Ethiopia celebrates as Yimer and Wereta conquer Seoul Marathon


Ethiopian Jemal Yimer emerged victorious after a nail-biting sprint finish in the men’s division, while his compatriot Fikrte Wereta dominated the women’s race, marking an Ethiopian sweep at the Seoul Marathon.

Both athletes celebrated their first victories at a World Athletics Platinum Label road race.

Yimer, a contender who had previously secured fourth place twice at the world half marathon, advanced his marathon career with a personal best of 2:06:08, shaving nearly three minutes off his previous record. Similarly, Wereta set a new personal record with a time of 2:21:32.

The men’s race was characterized by a tight-knit group up until the 30km mark, where Yimer strategically positioned himself within a leading group of seven runners.

 Until this pivotal moment, the 27-year-old athlete had conserved his energy within the larger pack, reaching the 10km milestone in 29:43 and the 20km point in 59:54.

Ethiopian Jemal Yimer celebrates after a past race. PHOTO: World Athletics, X

The pace was consistent, with Yimer and 12 other competitors hitting the 25km mark together in 1:14:37, and the lead group reaching 30km in 1:29:35.

Guye Adola, another Ethiopian runner and the 2021 Berlin Marathon winner, appeared to be in control for a significant portion of the race, alternating the lead with Kenya’s Mike Kiptum Boit.

However, Adola began to fall behind over the subsequent kilometers, along with a few other runners. A select group of seven runners broke away from the pack, narrowing down to six by the time they reached the 35km mark in 1:44:27.

As the race progressed, Yimer found himself in the company of four competitors as they passed the 40km mark. Alongside him were Balew Yihunie Derseh, also from Ethiopia, and Kenyans Boit, Edwin Kiptoo, and Rhonzas Lokitam Kilimo.

Despite Boit’s earlier efforts to lead, he could only observe as Kilimo, Kiptoo, and Yimer pulled ahead.

Executing a perfectly timed sprint, Yimer surged ahead after the final turn. Casting a quick glance over his shoulder, he decisively left Kilimo and Kiptoo trailing as he celebrated his victory at the finish line with a time of 2:06:08.

Kilimo secured second place a mere second behind, with Kiptoo finishing another second later. Boit managed to secure fourth place with a time of 2:06:20, and Derseh rounded out the top five with a time of 2:06:22.

Fikrte Wereta celebrates after winning the Seoul Marathon. PHOTO: Adidas, X

Fikrte Wereta dominates women’s race

The women’s competition unfolded similarly, with a group of nine athletes setting a brisk pace from the start. However, as the race progressed, the leading group reached the 10km mark in 33:28, with Kenya’s Celestine Chepchirchir setting the pace.

Desi Jisa Mokonin from Bahrain, aiming to reclaim her 2019 title, also took her turn leading the pack, reaching the 15km point in 50:25 and the 20km mark in 1:07:29.

As the race reached the 30km mark, the main contenders were part of an eight-woman group, mirroring the men’s race’s strategic movements around this critical stage.

Jisa and Wereta, along with Kenya’s Visiline Jepkesho and Ethiopia’s Betelihem Afenigus Yemer, broke away from the rest. Wereta then took the lead, with her competitors trailing in single file behind her.

The leading trio of Wereta, Jisa, and Yemer passed the 35km mark together, with Jepkesho lagging 11 seconds behind. Wereta then accelerated, creating a 23-second gap by the 40km mark, with Jisa and Yemer following.

Wereta continued to extend her lead, ultimately finishing 47 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor, crossing the finish line in 2:21:32.

Jisa finished second in 2:22:19, while Jepkesho overtook Yemer in the final stages to secure third place with a time of 2:22:52, leaving Yemer in fourth at 2:23:22. Yebrgual Melese, another Ethiopian, finished fifth in 2:23:43.

This marathon was not just a race but a showcase of determination, strategy, and the sheer will to prevail.

From the initial grouping of athletes to the strategic breakaways and the final sprint to victory, every kilometer told a story of ambition, camaraderie, and the relentless pursuit of excellence.

As Yimer and Wereta returned to Ethiopia, they carried not only their triumphs but also the pride of a nation known for its exceptional long-distance runners.

Their victories in Seoul added another illustrious chapter to Ethiopia’s rich marathon legacy, inspiring the next generation of runners to dream big and run further.

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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