Tigst Assefa Sets New Women’s Marathon World Record in Germany with an Impressive Performance
The athletics world is in shock after Tigst Assefa, an Ethiopian runner, obliterated the women’s marathon world record by more than two minutes in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday night (AEST).
Assefa elevated women’s marathon running to another level as she stopped the clock at 2:11:53, chopping two minutes and 11 seconds from the previous world record. Her remarkable performance overshadowed the time of Kenyan icon Eliud Kipchoge, who finished with 2:02:42, over a minute outside the men’s marathon world record.
In 2003, Paula Radcliffe redefined what was thought possible by setting a time of 2:15:25 at the London Marathon. Brigid Kosgei then took a substantial chunk off Radcliffe’s record in 2019 with a time of 2:14:04 at the Chicago Marathon. However, neither of these runs had the same transformative impact on women’s marathon running as Assefa’s record-breaking performance.
From a time perspective, Assefa’s run is equivalent to reducing the men’s marathon world record from 2:01:09 to 1:58:58. This highlights the closing gap between men and women in marathon running, with only 24 Australian men in history having run faster than Assefa’s time of 2:11:53.
Debate has already begun around the influence of “super shoes” on distance running. Radcliffe’s record was set several years prior to the release of the first super shoe, the Nike Vaporfly 4%. Since then, records have continuously tumbled, with Assefa benefitting from Adidas’ newest super shoe, the Adizero Adios Pro Eva 1. These shoes, featuring a carbon-fiber plate and a thick foam layer, propel runners down the road and contribute to their exceptional performances.
Assefa’s dominance in the women’s field in Berlin is evident, finishing five minutes and 56 seconds ahead of Kenya’s Sheila Chepkirui. Despite having only contested two marathons before Sunday, Assefa’s background as a former 800-meter runner did not hinder her record-breaking performance.
“I think this result is a result of the hard work I’ve put in over the past year,” Assefa said through a translator after the Berlin Marathon. “I never expected to break the record with such a result.”
After crossing the finish line, Assefa celebrated by performing the sign of the cross, dropping to her knees, and kissing the road. She stretched out her arms, looking towards the heavens, before grabbing the Ethiopian flag and greeting the amazed spectators that lined the streets of Berlin.