Ethiopians Guye Adola and Gotytom Gebreslase win 2021 Berlin Marathon...


This is Justin Lagat's piece on the 2021 BMW Berlin Marathon. He notes, that, unlike most of the global audience, Justin knew who Bethwel Yegon was, as he had trained with the group before! Thanks again to Justin, who provided some well place tweets as I was trying to find Berlin broadcast that I could watch as NBCN was not working. Big difference in covering remotely and with reliable terrestrial TV.

With the first 5km being crossed in 14:22, in the men's race, it promised to be another world record-breaking day at the 2021 Berlin Marathon as Kenenisa Bekele led five other runners in the world record pace. The 10km point was crossed at 28:47 and the predicted finish time at that point was 15 seconds inside the world record.

However, at around 18km Bekele, who many expected to break Eliud Kipchoge's world record of 2:01.39, began to gradually fall behind the leading pack. By the half marathon point which was crossed in 1:00.48, he was twelve seconds behind Lencho Desfaye, Guye Adola, Abraham Kipyatich and Philemon Kacheran.

At 23km, the leaders began to suffer the consequences of their fast splits in the first half of the race and their pace that had been ranging from 2:45/km to 2:55/km began to move up to an average pace of above 3:00/km. Bekele took advantage of the slowing pace to close the gap again and he was in the lead at 30km.

Adola made a move at around the 35km point leaving Kacheran and Bekele, who had been giving him company in a leading pack of three, to follow in a single file.

Then, coming seemingly out of nowhere, Bethwel Yegon who had been almost one and half minutes behind the leaders at the half marathon point began to overtake Kacheran and Bekele and soon was running shoulder to shoulder with Adola at the front.

It was not just a surprise that he appeared to have been coming out of nowhere in the race, but his name was not even featuring anywhere in the pre-race conversations as he apparently was not such a big star to raise any interest from anyone. To me who knew him in person as he would often join our training group in Eldoret, I had to call other members in the training group who were watching the race elsewhere to make sure that my eyes were not playing some tricks on me, and they confirmed that it was indeed the "Brown" we knew who was in the verge of winning the Berlin Marathon.

At 40km, Adola made another determined effort to break away from the lesser-known Yegon and became successful. The gap would continue to increase until he crossed the finish line in 2:05.45, 29 seconds ahead of Yegon. Bekele came in third place in 2:06.47.

In the women's race, Gotytom Gebreslase and Hiwot Gebrekidan battled each other at the front until around 35 kilometers when Gebreslase finally began to break away. The latter won the race in 2:20.09 as the clearly tired Gebrekidan came second in 2:21.23. It took a while before Helen Tola came in to complete the podium in 2:23.05.

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