Women’s 5,000: Hellen Obiri Takes Down Almaz Ayana to Win Her First World Championship Title

By LetsRun.com
August 13, 2017

LONDON — Hellen Obiri of Kenya used a blistering kick to crush world 10,000m record holder Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia on the final lap and win her first world global outdoor title by capturing the 5,000m in 14:34.86 at the 2017 IAAF World Championships.

There was nothing complicated about this race. There was a super slow opening lap (81.77) and then Ayana went to the lead. She didn’t really start pressing until the fourth lap, which she ran in 65.56, and from that point on it was a two-woman race between the two favorites, Ayana, coming off her 10,000m title from last Saturday, and Obiri, who captured silver in Rio last year behind Vivian Cheruiyot, who has since moved up to the marathon.

Article continues below player
Like this article? Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media
The latest running news, sent to your inbox weekly or when urgent news breaks.

You have been subscribed.

Ayana led the entire way until the final lap, but she could not shake Obiri. After her 65.56, she ran 66.21, and then four straight 68-second laps, until slowing to 69 seconds for the 10th and 11th laps of the race. She had done nothing to shake Obiri at the bell. Obiri, with her 3:57 1500m speed, waited until 300m to go to strike, and she blasted past Ayana with ease flying down the backstretch. Her final lap of 60.67 (30.76, 29.91) got her the win by nearly five seconds over Ayana. She had utterly destroyed the world record holder in the 10,000m.

Behind Ayana and Obiri, when they first made their break, there was an African chase pack, that then merged with the pack behind it that had the Americans in it. With three laps to go, Sifan Hassan who had gone for gold in the 1500 on the final lap but ended up off the podium, began pushing the pace in the chase pack. She’d pull away on the final lap to secure third with ease, nearly five seconds up on Senbere Teferi of Ethiopia. Hometown hero Laura Muir had a nice kick to secure 6th and first non-African-born finisher. Shannon Rowbury was the first American in 14:59.92 in 9th.


1 4086 Hellen Onsando OBIRI KENKEN 14:34.86
2 3839 Almaz AYANA ETHETH 14:40.35 SB
3 4127 Sifan HASSAN NEDNED 14:42.73
4 3849 Senbere TEFERI ETHETH 14:47.45
5 4080 Margaret Chelimo KIPKEMBOI KENKEN 14:48.74
6 3900 Laura MUIR GBRGBR 14:52.07
7 4081 Sheila Chepkirui KIPROTICH KENKEN 14:54.05 PB
8 4130 Susan KRUMINS NEDNED 14:58.33
9 4366 Shannon ROWBURY USAUSA 14:59.92
10 3898 Eilish MCCOLGAN GBRGBR 15:00.43
11 3845 Letesenbet GIDEY ETHETH 15:04.99
12 4343 Molly HUDDLE USAUSA 15:05.28
13 4342 Shelby HOULIHAN USAUSA 15:06.40
14 3703 Kalkidan GEZAHEGNE BRNBRN 15:28.21
4153 Karoline Bjerkeli GRØVDAL NORNOR DNF
Lap Split
1 81.77
2 78.97
3 74.86
4 65.56
5 66.21
6 68.31
7 68.21
8 68.41
9 68.59
10 69.07
11 69.23
12 65.76
Final lap
 60.67 (30.76, 29.91)

Splits (leader)
3:18.62 (Kalkidan Gezahegne)
2000: 6:07.41 (Almaz Ayana)
3000: 8:58.05 (Ayana)
4000: 11:49.95 (Ayana)

QT: The race went exactly to plan for Hellen Obiri

Obiri said after Thursday’s prelims that she wanted the winning time to be around 14:30 and that if she was still with Ayana with 400 to go she would win. Well the winning time was 14:34, Obiri was with Ayana with 400 to go and Obiri did win.

Many may have handed this race to Ayana after her domination in last week’s 10,000, but if you did that, you weren’t paying attention to Obiri, who has been magnificent all season long. Obiri has a wicked combination of strength (14:22 in Shanghai and a 14:18 in Rome this year, both solo efforts) and big-time speed (1500 bronze in ‘13, 3:57.05 1500 pb) and, in case you forgot, actually beat Ayana in the Olympic 5,000 last year. To drop Obiri tonight, Ayana was going to have to run a world record or at least close to it without the help of a rabbit, and even Ayana wasn’t capable of that.

The 27-year-old Obiri has had a decorated career (World Indoor gold and silver, Olympic silver, World Outdoor bronze) but the big one — a global outdoor title — had eluded her until tonight. But with Kenyan 5k queen Vivian Cheruiyot moving to the roads, the opportunity was there for Obiri to win this race, and she made the decision with her coach and manager Ricky Simms back in March to focus on the 5,000 in 2017. Tonight, that decision was validated as Obiri earned the crowning achievement of a glittering career.

QT: Ayana does better than in Rio

Ayana got the 10,000m gold and 5,000m silver here in London. In Rio, she got the 10,000m gold with a world record and only bronze in the 5,000m after she faded at the end after dropping Hellen Obiri mid-race.

Ayana said the injury that had bothered her all season and caused her not to race until Worlds resurfaced and it caused her some problems tonight. “I have been injured for the whole season and haven’t been able to get over it. The pain came back after the 10,000m. I did my best today but Hellen was too good at finishing. It was all I could today.”

“But I won’t give up going for 5000m and 10,000m. I won gold and bronze in Rio and now gold and silver, so this is a step up.”

QT: Sifan Hassan atones for missing medals in 1500

The biggest smile in the mixed zone wasn’t from Hellen Obiri but from Sifan Hassan. “I’m so happy. I can’t stop talking,” Hassan said of exorcising some of the demons from the 1500 earlier at these championships. Hassan had gone for the win in the 1500 on the final lap and then faded in grand fashion to 5th. She put that all behind her tonight and ran a smart race to get third. However, she was still thinking about the 1500, “After the 1500m I was so disappointed and sad, and I was so scared to make another mistake like I did in the 1500m. Crossing the line was so fantastic, when that happened to me in the 1500m – every night I was waking up thinking ‘That was a nightmare.’ But it was reality,” Hassan said.

Hassan after the prelims said her plan was to run the 5000m just for experience but she has bold plans for the future in this event, “Believe me, this is my event. In time I will keep up with the best, Ayana and Obiri, I just have to work at the event.”

Hassan made the bold decision to move to America and join the Nike Oregon Project this year. She works primarily with assistant coach Pete Julian. Julian said the Oregon Project runners run to win and Hassan went for it in the 1500 and paid the price. Mentally it was tough to bounce back from that but he did quite well tonight.

Head NOP coach Alberto Salazar did not come to these championships, but Julian said Alberto may come in the future and that it is a team environment so he’s been in contact with Alberto during London 2017.

QT: Laura Muir has no regrets on attempting double

Muri was 4th in the 1,500 and 6th in the 5,000. She knew she was in over her head a bit in terms of the medals for the 5000 saying, “It was always going to be Obiri and Ayana. When they went I knew not to panic too much. I think I raced it really well, and I’m happy with how it went as a final.

“It’s an outdoor personal best. I ran two seconds faster indoors but that was off metronomic pacing, whereas that race was so slow off the start. If it hadn’t have been I definitely would have ran a personal best. It’s been tough, maybe more physically than mentally. I’ve enjoyed the opportunities so much to come out here and give the two events a shot, and I’m really happy I placed highly in both.”

QT: Shannon Rowbury wanted a faster pace

Rowbury knew that in order to medal, she had to go with the chase pack of African-born women when the race began to string out but they moved so hard that she was not able to cover it. Rowbury and a few other women did eventually bridge the gap, but when the top group of chasers surged again, she was again left behind and as a result she was never in serious medal contention.

Rowbury, who holds the American record at 14:38, was hoping for a medal, but 9th in the world is nothing to be ashamed of. Perhaps on her best day she could have beaten someone like Laura Muir, but Rowbury was unlikely to medal no matter how this race played out.

“The women who won ran the best race today, so props to them,” Rowbury said.

QT: Molly Huddle’s world championship track career comes to an end

Huddle won’t try to run Worlds again on the track but said she will still run some track races from time to time including USA nationals. She’ll be shifting her focus to the marathon, but won’t do a fall marathon this year.

QT: Shelby Houlihan said she made a “dumb” mistake by not responding to the move midway through the race

When the third pack (Krumins, Rowbury, Muir, Huddle, McColgan) moved up to join the second pack (Hassan and the Africans minus Obiri and Ayana), Houlihan was towards the back and did not respond immediately. As a result, she put herself in a hole and even though she worked to close that gap for the remainder of the race, she could not make up the ground and had to settle for 13th place. That’s not what Houlihan wanted, especially after beating both Huddle and Rowbury at USAs.

Like this article? Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media

The latest running news, sent to your inbox weekly or when urgent news breaks.

You have been subscribed.