalane Flanagan, who had announced plans to come out of her retirement and attempt six World Marathon Majors in 42 days, finished Sunday’s Berlin Marathon in 2:38:32, securing the 17th position among women.
The 2021 Berlin Marathon was the first race with sizable participation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports said nearly 24,800 runners from 139 countries participated in the race.
Over the next 42 days, five Elite Platinum Label marathons are scheduled to be held. The upcoming races are London Marathon (October 2, 2021), Chicago Marathon (October 10), Boston Marathon (October 11), Amsterdam Marathon (October 17) and New York City Marathon (November 7).
(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)