Yalemzerf Yehualaw Runs 4:59 24th Mile and 5:02 25th Mile To Break Open 2022 London Marathon, Wins in 2:17:26

by Jonathan Gault and Robert Johnson (In the US)
October 2, 2022

LONDON —Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw is pretty good at this marathon thing.

Two races, two wins, two 2:17s.

Yehualaw, the 23-year-old Ethiopian who ran the fastest debut in history in Hamburg in April (2:17:23), became the youngest woman to win the London Marathon, breaking the tape on the Mall today in 2:17:26. Defending champion Joyciline Jepkosgei took second in 2:18:07 in a race where the top four broke 2:19 and top six broke 2:20.

Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) runs down The Mall on her way to winning the Elite Women's Race at The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 2nd October 2022. Photo: Bob Martin for London Marathon Events For further information: media@londonmarathonevents.co.uk Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) runs down The Mall on her way to winning the Elite Women’s Race at The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 2nd October 2022.
Photo: Bob Martin for London Marathon Events

Even more impressive than the win was how Yehualaw achieved it. She unleashed a 4:43 24th mile — easily the fastest split in women’s marathon history — to get rid of Jepkosgei. And did we mention that she did all of this after suffering a fall just after mile 20?

Update: Post-race analysis shows Yehualaw likely ran a 4:59 24th mile and 5:02 25th mile instead of a 4:43 and 5:16 which makes more sense. More on that here.

The race

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After an opening 10k of 32:18, the pace slowed over the next 10k (33:07, 65:25) and a group of eight women hit halfway in 68:46. At 30k (1:37:52 – 2:17:39 pace, 32:27 last 10k), seven were in the lead pack. 

The pace then slowed as the 20th mile of 5:38 was the slowest of the race and shortly thereafter Yehualaw went down. Running in the back of the pack, she tripped over a speed bump and hurt her hip and knee, falling 20 meters behind, but she quickly got back up and rejoined the leaders. Jepkosgei and Worlds silver medalist Judith Korir then started to push the pace and by 35k (1:37:52, 2:18:03 pace) the lead pack was down to four before Yehualaw blitzed off into glory.

Elite women’s results

Quick Take: Yehualaw is a star

A 4:43 mile split in a women’s marathon? Can that possibly be right? We know many of you are thinking something has to be off. Update:  It looks like now she ran 4:59 and 5:02 for miles 24 and 25 instead of 4:43 and 5:16. Amos Kipruto only split 4:36 in the men’s race for that mile and he ran 2:04:39.

It should be pointed out that the 24th mile in London is downhill. Looking at the elevation chart, it’s hard to tell how much downhill it is but it looks to be roughly eight meters (26.2 feet), which would help you to the tune of five seconds or so according to John Kellogg’s formula.

So could a woman run a 4:48 mile in a marathon? Answer: Most definitely yes. Remember, Bridgid Kosgei’s 2:14:04 world record average out to be 5:06.8 pace. It’s also worth noting Yehualaw ran her final kilometer of her 64:22 at the Antrim Coast Half Marathon on August 28 in 2:55. That’s 4:41 mile pace.

Regardless of whether that split is 100% accurate, we know Yehualaw ran it super fast as she put a ton of distance between her and Jepkosgei.

Quick Take: Yehualaw deserves a ton of props for rebounding to win from the fall

It’s not uncommon for an athlete to fall early in a race and get up to win. Lasse Viren and Mo Farah did it in the Olympic 10k final and Geoffrey Kamworor did it at the World Half in 2016. But when you fall late in a race – and 20 miles qualifies as late in a marathon – it can be hard to get back into a rhythm. Yehualaw could not have reacted better, though, as she got to her feet quickly and had rejoined the leaders within minutes.

That said, it’s easier to get back into your rhythm when you have plenty left in the tank – and Yehualaw’s 4:43 24th mile proves that she did. She’s also not the only woman in recent years to win London after falling late in the race. Kenya’s Jemima Sumgong fell at mile 22 in 2016 and got up to win – though Sumgong was nabbed for doping a year later.

Quick Take: Women’s marathoning is incredibly strong right now

Often the winner or London earns the unofficial title of world’s best marathoner because the fields are always so good. And while there were a record seven sub-2:19 women on the start line, we can’t afford Yehualaw that title because there are so many top female marathoners right now. 

Think about it. Tigist Assefa just ran 2:15:37 to break Yehualaw’s Ethiopian record last week in Berlin. World record holder Brigid Kosgei, who had to withdraw from London this week due to injury, ran 2:16:02 to win Tokyo in March. And Peres Jepchirchir has won her last five marathons, including the Olympics, New York, and Boston. It would be incredible if they could all get together for the same race next spring.

Quick Take: Up next for Yehualaw: World Cross (probably)

While Yehualaw is very clearly one of the planet’s best marathoners, she is not exclusively a marathoner. She set the WR for 10k on the roads earlier this year (29:14) and tried to make the Ethiopian Worlds team in the 10,000, though she was only 8th at the trials in June. Heck, she wasn’t even supposed to run this race – she only decided on London once her original target, the World Half, was cancelled.

Don’t expect Yehualaw to run exclusively marathons moving forward, either. Her agent Daan van den Berg told us that the plan for now is to run the World Cross Country Championships in February in Australia. That’s assuming she is named to the team (she should be – but with the Ethiopian federation, you never know).

If Yehualaw runs World XC, we at LetsRun.com will give her two big thumbs up. World Cross is best when the stars show up. Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon for the world’s best marathoners to run World XC, and that was when it was a lot closer to the spring marathon season. World XC is on February 18 next year.

Quick Take: Joyciline Jepkosgei couldn’t have done much more today

Even though Jepkosgei had run four marathons before today – including major wins in New York and London – she still considers herself something of a marathon novice, learning something every time out. She said today that her lesson was that when the pace starts to slow, she has to pick her spots carefully.

“If everyone is strong, it is a tactical race,” Jepkosgei said. “Sometimes you need to push…you need to calculate which kilometer you need to move up.”

Jepkosgei actually did a great job of that today. She and Judith Korir were having success dropping athletes once they decided to move during the second half of the race. But there’s only so much you can do when someone is in the kind of form Yehualaw is right now. Jepkosgei did a good job of maximizing her performance, and a runner-up finish in 2:18:07 is a result to be proud of.

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Mile By Mile Splits For Yehaulaw (via London organizers – two were missing so we just gave her the time for the leaders as she was up front throughout)

Split Time Diff
Mile1 0:05:18 5:18
Mile2 0:10:28 5:10
Mile3 0:15:30 5:02
Mile4 0:20:40 5:10
Mile5 0:25:54 5:14
Mile6 0:31:09 5:15
Mile7 0:36:25 5:16
Mile8 0:41:43 5:18
Mile9 0:47:01 5:18
Mile10 0:52:17 5:16
Mile11 0:57:32 5:15
Mile12 1:02:53 5:21
Mile13 1:08:11 5:18
Mile14 1:13:34 5:23
Mile15 1:18:43 5:09
Mile16 1:23:54 5:11
Mile17 1:29:17 5:23
Mile18 1:34:25 5:08
Mile19 1:39:35 5:10
Mile20 1:45:13 5:38
Mile21 1:50:38 5:25
Mile22 1:55:52 5:14
Mile23 2:01:03 5:11
Mile24 2:05:46 4:43
Mile25 2:11:02 5:16
Mile26 2:16:17 5:15
Finish 2:17:26 1:09

This article was originally titled: “Yalemzerf Yehualaw Runs 4:43 24th Mile To Break Open 2022 London Marathon, Wins in 2:17:26”

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