Tamirat Tola Leads Ethiopian 1-2 in 2022 World Championship Marathon as Cam Levins Smashes Canadian Record

Tola crushed the championship record by running 2:05:36 to win by over a minute.

By LetsRun.com
July 17, 2022

EUGENE, Ore. – Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola used a 13:55 5k split from 33k to 38k to break open a tight race and storm to victory at the 2022 World Athletics Championships on Sunday morning, running 2:05:36 on a perfect day for marathoning. Tola, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000 and 2017 Worlds silver medalist in the marathon, added the world title to marathon victories in Dubai (2017) and Amsterdam (2021) and took 78 seconds off Abel Kirui championship record of 2:06:54 set in Berlin in 2009.

Ethiopians went 1-2 for the second straight World Championship, and for the second straight World Championship the silver medalist was Mosinet Geremew, the fourth-fastest man in history (2:02:55 pb), who ran 2:06:44, edging out Belgium’s Bashir Abdi, who finished 3rd in 2:06:48 to add World bronze to the Olympic bronze he earned in Sapporo last year. 

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Cam Levins ran a humongous personal best of 2:07:10 to take more than two minutes off his Canadian record and finish 4th, four seconds ahead of two-time NYC Marathon champ Geoffrey Kamworor. Galen Rupp ran with the leaders through 30k before fading late and finished as top American in 19th in 2:09:36.

There was little drama in the first half of the race, and with temperatures in the 50s, overcast conditions, and minimal wind, weather was good for running fast and the lead pack of 33 men passed halfway in 64:06, pretty quick for a championship marathon. There were still 26 guys together through 30k (1:31:10 split, 2:08:13 pace), but things picked up from there with the leaders going 2:52/2:57/2:52 for their next three kilometers to whittle the lead group to 14 (Rupp fell off during kilometer 31).

Tola was ready to go a lot quicker, however, and struck hard with an incredible 2:43 split for his 34th kilometer (1:54:37 marathon pace). That earned him a seven-second lead, and it would only grow the rest of the way to the finish line as he won going away. The real drama was the race for the other two medals, and with just over 3k to run, Abdi, Geremew, Levins, and Kamworor were all running together. Abdi and Geremew would break away from Levins and Kamworor late, with Geremew separating over the final kilometer to earn the silver ahead of Abdi in bronze.The other two Americans, Elkanah Kibet and Colin Mickow, finished 24th (Kibet in 2:11:20) and 46th (Mickow in 2:16:36); Mickow took a nasty spill at a drinks station early and finished the race with a bloody arm for his trouble.

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Analysis, and Results, and post-race interviews below.

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Top 20 Results (Full results here)

1ETHTamirat TOLA2:05:36 CR
2ETHMosinet GEREMEW2:06:44
3BELBashir ABDI2:06:48
4CANCameron LEVINS2:07:09 NR
5KENGeoffrey KAMWOROR2:07:14 SB
6ETHSeifu TURA2:07:17
7TANGabriel Gerald GEAY2:07:31 SB
9BRNShumi DECHASA2:07:52 SB
10ZIMIsaac MPOFU2:07:56 NR
11ISRMaru TEFERI2:07:59
12MAROthmane EL GOUMRI2:08:14
13JPNYusuke NISHIYAMA2:08:35
14MARHamza SAHLI2:08:45
15KENBarnabas KIPTUM2:08:59
16ERIOqbe Kibrom RUESOM2:09:02
17FRAHassan CHAHDI2:09:20
18RSAMelikhaya FRANS2:09:24 PB
19USAGalen RUPP2:09:36 SB

Quick Take: A degree of redemption for Ethiopia after last year’s disastrous Olympic marathon

Ethiopia failed to finish a single man in last year’s Olympic marathon, with the consensus that their squad was ill-prepared for the heat of Sapporo. But conditions in Eugene were cool and great for running and the Ethiopians thrived today, going 1-2-6 (Chicago champ Seifu Tura was 6th in 2:07:17). Of course, Ethiopia also went 1-2 in steamy Doha in 2019 so perhaps more went into last year’s disaster than just the hot weather.

The Worlds marathon isn’t as prestigious as the Olympics, so today’s performance can’t totally make up for last year, but it was a strong showing by the Ethiopians. Tola now has quite the resume – gold and silver in the World Championship marathon, an Olympic bronze at 10,000, and a 2:03:39 pb, which he ran to set a course record in Amsterdam last year. One thing he has yet to capture is a World Marathon Major victory, but he’s entered in London this fall (11 weeks away) and with Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin, Tola will have a legit chance to win.

Quick Take: Bashir Abdi’s coach Gary Lough wanted more today

Last year at the Olympics, Belgium’s Bashir Abdi’s bronze medal was a surprise as he entered the race with a modest 2:06:14 pb. Today, his medal was far from a shock as he ran 2:03:26 to win Rotterdam last fall after the Olympics. After being injured and not starting training until February, Abdi ran Rotterdam on 8 weeks training this spring and still ran 2:05:23

Abdi’s coach Gary Lough admitted he wasn’t satisfied with the bronze. “I do think he was capable of more today,” said Lough who said Abdi missed his water bottle 3-4 times and then became frustrated and Lough said you don’t want “frustration and tension” in a marathon. Lough said that missing the bottles made Abdi “doubt himself” a little bit and hesitant to go when Tola broke. Tola ran so well gold may not have been likely for Abdi, but silver was a “distinct possibility.”

Quick take: Don’t tell the 4th and 5th place finishers that they weren’t winners today

Who decided that the top 3 get medals? It’s kind of arbitrary, right? What if there were four medallists? Did you know that in the first modern Olympics only two people got prizes and only one got a medal?

Both the 4th and 5th placers today, Cam Levins and Geoffrey Kamworor, were quite pleased with their races.

“The race was good. [For] me, I can say it was good. For the last few years I’ve had a lot of challenges, injuries. So coming back that way has me convinced I’m coming back strong,” said Kamworor, who added that he didn’t know what fall marathon he’d be doing.

Cam Levins: “This was the race of my life”

Last year at the Olympics, Cam Levins was horrible as he finished 72nd out of 76 in 2:28:43. He came into today ranked 786th in the world with a 2:09:25 personal best, but that 2:09:25 came way back in 2018 in the first marathon he finished. Since then, he’d never broken 2:10.

So to run 2:07:10 today and finish 4th was an incredible turnaround. Levins explained how he did it after the race.

“This was the race of my life. I had a really incredible build up. I learned a lot from the Olympics last year, when I was one of the last finishers. I realized I needed to be better in every conceivable way as an athlete, so everything had gone right. It’s probably the first World Championship that I was like, I couldn’t have done anything more coming into today. So when I was there late in the game, I was like, I deserve to be here. I want a medal. I’m gonna medal. I just barely missed it but I gave everything I could.”

When asked specifically what he changed between last year and this, Levins said almost everything. 

“I’m running more miles than ever, I’m lifting better than ever. I’m taking on harder workouts and doing double workout days as well. Just like anything I could think of I just did more of and tried to do higher quality, and I mean, I still got more quality to gain out of it, but as far as workload goes, I don’t think I can do any more than I’m doing right now.”

As for what the mileage was, Cam said, “I’ve been most weeks 170 to 180 miles – so I’m running lots.”

Back in college, Levins became a LetsRun.com messageboard legend as he was known for running A LOT of mileage, up to three times a day. As a member of the Nike Oregon Project, he toned it down but he’s now back to his old ways and it’s paying off.

MB: Cameron Levins (SUU) Article

MB: Cam Levins SMASHES 43 year-old Canadian record with a 2:09:25 !!!

Quick Take: Galen Rupp admitted he “just missed too much time training”

We knew going in that Rupp had not had the best buildup, as he had dealt with a back injury earlier this year and got COVID in June. He was hoping he could rely on his talent to deliver a big result today but his talent was not enough today.

“This was obviously a tough one,” Rupp said. “But proud of myself to get across the finish line. It was pretty rough today, the last two miles today.”

Rupp came in with the hopes of winning a medal and put himself in position to do so, but when the pace picked up after 30k, he lacked the ability to respond. Rupp wasn’t entirely despondent, however. He said he enjoyed being able to run in front of the fans in his home state on the roads surrounding his alma mater.

“It meant so much to me hearing everybody out there, seeing a lot of familiar faces, some of them I haven’t seen in years,” Rupp said. “It was very special.”

Rupp also believes that he is trending in the right direction. After 18 months of training at less than 100%, Rupp thinks he has turned a corner and said he will continue to race marathons, including one this fall.

“I am getting better, believe it or not,” Rupp said. “From a mechanical standpoint, my form has really come a long way just in the last couple months. I’m excited.”

Quick Take: Colin Mickow gave it his all in his first time wearing the red, white, and blue

Mickow, who gets up at 4 a.m. to log 140+ mile weeks while balancing a job as a financial analyst, was in no position to talk to the media after the race but we did film him prone on the ground to give you an idea of the type of effort he gave today.

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