Written by Brett Davies

The action kicked off today on the streets of Tokyo with the women’s marathon. It was an epic contest with some surprises along the way.

After some deliberation and consultation with IAAF President Seb Coe, the IOC moved the marathon start back to 06.00 to mitigate the effects of the Tokyo heat which has caused problems for many athletes.

The opening 10km was a very tentative yet steady 36.16 and most of the field were intact. Chepngetich & Jepchirchir (KEN) gradually increased the pace and by 25km (1,28.51) the top dozen or so runners had begun to separate themselves. The Australian women were back in the field, though Sinead Diver had begun to work her way through the field from about 25th earlier in the race.Despite the high temperatures and 79% humidity, Jepchirchir very gradually increased the pressure.and the pack was down to 10. Kosgei, Dereje and Johannes were still amongst it. Kosgei ran a sub-17 minute 5km split between 30km and 35 km and the lead group was down to 5.

 

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It was here that the relatively unknown American Molly Seidel – with a personal best more than 10 minutes slower than Kosgei – made a move. The 27 year-old, running just her third marathon, was never remotely considered a medal threat, yet here she was, throwing down a serious challenge to two of the greatest runners of all time. By 40km the Kenyans established a 30 gap on the courageous Notre Dame alumnus and Jepchirchir then began her drive for home. Jepchirchir prevailed in 2.27.20, with Kosgei in 2.27.36 and Seidel in 3rd (2.27.36).

The amazing Sinead Diver ran 2.31.14 for 10th. It was an incredible run and was inspirational for anyone at any level. At 44, she made the first top 10 finish by an Australian woman since Lisa Ondieki in 1988. At the same age, our greatest marathoner, Rob de Castella, had already been retired 8 years.

 

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The two other Aussie athletes Ellie Pashley (23rd) and Lisa Weightman (26th) were also impressive performers. On a day when 15 women failed to finish, just making it to the line was an achievement.

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