Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Bai Xue Leads Chinese Red Army In 2009 Marathon World Championships In Berlin
20-year-old Bai Xue won the gold medal and led a dominating Chinese performance at the 2009 World Marathon Championships in Berlin as the Chinese women took three of the top five spots. Race recap and quotes below.
Just three minutes later, the lead pack was down to four: Yulamanova, Bai Xue of China (only 20 years old, 2:23:27 for 2nd at 2008 Chinese Champs), Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia (2nd in Paris in 2:25:02 in her marathon debut, 2nd at 2007 World Half Marathon Champs), and Yoshimi Ozaki of Japan (2008 Tokyo Marathon Champ in 2:23:30), as Yulamanova kept pushing. Just before 35k and 2 hours into the race, Yulamanova, who had been doing all the pushing, began to show signs of trouble as the ever-increasing pace (the 5k from 30 to 35k was 16:31, the fastest of the race, and actually the fastest 5k split ever recorded in a world championship marathon) did her in. She slowed through a water stop and then it was clear it was more than a missed bottle as she was clutching her side. The lead pack at 35k was three: Mergia of Ethiopia, Ozaki of Japan, and Bai of China. The medals were far from locked up, as besides Yulamanova, just 20 seconds back was the Chinese pair Zhou Chunxiu (2-time London Champion) and Zhu Xiaolin, and 45 seconds back in 7th was Kara Goucher.
The Battle For The Medals
Bai had saved her best running for last. She covered the final 2km at 16:30, the fastest pace of the day. Her Chinese teammates had stayed strong once falling off the leaders and would finish fourth and fifth as China dominated the team competition.
After the race, Bai was pleased, but realistic about where it puts her in the ranks of women's marathoners. She said, "I was a little bit lucky because many of the top runners were not here today. I think compared to the top runners, I still have a lot to catch up on." Mergia was happy to get bronze: "For my second marathon this is a very good result. For now I am very happy."
Kara Goucher held on for 10th in 2:27:48 and, in a very impressive 11th just five seconds back with a personal best 2:27:53 on a warm day (66 at the start, 73 at the finish and sunny), was her teammate Desireé Davila. Tera Moody of the US was the third American in 28th (2:36:39) and Paige Higgins was 30th in 2:37:11.
Hard to believe a year ago Kara Goucher had never run a marathon. This was her third marathon since Beijing (2nd in NY and 3rd in Boston) and arguably her worst. Up next for Kara is a break from running and an attempt to have a really fast kid (she wants to have children) with her husband, American 5,000m runner Adam. So it's unlikely we'll see Goucher racing again before the fall of 2011.
Goucher Fluid Problems
It's impossible to say, but on the warm day, Goucher's fluid problems may have done her in. This was her second time in three marathons where she's had problems with fluids (the first was in NY).
Goucher said she felt great early on: "My legs felt great, and I felt really relaxed ... The pace felt comfortable, and it felt like practice." Then her body gave out on her. She said, "I started to cramp with 13k to go, and then the field started to surge. It wasn't there. I just wasn't good enough today ...When the field made their break, my body wouldn't go."
Desireé Davila, the Brooks Hanson's runner, was just 5 seconds behind Goucher at the finish in a PR. She went out behind the lead pack and hit the half in 1:14:21. She actually gained on the leaders when they slowed from the halfway point until 25k, as she was the next runner in the field. She was content to run her own race, and she executed beautifully a negative-split (1:13:32) to move up nicely through the field. After the race she said, "I went out pretty even, and was able to pick it up along the way. A huge pack was sitting in front of me, and as it broke up, I was able to weave my way through."
Davila had been fourth in the US Olympic Trials until the final five miles and appears to have a bright future. Tera Moody, who was fifth at the Olympic Trials, completed the US team scoring in 36th in 2:36:39. Moody had an asthma attack after the race and collapsed in front of the reporters. It was a scary sight but after some puffs from her emergency inhaler she was alright. She said, "I wanted to break 2:30 today, but with the heat, I had to be a little more conservative. I felt really great, but I just didn't have the turnover."
5k Split Total Time # in Lead Pack