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Bai Xue Leads Chinese Red Army In 2009 Marathon World Championships In Berlin

by: LetsRun.com
August 23, 2009
Berlin, Germany

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.

The Race
By halfway (1:13:39), the real running had not begun, as 24 women were still together (5k splits and results below). The slow pace was having its casualties, as 2008 Boston champ Dire Tune fell 1:26 in. She would get up and rejoin the pack. The real running began soon after (1:30 in), when Russia's Nailiya Yulamanova (Rotterdam champ this year in a PR of 2:26:30) went to the front and started pushing the pace. By 30k (1:44:33), the lead pack was falling apart, as the faster pace was taking its toll on the women on the sun-drenched streets of Berlin (the 5k from 25k to 30k was 17:02 (17-minute pace is 2:23:26 pace); the previous one had been 17:44). American Kara Goucher, who had run quietly in the pack throughout, was off the back at this point.

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Nine 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.

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Nine Without Yulamanova pushing up front, the pace actually slowed from 35k to 40k (17:06), letting Zhou (9 seconds back) and Zhu (17 seconds back) get closer.

The Battle For The Medals
The real running, however, was still yet to come. Bai of China had something left in the tank. At the 40k water stop she threw off her cap and the push for home was on. Mergia was the first victim of the faster pace. It was now down to the two Asian rivals Bai and Ozaki. Bai was too strong the final kilometer and, as she went under the Brandenburg Gate just yards from the finish, she was the well-deserved champion. She crossed in 2:25:15, ten seconds ahead of Ozaki and 17 ahead of Mergia.

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.

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Nine Bai is only 20 years old, yet this was her 11th marathon, and she reportedly ran a 2:37:07 when she was 14 (at the press conference, she claimed that marathon was not that serious).

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."

Americans 10th And 11th

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
Goucher revealed after the race from the second fluid station on she had trouble keeping her fluids in. She said, "I had a lot of problems keeping my fluids down. After the second personal fluid station, I started throwing up what I took in. I would start taking it, then a mile later, I'd throw up."

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."

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Nine 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
*Online splits for the entire field

1 214 Xue Bai CHN 2:25:15 (SB)
2 573 Yoshimi Ozaki JPN 2:25:25 (SB)
3 336 Aselefech Mergia ETH 2:25:32
4 233 Chunxiu Zhou CHN 2:25:39 (SB)
5 234 Xiaolin Zhu CHN 2:26:08 (SB)
6 733 Marisa Barros POR 2:26:50
7 565 Yuri Kano JPN 2:26:57 (SB)
8 833 Nailiya Yulamanova RUS 2:27:08
9 780 Alevtina Biktimirova RUS 2:27:39 (SB)
10 993 Kara Goucher USA 2:27:48 (SB)
11 980 Desireé Davila USA 2:27:53 (PB)
12 601 Julia Mumbi Muraga KEN 2:28:59 (SB)
13 225 Weiwei Sun CHN 2:29:39 (SB)
14 553 Yoshiko Fujinaga JPN 2:29:53
15 835 Svetlana Zakharova RUS 2:29:55
16 325 Bezunesh Bekele ETH 2:30:03
17 444 Sabrina Mockenhaupt GER 2:30:07 (SB)
18 120 Lisa Jane Weightman AUS 2:30:42 (PB)
19 620 Zivilé Balciünaité LTU 2:31:06 (SB)
20 747 Kum-Ok Kim PRK 2:31:24
21 598 Irene Limika KEN 2:31:29
22 764 Lidia Simon ROU 2:32:03
23 337 Dire Tune ETH 2:32:42
24 661 Beata Naigambo NAM 2:33:05 (PB)
25 299 Alessandra Aguilar ESP 2:33:38
26 839 Epiphanie Nyirabarame RWA 2:33:59 (NR)
27 324 Atsede Baysa ETH 2:36:04
28 1012 Tera Moody USA 2:36:39 (SB)
29 791 Olga Glok RUS 2:36:57
30 998 Paige Higgins USA 2:37:11 (SB)
31 549 Yukiko Akaba JPN 2:37:43
32 812 Lyubov Morgunova RUS 2:38:23
33 745 Yong-Ok Jong PRK 2:38:29
34 430 Susanne Hahn GER 2:38:39
35 693 Mary Davies NZL 2:38:48 (PB)
36 207 Tara Quinn-Smith CAN 2:39:19 (SB)
37 592 Risper Jemeli Kimaiyo KEN 2:39:23
38 873 Patrizia Morceli SUI 2:39:37
39 610 Sun Suk Yun KOR 2:39:56
40 649 Judith Ramírez MEX 2:40:18
41 694 Fiona Docherty NZL 2:40:18 (PB)
42 748 Un Suk Phyo PRK 2:40:39
43 175 Adriana Aparecida da Silva BRA 2:40:54 (PB)
44 692 Shireen Crumpton NZL 2:41:31 (SB)
45 770 Tanith Maxwell RSA 2:41:48 (SB)
46 292 Annemette Aagaard DEN 2:42:03 (SB)
47 596 Martha Komu KEN 2:42:14 (SB)
48 746 Chol Sun Kim PRK 2:42:18
49 365 Patricia Lossouarn FRA 2:42:40
50 363 Laurence Klein FRA 2:42:47
51 992 Zoila Gómez USA 2:42:49 (SB)
52 622 Renalda Kergyte LTU 2:45:28 (SB)
53 609 Ho-sun Park KOR 2:47:16
54 346 Stephanie Briand FRA 2:48:16
55 373 Yamna Oubouhou FRA 2:50:02 (SB)
56 660 Helalia Johannes NAM 2:50:19 (SB)
57 296 Sandra Ruales ECU 2:50:36
58 928 Jane Suuto UGA 2:52:44
59 369 Cecile Moynot FRA 2:54:21
60 762 Nuta Olaru ROU 3:00:59
462 Magdaliní Gazéa GRE DQ
161 Maria Zeferina Baldaia BRA DNF
332 Robe Guta ETH DNF
441 Ulrike Maisch GER DNF
458 Luminita Zaituc GER DNF
460 Yeoryía Abatzídou GRE DNF
595 Helena Loshanyang Kirop KEN DNF
604 Victoria Poludina KGZ DNF
607 Sun-young Lee KOR DNF
651 Dulce María Rodríguez MEX DNF
652 Luvsanlkhundeg Otgonbayar MGL DNF
213 Clara Morales CHI DNS
767 Luminita Talpos ROU DNS

17:42
17:21 35:03 30
17:07 52:10 25
17:37 1:09:47 24
1:13:39 24 half way
17:44 1:27:31 23
17:02 1:44:33 9
16:31 2:01:04
17:06 2:18:10
(16:30 pace the last 2k)

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