As far as recurring characters in the ever-expanding Lap Count Cinematic Universe, Yalemzerf Yehualaw is quickly becoming one of the most prominent. Every time she lines up there are fireworks.
Remember when Yehualaw ran a 31:17 10K at the Great Ethiopian Run at the start of the year and the discussion surrounded just how fast that’d be at sea level? Well, since then she set the world record for 10k (29:14) and this weekend in Hamburg delivered the fastest debut in marathon history. Her winning time of 2:17:23 is 93 seconds faster than Paula Radcliffe’s first crack at the distance and if my memory serves me correctly, she ended up improving quite a bit.
There are many ways to respond to disappointment, but I’d argue Yehualaw’s way is the best. Since finishing fourth place at the Ethiopian 10,000m trials in 30:20 — the 29th fastest time ever — Yehualaw hasn’t missed. How’s that for shaking it off? It might help that at 22 years old, there will likely be more Olympics in her future. After all, 2:17:23 is number six on the global, all-time descending order list, and is also the Ethiopian national record.
All of this said, despite her accomplishments, the running world has been slow in giving her adequate recognition. Hopefully, she heads stateside for a race soon, especially as she has been studying English for the last few years. Yalemzerf is regularly putting out heat on her Instagram, but currently has fewer followers than David Ribich, who doesn’t even have the Division II record for 1500m.
And I know it’s such a classic move to complain about race coverage, but this was the most egregious and neglectful act by a TV producer I have ever seen. There are cameras all over the finish-line area: watch this and try not to punch a hole through your wall.
On the men’s side, the race came down to a sprint finish, which, like the first three quarters of a non-blow-out basketball game, makes the preceding 26 miles meaningless. Kenya’s Cyprian Kotut, the 2021 Valencia Marathon champion, held off Uganda’s Stephen Kissa in a final clocking of 2:04:47 to 2:04:48. Whatever Kotut’s coach did in this build up should be copy and pasted in the future, as his training partner, Evans Chebet, also won a reasonably hyped up race in Massachusetts last week.
Kissa’s first time running the distance was good for a Ugandan national record, and fourth-place finisher Victor Kiplangat was also under the mark. (And for what it’s worth, which might not be much, their training partner, Joshua Cheptegei, liked an Instagram post of mine from July this week and I swooned. He was likely doing some research after my 26 minute long love letter to him.)
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Photo courtesy of the NN Running Team.