WTW: Women’s Marathoning Has Gone CRAZY + Could Newbury Park Run 2:05 For The Marathon?

The Week That Was in Running, October 3-9, 2022

By Robert Johnson
October 10, 2022

If you missed our extensive coverage of the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, where the women’s WR almost went down, where the women’s American record did go down, and where an American man debuted in 2:08:16, please catch up here as we don’t repeat ourselves – Full  2022 Chicago Marathon Coverage.

Each week, we try to make the sport more fun to follow by putting the prior week’s action in perspective for you. Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap can be found here. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.  

Women’s marathoning has officially jumped the shark

Who is the best marathoner in the world? Ok, on the men’s side that’s easy. It’s Eliud Kipchoge.

On the women’s side? Good luck with that one. Do you realize there currently are four women who have run 2:17 or faster in their last marathon and won it? And none of those four women are named Peres Jepchirchir — who if the marathon was boxing, would definitely be the title holder as she basically never loses the marathon. Jepchirchir won the Olympics and New York last year and has already won Boston this year.

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If I put Jepchirchir up at #1, here is how I rank the contenders for the “World’s Best Female Marathoner” based on their 2022 results.

  1. Peres Jepchirchir: Kenyan. 29 years old. Last 5 marathon finishes: 1st in 2019 Saitama (2:23:50), 1st in 2020 Valencia (2:17:16 pb), 1st in 2021 Olympics (2:27:20), 1st in 2021 New York (2:22:39), 1st in 2022 Boston (2:21:01). 65:06 half pb.
  2. Ruth Chepngetich: Kenyan. 28 years old. Has been sensational in her two marathon finishes this year. Just missed WR in Chicago (2:14:18) after 65:44 1st half. Also won $250,000 and Nagoya this year in 2:17:18 with a DNF at Worlds thrown in between. Won Chicago last year (2:22:31). DNF Olympics. Won Dubai and Worlds in 2019. 64:02 half pb.
  3. Yalemzerf Yehualaw: Ethiopian. 23 years old. Two marathons. Two wins. Two 2:17 times. Won Hamburg in 2:17:23 in her debut. Won London in 2:17:26 in her first major. 63:51 half pb.
  4. Tigist Assefa: Ethiopian. 28 years old. Former 800 runner shocked the world by running 2:15:37 in her 2nd-ever marathon in Berlin last month. 67:28 half pb but she ran her 2nd half in Berlin in 67:24. 2:34 in Riyadh.
  5. Brigid Kosgei: Kenyan. 28 years old. World record holder (2:14:04). Won Tokyo in a course record of 2:16:02 in her lone marathon of 2022. DNS at London due to injury. Silver at Olympics and 4th in London last year. 64:49 half pb.

With credentials like that, someone like Judith Korir, who has broken 2:20 three times in 2022 (2:19:48 win in Paris, 2:18:20 silver at Worlds, 2:18:43 for 4th in London), is an afterthought (but yes I’d rank her higher than Kosgei in terms of 2022 yearly rankings).

But the crazy thing is it’s quite possible the answer to “Who is the world’s best female marathoner?” is “None of the above.” Would it really shock you if Letesenbet Gidey, the world record holder at 5,000 (14:06), 10,000 (29:01), and the half marathon (62:52), broke the marathon world record in her debut in Valencia in December? It wouldn’t shock me.

Remember, three years ago on these very same pages after Gidey ran her ridiculous 44:20 15k WR, I explained why she “could be considered the greatest talent in women’s running history.” And what’s amazing about her times is they seem to get better the longer she runs. When she ran that 44:20, we pointed out that according to the World Athletics scoring tables it converted to a 63:07 half marathon and a 2:11:51 marathon. Those times seemed laughable as at the time the half marathon world record was 64:51 (Brigid Kosgei had run 64:28 on an aided course at Great North Run). Well now Gidey is the half marathon WR holder and her time is better than the 63:07 that the scoring tables predicted — it’s 62:52. Considering Chepngetich went out in 65:44 in Chicago, a 2:11 time doesn’t seem totally made up (although the new WA scoring tables have 44:20 at 15k equal to 2:16:07 in the marathon). Still, 2:11 would stun me but 2:13:30 seems quite doable and is what is predicted on the John Kellogg conversion chart.

Gidey winning the junior race at 2017 World XC (photo by Roger Sedres for IAAF). She won the U20 event twice, which is crazy.

Plus, in the history of the track and field world, male or female, Gidey, at 24, will be the youngest person to make their marathon debut while holding the 10,000 world record. The previous record belonged to Haile Gebrselassie who had an official age of 28 when he debuted in 2003. Gidey will actually be the first woman to make her marathon debut while holding the 10,000 world record.

But she will be the second-youngest person — male or female — who ever held the 10,000 world record to make her marathon debut. China’s Wang Junxia ran 2:24:07 in her marathon debut in April 1993 at the tender of age of 20, but Junxia ran the marathon before she set her 29:31.78 10,000 WR later that year in September.

*WTW: Did Letesenbet Gidey Just Run the Greatest World Record and We Didn’t Even Notice?
*10,000 WR Holders and Their Marathon Debuts

Stat of the Week I

To say that women’s marathoning has reached a new level in 2022 is an understatement. A record 18 27 sub-2:20s have already happened and remember there will be several more sub-2:20s in the final two months of the year, certainly in Valencia. Will we see the first sub-2:20 by a woman in NY? I’m not ruling it out.

# Sub-2:20 women’s marathons by Year
2001 2
2002 3
2003 3
2004 1
2005 2
2006 2
2007 0
2008 1
2009 0
2010 0
2011 2
2012 6
2013 1
2014 2
2015 2
2016 1
2017 4
2018 11
2019 13
2020 10
2021 8
2022 27

We initially said it was 18 but that is incorrect.

Stat of the Week II

$1,000 – amount of prize money Ruth Chepngetich would have earned if she was an American man at the 2022 Chicago Marathon as she would have been the 9th American man across the line. Chepngetich was the 25th finisher overall and beat two US male pros who earned prize money.

MB: Ruth Chepngetich would’ve chicked all the US male runners in 2009 

A 7-person Japanese HS team ran a marathon relay in 2:05:11. Could Newbury Park do this?

A high school result caught my eye in Japan last week. The 42nd Nihonkai Ekiden was held last week and it’s a 7-leg high school ekiden (relay race) over the classic 42.2km marathon distance. The top 23 teams all broke 2:10 in the marathon for the race with the top 8 teams all breaking 2:07.

The winning team, Kyuuhus Gakuin, ran 2:05:11. That’s 14:50 5k pace for the whole marathon with an average leg distance of 6k per runner as leg distances were 10k, 3k, 8.1k, 8.1k, 3k, 5k, and 5k.

I looked up the splits of the winning team for each of the legs and then just figured out what the 8.1k runners would have hit 8k in if they ran even-paced.

29:04 for 10k, 8:35 for 3k, 24:09.5 for 8k, 24:30.9 for 8k, 8:37 for 3k, 14:40 for 5k, and 15:04 for 5k.

Could Newbury Park — the top US HS team — do that? 

MB: A 7-person Japanese HS team ran a marathon relay in 2:05:11 – Could Newbury Park do that? 

Newbury Park last season

I think they definitely could have done it last year and maybe this year as well.

The women’s version of the race has a different name, Kurayoshi Women’s Ekiden, and is the half marathon distance. The winning team Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. ran 1:08:57 as the top 3 teams broke 71:00.

Kyuuhus Gakuin’s Splits
Leg 1 (10 km): 1. Shu Nagamoto 29:04
Leg 2 (3km): 9. Hasegawa? 8:35
Leg 3 (8.1075km): 9. Kanno 24:29 (that’s 24:09.5 for 8k and then keep going)
Leg 4 (8.0875 km):1. Yamato Yoshida 24:47 (that’s 24:30.9 for 8k and then keep going)
Leg 5 (3 km): 1. Shogo Iwane 8:37
Leg 6 (5 km): 2. Yudai Mizuno 14:40
Leg 7 (5k) 8. Murakami 15:04 (8)

Boys’ Top 5 Team Results
 1. Kyushu Gakuin H.S., 2:05:11
 2. Hotoku Gakuen H.S., 2:05:25
 3. Kurashiki H.S., 2:05:43
 4. Iga Hakuho H.S., 2:06:21
 5. Saku Chosei H.S., 2:06:30

Girls’ Top 5 Results
 1. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S., 1:08:57
2. Hakuoh Joshi H.S., 1:10:18
3. Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S., 1:10:42
4. Heizan H.S., 1:11:34
5. Higashi Osaka Keiai H.S., 1:11:50

*Full Results *Japan Running News Recap
*MB: A 7-person Japanese HS team ran a marathon relay in 2:05:11 – Could Newbury Park do that? 
*MB: Can we all just say it? Newbury Park was underwhelming at Clovis 
*MB: What order will the Newbury guys finish in at Clovis? 
*MB: Newbury Park Workout 

Jenny Simpson’s debut for Puma was a success

On Thursday, Jenny Simpson, the most successful female miler in US history and 2011 world 1500 champ, announced she wasn’t retiring but instead was moving to the roads and had signed an endorsement deal with Puma, after previously having been with New Balance for her whole career. A marathon eventually seems to be on the cards for Simpson as Puma’s Instagram posted a message saying, “MILER ➡️ MARATHONER (and everything in between).”

It didn’t take Simpson long to start racing. 

At the Army 10-Miler in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, the 36-year-old Simpson took home the women’s title in 54:16 — the second fastest time ever run by a woman on the course and just nine seconds off the CR (Luke Peterson won the men’s race in 49:59). That being said, it probably should be mentioned that 54:16 is two minutes slower than what Simpson ran for 10 miles in Washington last fall when she was second in the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in 52:16 in September.

MB: Jenny Simpson signs with PUMA
MB: Jenny Simpson pro career with Puma has begun, she won today’s Army 10 miler in a time of…… 

CJ Albertson is a world record holder, will he end 2022 as America’s fastest marathoner?

The 50k became an official World Athletics event in July 2021 and now both the men’s and women’s world records are held by Americans as over the weekend at the Ruth Anderson Memorial Endurance Run in San Francisco, CJ Albertson ran 2:38:43 to break Stephen Mokoka‘s 2:40:13 world record.

In case you are wondering what type of pace 2:38:43 for 50k is, it comes out to 5:06.5 per mile pace or 2:13:56 for the marathon and then add on nearly 8 more km. Des Linden is the women’s worrecord holder at 2:59:54 (2:31:49 marathon pace).

According to World Athletics, however, the 50k WR is not Albertson’s main focus this fall. His main focus is December’s Valencia Marathon where he is hoping to run 2:08. Albertson has never run under 2:10 but he’s run 2:10 twice this year on records-ineligible courses as he ran 2:10:23 in Boston in April and then 2:10:52 at Grandma’s in June. Conner Mantz leads the 2022 US list at 2:08:16.

More: CJ Albertson Runs 50k World Record In San Francisco

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