World Athletics Championships: Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich wins women’s marathon gold as many pull out in extreme heat
London, Sep 28, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich overcame extreme heat and humidity to win the world championship midnight marathon on Friday, in a grueling test of survival that saw nearly a third of the 70 starters fail to reach the finish line.
Chepngetich, who has clocked the third fastest marathon of all-time, did not come close to matching that in the punishing conditions. Her winning time of two hours, 32 minutes, 43 seconds was the slowest ever to win the world championships.
Chepngetich, 23, took the first gold of the championships seconds with athletes attempting to complete six 7km loops of the Corniche in the Qatar capital.
Bahrain’s defending champion Ruth Chelimo, 39, was second in 2:33.46 and Commonwealth champion Helalia Johannes of Namibia, also 39, took bronze in 2:34.15.
Purdue, the third fastest British female marathon runner in history, withdrew after the start of the third loop. Compatriot Tish Jones pulled out before the race with a leg injury.
Chepngetich was among a small group that included Chelimo, two-time champion Edna Kiplagat, Kenya’s Visiline Chepkesho and Johannes that broke clear from the rest as early as the fifth kilometre.
With the first gold medal of the championships up for grabs the women stepped up to the start line ready to tackle a steamy 26.2 miles (42.195 km) floodlit course along the waterfront of Doha’s famous Corniche promenade.
The race scheduled to begin one minute before midnight on Friday and finish in the early hours of Saturday saw the field head out right on the stroke of 12.
The midnight start tempered the sting of a searing sun but with that temperature sitting at 32.7C and the humidity index at 73% the conditions were right on the limit of what the IAAF said were allowable