A 5-Minute Guide to the Marathons at the 2022 World Championships

By Jonathan Gault
July 15, 2022

The World Championships marathon can sometimes be an afterthought. The Olympics and some of the World Marathon Majors carry more prestige, and because there’s a World Championships unfolding on the track at the same time, the Worlds marathon can get caught in the shuffle.

Seriously, can you name the reigning world champions in the marathon? Go on, take your time.

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(Lelisa Desisa and Ruth Chepngetich are the answers).

Don’t feel bad if you couldn’t remember. After all, those champions were crowned at 2:30 a.m. on a deserted Corniche in Doha.

The World Championship marathon occupies an odd space in our sport. The fields are often quite strong, which is certainly the case this year, but Worlds is not always a marathoner’s most important race of the year. And this Worlds comes at a very strange time indeed — the middle of July, a time when virtually no other marathons of consequence are held.

But the fields are quite strong this year and with great weather forecasts, the races could be historically fast by WC standards. In the men’s race (Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET), we’ll get to see Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono — aka the Best Marathoner in the World Not Named Eliud Kipchoge — as well as Olympic marathon medalists Abdi Nageeye and Bashir Abdi, Ethiopian star Mosinet Geremew (2:02:55 pb, #4 all-time), Chicago champ Seifu Tura, two-time NYC champ Geoffrey Kamworor, and a two-time Olympic medalist by the name of Galen Rupp.

In the women’s race (Monday, 9:15 a.m. ET), world/Chicago/Nagoya champ Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya will face 2:17 women Ashete Bekere and Angela Tanui and Berlin champ Gotytom Gebreslase, plus American record holder Keira D’Amato. Below, a quick guide to the races.

*Course map

1) Which stud is going to win?

Shocker alert, Kenya and Ethiopia — by far the best marathon nations on Earth — have some pretty loaded teams.

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On the men’s side, five of LetsRun’s top 10 marathoners in the world last year will be at Worlds: Bashir Abdi, Lawrence Cherono, Seifu Tura, Tamirat Tola, and Abdi Nageeye. Cherono’s recent track record is simply amazing. Here’s what he’s done starting in the fall of 2018: 1st Amsterdam, 1st Boston, 1st Chicago, 2nd Valencia, 4th Olympics, 1st Valencia, 2nd Boston. The dude is a machine. And yet he’s facing two of the men who beat him at the Olympics in Sapporo last year in Abdi and Nageeye, as well as a guy who has won five global titles between XC and the roads, Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya (who will be looking to avenge a poor 18th-place showing in Boston in April). And there’s Mosinet Geremew, who was the silver medalist in 2019 and has run 2:02:55. That’s a very tough lineup.

The women’s race only features three of LetsRun’s top 10 from 2021 (#3 Angela Tanui, #6 Ashete Bekere, #9 Gotytom Gebreslase) but it was initially supposed to have two more (#1 Peres Jepchirchir and #10 Molly Seidel) only for the latter two to pull out with injury. But considering how well Chepngetich (2021 Chicago champ, 2022 Nagoya champ in 2:17:18) and Ashete Bekere have been running recently (2:18:18 for 3rd at 2021 London, 2:17:58 for 2nd at 2022 Tokyo), this is still a strong field up top.

Inevitably, some of the top athletes struggle at Worlds. It’s usually hot (though it shouldn’t be this year…keep reading), it’s not a time of year when most marathoners are in shape, and many will have one eye on the fall season, where they can actually get paid to run (there are no appearance fees at Worlds). Plus you’ve got all the usual difficulties of a marathon — injuries in the buildup, cramp/fueling difficulties on race day, etc. But whoever wins is going to be a stud. There are too many fast men and women in the field for it not to be.

2) Could we see some fast times?

Normally it’s foolish to think about time in a World Championship marathon. All the reasons in the preceding paragraph — particularly the hot weather — are not conducive to running fast. In Doha three years ago, the winning times were 2:10 and 2:32.

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But the marathons in Eugene are starting early — 6:15 a.m. local time on Sunday and Monday — and as a result the conditions are nearly perfect for marathoning. Check this out (per DarkSky):

Sunday conditions: 53 degrees at the start, 57 degrees at the finish, 3 mph wind, dew point of 46.
Monday conditions: 50 degrees at the start, 55 degrees at the finish, 4-5 mph wind, dew point of 41.

World Marathon Majors race directors would kill for those conditions. Of course, there are no pacers at the World Championships, but if anyone is willing to push the pace early, we could see some fast times, especially now that the top athletes all have supershoes. The championship records of 2:06:54 (Abel Kirui, 2009) and 2:20:57 (Paula Radcliffe, 2005) could be in danger.

3) Could an American medal?

Americans rarely medal in the World Championship marathon. Not only is it a difficult race to medal in, but the US rarely sends its very best athletes to Worlds in the marathon as they would rather get paid to run a major (totally understandable). That’s not the case in 2022 though: these may be the strongest squads the USA has ever sent to Worlds in the marathon. (Even though the selection process was fundamentally flawed).

On the women’s side, the US is running Sara Hall (2:20:32 pb, #3 all-time US), Emma Bates (Chicago runner-up), and American record holder Keira D’Amato (2:19:12 pb). D’Amato was only added to the team two weeks ago after Olympic bronze medalist Molly Seidel withdrew due to injury, which means she hasn’t had time to get in a full buildup. The good news is D’Amato is still very fit at the moment as she ran 31:17 to win the BAA 10K on June 26.

The men’s team features 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Galen Rupp, NYC Marathon 4th placer Elkanah Kibet, and Colin Mickow.

Colin who? 

Colin Mickow, who is actually one of the coolest stories of the World Championships. A decent collegiate runner at Illinois (14:08/29:10 pbs) Mickow stopped running competitively after graduating in 2012. He then took about seven years away from the sport before running Chicago in 2019 in 2:14:55. He improved his pb to 2:13:45 to finish 15th at the Olympic Trials in 2020, and then to 2:11:22 at the Marathon Project later that year before earning his spot on Team USA with a 6th-place finish in Chicago last fall.

Mickow, 32, works full-time as a financial analyst and logs 140-150 miles a week by waking up a 4 a.m. each weekday to train. He’s not going to medal, but the fact that he’s on Team USA at all is pretty crazy.

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Can any American medal? The weather can often serve as an equalizer — that’s one of the reasons Seidel was able to medal in Sapporo last year — but it’s not going to be a factor in Eugene, which will make it tougher for the US runners to contend. D’Amato probably has the best shot at a medal on the women’s side as her 2:19:12 pb isn’t that far off the top women, but the fact that she hasn’t had a real buildup could come back to bite her. Bates hasn’t done much this year but she has yet to run a bad marathon in her career and could surprise some people. Hall started off 2022 strongly by breaking the American record in the half in Houston, and though she ran a solid 2:22 in Tokyo in March, she had to withdraw from Boston in April due to injury. Since then, her results haven’t been great (she ran 31:50 and 31:41 in a pair of road 10Ks in May and June), making a medal difficult.

As for the men, Rupp, who was 2nd in Chicago last year in 2:06:35, would have been a serious medal threat if healthy but he hasn’t been healthy for much of 2022. He was only 7th at the US 15K champs in March and then had to drop out of the NYC Half two weeks later with what was later diagnosed as a herniated disc. He then got COVID in June. As a result, he’s had a rocky buildup. It’s hard to see Rupp going from awful and injured in March to a World Championship medal four months later, but he’ll have incredible motivation and a lot of support as the race will run around his old college stomping grounds of Eugene.

Kibet is coming off two personal bests (2:11:15 for 4th in New York, 2:09:07 for 9th in Boston) but a good day for him would realistically be top 10, not a medal.

Will the men's WC marathon record of 2:06:54 fall on Sunday?

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Will the women's WC marathon record of 2:20:57 fall on Sunday?

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Will Galen Rupp medal in the WC marathon?

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Will an American woman medal in the WC marathon?

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Men’s Entrants

BIB Athlete Country PB SB World rank
1804 Tamirat TOLA ETH 2:03:39 2:04:14 2
1796 Mosinet GEREMEW ETH 2:02:55 2:04:43 3
1609 Daniel DO NASCIMENTO BRA 2:04:51 2:04:51 13
2166 Abdi NAGEEYE NED 2:04:56 2:04:56 6
1795 Deso GELMISA ETH 2:04:53 2:05:07 9
1805 Seifu TURA ETH 2:04:29 2:05:10 5
1570 Bashir ABDI BEL 2:03:36 2:05:23 8
2071 Kengo SUZUKI JPN 2:04:56 2:05:28 11
2125 Mohamed Reda EL Aaraby MAR 2:06:55 2:06:55 35
1986 Maru TEFERI ISR 2:06:58 2:06:58 79
1567 Olivier IRABARUTA BDI 2:07:13 2:07:13 140
2132 Hamza SAHLI MAR 2:07:15 2:07:15 146
2127 Othmane EL Goumri MAR 2:06:18 2:07:16 62
1751 Oqbe Kibrom Ruesom ERI 2:05:53 2:07:25 180
1747 Filmon ANDE ERI 2:06:38 2:07:25 88
2051 Gaku HOSHI JPN 2:07:31 2:07:31
2092 Barnabas KIPTUM KEN 2:04:17 2:07:35 45
1732 Ibrahim HASSAN DJI 2:07:38 2:07:38 115
2065 Yusuke NISHIYAMA JPN 2:07:47 2:07:47
1983 Haimro ALMAYA ISR 2:07:45 2:08:15 137
1826 Hassan CHAHDI FRA 2:08:19 2:08:19 206
1619 Jose Marcio LEAO Da Silva BRA 2:08:37 2:08:37 518
1591 Hector GARIBAY FLORES BOL 2:09:08 2:09:08 215
2335 Jackson KIPROP UGA 2:08:28 2:09:43 145
1623 Paulo Roberto Paula BRA 2:09:51 2:09:51 698
1634 Shumi DECHASA BRN 2:06:43 2:10:09 121
1573 Lahsene BOUCHIKHI BEL 2:10:22 2:10:22 521
2440 Isaac MPOFU ZIM 2:10:24 2:10:24 257
2308 Emanuel Giniki GISAMODA TAN 2:10:39 2:10:39 200
2346 Nicolás CUESTAS URU 2:11:03 2:11:03 554
1985 Tasama MOOGAS ISR 2:11:10 2:11:10
2261 Tumelo MOTLAGALE RSA 2:11:15 2:11:15 231
2107 Joohan OH KOR 2:05:13 2:11:16
2150 Gantulga DAMBADARJAA MGL 2:11:18 2:11:18 453
2151 Byambajav TSEVEENRAVDAN MGL 2:09:03 2:11:23 594
2348 Ernesto Andrés ZAMORA URU 2:11:26 2:11:26 381
1871 Joshua GRIFFITHS GBR 2:11:28 2:11:28 258
2332 Filex Malewa CHEMONGESI UGA 2:05:12 2:12:14 153
2144 Dario CASTRO MEX 2:13:37 2:13:37 328
2149 Ser-Od BAT-OCHIR MGL 2:08:50 2:24:27 238
2082 Lawrence CHERONO KEN 2:03:04 4
1753 Hiskel TEWELDE ERI 2:04:35 50
1793 Lelisa DESISA ETH 2:04:45
2307 Gabriel Gerald GEAY TAN 2:04:55 26
2085 Geoffrey KAMWOROR KEN 2:05:23 29
1749 Goitom KIFLE ERI 2:05:28 46
2418 Galen RUPP USA 2:06:07 16
2339 Fred MUSOBO UGA 2:06:56 399
1670 Guojian DONG CHN 2:08:28 359
1646 Cameron LEVINS CAN 2:09:25 789
1513 Joaquin ARBE ARG 2:09:36 507
2358 Colin BENNIE USA 2:09:38 260
2209 Jorge CASTELBLANCO PAN 2:09:49 1528
1674 Jianhua PENG CHN 2:09:57 274
1519 Eulalio MUNOZ ARG 2:09:59 456
2302 David NILSSON SWE 2:10:09 340
1654 Ben PREISNER CAN 2:10:17 672
2118 Tebello RAMAKONGOANA LES 2:10:24 266
1889 Chris THOMPSON GBR 2:10:52 408
1729 Thijs NIJHUIS DEN 2:10:57 588
1899 Tom GRÖSCHEL GER 2:11:03 306
2391 Elkanah KIBET USA 2:11:15 71
1682 Shaohui YANG CHN 2:11:19 261
2406 Colin MICKOW USA 2:11:22 237
2143 Patricio CASTILLO MEX 2:11:24 392
1577 Thomas DE BOCK BEL 2:11:27 298
2252 Melikhaya FRANS RSA 2:11:28 198
1647 Rory LINKLETTER CAN 2:12:54 330
1987 Eduardo Terrance GARCIA ISV 2:18:50 804
2172 Krishna Bahadur BASNET NEP 2:21:25

Women’s Entrants

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