2022 NYC Marathon Women’s Preview: In Her Marathon Debut, Hellen Obiri Takes On The World Champ

By LetsRun.com
November 4, 2022

The debutante Hellen Obiri of Kenya vs the world champion Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia. That is the main story line in the women’s race at the 2022 TCS New York City Marathon.

Reigning Olympic, New York, and Boston champ Peres Jepchirchir pulled out on October 14, depriving New York of a truly epic battle, but this being New York there is still a very compelling field. 

2022 has been the Year of Debuts with Yalemzerf Yehualaw running 2:17:23 in Hamburg to break the debut marathon record and Almaz Ayana lowering it to 2:17:20 in Amsterdam with Letesenbet Gidey still to come in Valencia. It is highly unlikely Obiri lowers it further on Sunday due to the difficult New York course, but it is fitting the two-time 5,000 world champion Obiri is one of the big headliners in the race.

But by no means is the race Obiri’s to lose. We’ve yet to see betting lines on the race, but Obiri will have her hands full with the world champ Gebreslase. Other than her debut in Osaka in 2018 (a DNF), the 27-year-old Gebreslase has yet to run a bad marathon. She won last year in Berlin in 2:20:09, improved to 2:18:18 in Tokyo in March (3rd place), and PR’d again to win the world title in Eugene on July 18 (2:18:11).

Lonah Salpeter (2:17:45 pb), the bronze medallist from Worlds and Israeli record holder and 2020 Tokyo Marathon champ, is also in the field and the woman most likely to also contend for the win. The field also features last year’s runner-up Viola Cheptoo, American record holder Keira D’Amato (2:19:12 pb), three former Boston champs — Des Linden, Caroline Rotich, and Edna Kiplagat – and former world cross country and 5000m silver medallist Senbere Teferi.

Who will win? And who will finish as the top American? Let’s dig into the women’s elite field.

What: 2022 TCS New York City Marathon

When: Sunday, November 6. Women’s race starts at 8:40 a.m. ET, men’s race at 9:05 a.m. ET.

Where: New York, New York

How to watch: Live on ESPN2 starting at 8:30 a.m. ET (race will also be shown on ABC7 in New York). Download the TCS NYC app to get pro only streams.

*International TV/streaming information *Full elite women’s field *Full NYC Coverage

Notable Elite Women

Name Country PB Note
Lonah Chemtai Salpeter Israel 2:17:45
Worlds bronze medalist won Tokyo in 2020
Gotytom Gebreslase Ethiopia 2:18:11
World champ has PR’d in all 3 marathons + won 2 of ’em
Keira D’Amato USA 2:19:12
Former AR holder ran Berlin just 6 weeks ago
Edna Kiplagat Kenya 2:19:50
Turns 43 this month; 4th in Boston in April
Des Linden USA 2:22:28
Last two marathons have been rough
Mao Uesugi Japan 2:22:29
Ran pb to finish 2nd in Osaka in January
Viola Cheptoo Kenya 2:22:44
2nd in debut last year
Emma Bates USA 2:23:18
Hasn’t run a bad marathon yet. 7th at Worlds
Caroline Rotich Kenya 2:23:22
Former Boston champ, but that was 7 years ago
Senbere Teferi Ethiopia 2:24:11
65:32 half pb; won NYC Half in March
Lindsay Flanagan USA 2:24:35
PR’d with 2:24 at Gold Coast in July
Dakotah Lindwurm USA 2:25:01
PR’d to win Grandma’s in June
Nell Rojas USA 2:25:57
Top American in Boston the last 2 years
Annie Frisbie USA 2:26:18 7th last year
Aliphine Tuliamuk USA 2:26:50
First marathon since Olympic DNF in ’21
Stephanie Bruce USA 2:27:47
10th, 11th, 10th in 3 NYC Marathons; retiring at end of year
Emily Durgin USA debut
Ran 67:54 at Houston Half in January
Sharon Lokedi Kenya debut
Former NCAA 10k champ at Kansas
Hellen Obiri Kenya debut
2-time 5k world champ has 64:22 half marathon pb

The Co-Favorites – Hellen Obiri and Gotytom Gebreslase

Yes, 32-year-old Hellen Obiri has never run a marathon. Yes, she’s facing the reigning world champion. But in the era of super shoes, the marathon isn’t as much of a question mark as it used to be and Hellen Obiri is one of the greatest talents in women’s distance running history. The two-time world 5k champ has enjoyed a great 2022 (64:22 pb at RAK half in February,  silver at Worlds in 10k in July, a win at the Great North Run over Peres Jepchirchir and Almaz Ayana in September) and a tremendous buildup according to her new coach Dathan Ritzenhein.

Hellen Obiri, 2019 World Cross Country, www.photorun.NET

With a 14:18.37 pb, she’s the 9th-fastest 5,000 woman in history. Prior to this year, only three women with a sub-14:20 5,000 pb had ever run a marathon. At the end of 2022, four different sub-14:20 women will have debuted at 26.2 this year. Two have already done so this fall. How did they do? Quite well. Almaz Ayana and Genzebe Dibaba ran 2:17:20 and 2:18:05 in Amsterdam.

Here’s the full list sub-14:20 women in world history and their marathon PBs.

Article continues below player.

The Fastest 5000 Women in History / Marathon PB
14:06.62 Letesenbet Gidey ETH N/A – Wait ‘til next month
2 14:11.15 Tirunesh Dibaba ETH 2:17:56
3 14:12.59 Almaz Ayana ETH 2:17:20
4 14:12.88 Meseret Defar ETH 2:23:33
5 14:12.98 Ejgayehu Taye ETH N/A
6 14:13.32 Gudaf Tsegay ETH N/A
7 14:15.24 Senbere Teferi ETH 2:24:11
8 14:15.41 Genzebe Dibaba ETH 2:18:05
9 14:18.37 Hellen Obiri KEN N/A

So three of the five have done quite well and it’s too early to conclude anything about Senbere Teferi as she’s still just 27 and in this year’s NYC field (more on her later).

EUGENE, OREGON – JULY 18: Gotytom Gebreslase of Team Ethiopia celebrates after winning gold in the Women’s Marathon on day four of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 18, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images for World Athletics)

There’s little reason to think Obiri won’t also be successful at the 26.2 distance. Yes, she’s a former medallist at Worlds in the 1500 (bronze in 2013) and it’s not every day that you see someone’s range extend from 1500 to 26.2, but the world record holder in the 1500 just ran 2:18:05 in her marathon debut. More importantly, Obiri has had more success at 10k, having World XC gold in 2019 and World 10,000 silver this year on the track, than 1500. Plus she has had great success in the half marathon where she has either won the race or run 64:51 or faster in all of her half marathons. And, the 2019 World XC course in Aarhus was super hilly, so the hills of NYC shouldn’t bother her.

If NYC was a flat and fast course, it would be surprising if Obiri didn’t run at least 2:18 (remember that’s what Emily Sisson just ran), so she’s worthy of co-favorite status.

The case for Gotytom Gebreslase as the co-favorite is simple – other than her debut in Osaka, she has yet to run a bad marathon. Three marathons finishes, two wins, and two 2:18s. Plus she’s younger than Obiri at 27. What would make us nervous about her prospects? 

Three things.

  1. While the talk at today’s press event was that her and training partner Senberi Teferi’s training has gone well, we have no data proving that as she hasn’t raced since Worlds.
  2. She’s coming back after a marathon at Worlds versus just a 10,000 for Obiri.
  3. Prior to moving to the roads, she wasn’t one of the world’s greatest talents like Obiri. Her track pbs are just 14:57/31:14 and her half marathon pb is 65:36. Obiri has run in the 64s in three of her five career half marathons and won the other two.

The third choice – Lonah Salpeter

Israel’s Lonah Salpeter is a very solid marathoner. She’s broken 2:20 four times, has a 2:17:45 pb, and in her last three marathons has run 2:18:54 for 5th at 2021 London, 2:18:45 for 2nd at 2022 Nagoya, and 2:20:18 for 3rd at Worlds. If she hadn’t been having her period at the Olympics last year, she very well might be an Olympic medallist and not Molly Seidel. 

But that kind of makes our point. If Molly Seidel was in this race, would you expect her to win it? No. She might win it if she caught some breaks but the reality is Gebreslase was two minutes better than Salpeter at Worlds. When Salpeter goes to a global championships, she’s hoping to medal whereas Obiri goes to one expecting to medal and hoping to win gold.

Not to mention, Salpeter’s half pb is 66:09.

If the top 3 falter – Edna Kiplagat

Edna Kiplagat‘s got a sub-2:20 marathon pb and in her last four marathons, she’s finished second at Boston (2019), 4th at Worlds (2019), won Boston (2021, she crossed the finish line 2nd but the winner is expected to be DQ’d for doping), and finished fourth in Boston (2022).

So she almost always runs a solid race but the problem is she turns 43 on November 15. Father Time is undefeated. A 43-year-old – even a great like the two-time world champ Edna Kiplagat – shouldn’t be winning a World Marathon Major.

The wild card – Senberi Teferi

Senberi Teferi is actually two spots further up the all-time 5000 than Hellen Obiri at 14:15.24, and won WC silver in 2015 in both XC and the 5000. That’s the good news. The bad news is she’s run two marathons and never finished higher than 7th or run faster than 2:24:11 (and she ran Dubai and Tokyo). 

That being said, sometimes it takes people a while to figure out the marathon. She does have a 65:32 half pb and has won all five of her road races this year including two in NY (United Airlines NYC Half 67:35, Mastercard New York Mini 10K in 30:53). Plus she’s had 2.5 years to get ready for this one as her last marathon was 2020 Tokyo.

Last year’s surprise – Viola Cheptoo

Viola (Lagat) Cheptoo, the sister of Bernard Lagat, was the big surprise last year, battling Peres Jepchirchir for the win and settling for second. She followed that up with a 6th in Boston. Both very respectable, but with her modest success at other distances it’s more likely New York was the best performance of her life rather than a stepping stone for victory this year.

The Americans

Keira D’Amato 2:19:12 pb
Age: 38

D’Amato is the feel-good story of 2022, running 2:19:12 to break the American record in January in Houston. Since then she was a late addition to the World Championship team, where she finished 8th in July. Then she went to Berlin as the #1 seed in September to try to lower her American record but could only manage a 2:21:48. (Emily Sisson then broke her American record in Chicago). D’Amato will toe the line on Sunday racing her 4th marathon of 2022 and third in the last four months. 

If 100%, D’Amato would be the favorite to be top American, but the question is how much does she have left in the tank? The plan all year was to try and go to Berlin, then bounce back and run New York, but she didn’t anticipate running the World Championships. D’Amato said her recovery from Berlin went “awesome” and “I feel like I’m playing with house money.” She’s definitely playing with house money, the only question is if she can leave with it.

Emma Bates: 2:23:18 pb
Age: 30

EUGENE, OREGON – JULY 18: Emma Bates, Sarah Hall and Keira D’Amato of Team United States react after competing in the Women’s Marathon on day four of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 18, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images for World Athletics)

Emma Bates was one spot ahead of D’Amato at the World Championships in July. She was second in Chicago last year (with a more modest 2:23:22). If D’Amato isn’t the top American, the  most likely candidate is Bates.

Des Linden: 2:22:38 pb (Boston), 2:25:55 record-eligible pb
Age: 39

Des Linden can never be counted out. Since her 4th place at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, Des hasn’t run a great marathon but she said she is running fluidly for the first time in over a year and ready to take advantage of the opportunity on Sunday.

Lindsay Flanagan: 2:24:35 pb
Age: 31

The 2015 Pan Am Games silver medallist comes into NY after running a 2:24:35 FTW in Australia in July.

Dakotah Lindwurm: 2:25:01 pb (Grandma’s)
Age: 27

Lindwurm, who has won Grandma’s each of the last two years, has come a long way from her college days as five years ago she was just 34th at the NCAA DII XC championships for Northern State – her career best finish at the DII level in XC.

Nell Rojas: 2:25:57 pb
Age: 34

Rojas has finished 6th and 10th in Boston the last two years as the top American. She comes into NY after finishing 3rd at the US 20k and 2nd in the US 10k.

Annie Frisbie: 2:26:18 pb
Age: 25

Frisbie had a great debut in New York last year (7th in 2:26:18) and recently was third at the US 10k road champs and 4th at the 20k.

Aliphine Tuliamuk: 2:26:50 pb
Age: 33

Tuliamuk’s 2:26:50 PR is very misleading as her best marathon, the 2020 Olympic Trials victory, came on a very difficult course. Whereas Olympic Trials runner-up Molly Seidel went on to get the bronze at the Olympics, Tuliamuk would drop out in Sapporo. But she deserves a pass as she gave birth to her daughter Zoe in January 2021. Tuliamuk is back running her first marathon since then and while she missed some time this fall with an ankle injury, she is dreaming of a podium finish.

Steph Bruce 2:27:47 pb
Age: 38

A veteran who has run really well in 2022, Bruce announced this will be her last year of competitive running. Bruce’s training partner Tuliamuk wants her to reconsider as Bruce most recently won her second USATF 10,000m road title. Bruce has two top-10s in New York but a relatively modest 2:27:47 pb. Could she lower that in her final competitive marathon?

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More: Men’s Preview: 2022 NYC Marathon Men’s Preview: Who Wins It & How Does Galen Rupp Do in NYC Debut?

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