Brigid Kosgei Runs 2:16:02 (#3 Time Ever) to Win 2022 Tokyo Marathon
March 6, 2022
The world record holder in the women’s marathon Brigid Kosgei ran 2:16:02 on Sunday, the 3rd-fastest time ever by a female in the marathon, to crush the field at the Tokyo Marathon.
Ashete Bekere of Ethiopia was 2nd in 2:17:58, and Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia 3rd in 2:18:18 as five women went 2:19:10 or faster. That did not include Mao Ichiyama of Japan (6th in 2:21:02) or Sara Hall of the US (8th in 2:22:56), who were hoping to break the Japanese and American records, which both stood at 2:19:12.
The race started fast with the opening downhill 5k in 16:05 (2:15:43 pace) and there was a lead pack of 5 (Kosgei, Bekere, Gebreslase, Angela Tanui and Hiwot Gebrekidan). The pace remained hot and that pack of five stayed together through halfway (1:08:06).
Those five were still together at 25k, but from 25 to 30k, Tanui and Gebrekidan fell back, making it a three-woman race. By 35k it was down to Kosgei and Gebrselase, but not for long, as Kosgei would start to pull away around 36km and cruise to the dominant victory. She essentially ran 2:16 pace the entire way (despite the wind picking up the 2nd half). Bekere would catch back up to Gebreslase by 40k and pull away to finish 2nd.
There was a second pack of Ichiyama, Hall, Hitomi Niiya of Japan, and Helen Bekele of Ethiopia that would hit halfway in 1:09:29.
They were still on 2:19:06 pace at 25k, but then they started to slow the next 5k with the wheels really falling off for Hall as she dropped 44 seconds to Ichiyama. The national record chances were gone at this point.
Ichiyama and Niiya had a good battle going for top Japanese female as they were close together until 40k when Ichiyama pulled away.
Analysis below results
(Full results here)
*Quick take: Did Kosgei ever go away?
We started this article by saying Brigid Kosgei was back, but if her 2021 was an off year, a lot of people would sign up for it. She was 2nd at the Olympics and ran 2:18:40 in London less than two months later. Granted that only got her 4th place, but she had a very good 2021.
Quick Take: Brigid Kosgei is building quite a resume in the GOAT discussion
The women’s marathon GOAT discussion is not as straightforward as the men’s, where Eliud Kipchoge is the runaway #1. For years, Paula Radcliffe was the leading answer but Kosgei is building quite a resume for herself. Back in 2019, she ran 2:14:04 in Chicago to smash Radcliffe’s world record. Her 2:16:02 today gives her the #1 and #3 times in history (Radcliffe is second at 2:15:25) and there’s a large gap back to #4 (Mary Keitany at 2:17:01). Obviously the supershoes help Kosgei – neither Radcliffe nor Keitany had them for their pbs – but everyone has supershoes in 2022 and no active marathoner has come close to Kosgei’s times.
Kosgei is also stacking up wins. She has now won Chicago twice, London twice, and Tokyo once, giving her five WMM wins (in the WMM era, only Keitany has more, with seven) as well as an Olympic silver. She also has six sub-2:19 marathoners – Radcliffe has the next-most with four. In all, Kosgei accounts for 15% of all sub-2:19’s ever run.
The women’s marathon GOAT is a longer discussion – you also have to consider women like Catherine Ndereba, Grete Waitz, and Joan Benoit Samuelson (the only woman in the GOAT discussion with an Olympic gold) – but if Kosgei puts in a few more years at this level, it may not be much of a discussion anymore.
Of course, Kosgei may not even be the best marathoner in the world right now. After all, she was beaten by Peres Jepchirchir at the Olympics last year and was only fourth in London, which was won by Joyciline Jepkosgei. Considering the conditions in Tokyo today, it’s certainly possible that Jepchirchir or Jepkosgei, both of whom have pbs in the 2:17s, could also have run 2:16 (or faster) in Tokyo. Jepkosgei and Jepchirchir will race next month in Boston, but Kosgei’s dominant win today sent a message that she isn’t going anywhere.
Quick Take: 5 Sub-2:20s in a single women’s race is a lot
Counting today, only seven times in history has a women’s race featured even three or more sub-2:20s in a single race. However, five, which happened today in Tokyo, is not the most in a single race. Six is the record, which happened at Valencia in 2020. 2019 Valencia and 2021 London also had five sub-2:20s.
Quick Take: Sara Hall takes a shot at the AR but falls short
Hall spent the first 25k running with Helen Bekele and Japan’s Hitomi Niiya and Mao Ichiyama, and while Hall, Niiya, and Ichiyama were all on national record pace at halfway, but ultimately none could hold onto the pace with Ichiyama the fastest at 2:21:02.
Angela Tanui (2:18:42) and Hiwot Gebrekidane (2:19:10) both wound up running just under the American record, but running with them was not going to be feasible for Hall as they hit halfway in a blazing 68:06 and ran significant positive splits. Hall made the right decision by hanging back with the second group and just didn’t have it today, perhaps because of the knee injury that affected the final month of her buildup following the Houston Half Marathon.
Hall’s time of 2:22:56 is still a very solid run considering that disruption, but it’s not what Hall would have hoped for after running a 67:15 American record at the Half in Houston in January.
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For complete coverage, including the women’s recap go to our 2022 Tokyo Marathon event page.