Ethiopia’s Amane Beriso Shankule Wins World Marathon Title to Cap an Amazing Year

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Amane Beriso Shankule capped an amazing 12 months of running to power away from her Ethiopian compatriots and win the 2023 World Championships marathon in 2:24:23. Defending world champion Gotytom Gebreslase took silver 11 seconds back in 2:24:34 as Morocco’s Fatima Ezzahra Gardadi prevented the Ethiopian sweep by nabbing bronze in 2:25:17. Last year’s bronze medalist Lonah Salpeter was 4th and 2022 London champ Yalemzerf Yehualaw 5th.

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Lindsay Flanagan earned top American honors in 9th in 2:27:47 as Keira D’Amato, who broke the American record in the half marathon last month in Australia, struggled with pain in her upper right leg just after halfway and wound up 17th in 2:31:35. The third American, Susanna Sullivan, was 58th in 2:44:24.

Lindsay Flanagan celebrates her 9th place at Worlds (Kevin Morris photo)

The race

On a warm, sunny morning in Budapest (75 degrees, 73% humidity, 66 dew point at halfway of the 7 a.m. start), the field started cautiously, with the 26-woman lead pack passing halfway in 74:29. Just after halfway, Tokyo Marathon champion Rosemary Wanjiru of Kenya surged and the real racing began. By 25k the lead pack was down to 14 and no longer included any of the Americans.

By 30k the lead pack was down to nine and included all four Ethiopians in the race. Beriso was pushing the pace and by 33k it was a sea of green at the front, as the Ethiopians had pulled away from everyone else, running 1-2-3-4. That would not last long, however, as Gemechu fell back and, seeing the medals running away from her, stopped to a walk and dropped out while in fourth place, grabbing at her side.

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Going over the Széchenyi Chain Bridge just before the 36km mark (2:03:47), Beriso attacked and opened up a gap on her remaining Ethiopian compatriots. Yehualaw tried to stay close but by 37k, she had begun to slow and Beriso’s lead reached 17 seconds. She would not be challenged the rest of the way en route to gold.  

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The question now was whether Ethiopia could repeat Kenya’s podium sweep from the 2011 Worlds. Just before 39km, Gebreslase passed a fading Yehualaw to move into second. Could she hold on to bronze? 

No. Just before 41k, Gardadi came by and all Yehualaw could do was flail her arms as Gardadi pulled away for bronze.

Yehualaw would make it to the finish line nearly a minute behind Gardadi and also get passed by Salpeter. 

Beriso’s methodical grinding down of the field over the second half was particularly impressive given the heat, which rose into the 80s by the finish. Starting at 20k, Beriso’s 5k splits were 17:16-16:36-16:08-16:15 before running her final 2.2k in 7:33. Her 10k split of 32:33 from 30 to 40k was 2:17:20 marathon pace.

Analysis and interviews below results

2023 Women’s Marathon Worlds Full Results

1 Amane Beriso SHANKULE ETH 2:24:23 SB
2 Gotytom GEBRESLASE ETH 2:24:34 SB
3 Fatima Ezzahra GARDADI MAR 2:25:17
4 Lonah Chemtai SALPETER ISR 2:25:38 SB
5 Yalemzerf YEHUALAW ETH 2:26:13
6 Rosemary WANJIRU KEN 2:26:42
7 Selly Chepyego KAPTICH KEN 2:27:09
8 Nazret WELDU ERI 2:27:23 SB
9 Lindsay FLANAGAN USA 2:27:47
10 Dolshi TESFU ERI 2:28:54
11 Melat Yisak KEJETA GER 2:29:04
12 Giovanna EPIS ITA 2:29:10
13 Mizuki MATSUDA JPN 2:29:15
14 Rebecca CHEPTEGEI UGA 2:29:34 SB
15 Natasha WODAK CAN 2:30:09 SB
16 Lisa WEIGHTMAN AUS 2:30:50
17 Keira D’AMATO USA 2:31:35 SB
18 Mercyline CHELANGAT UGA 2:31:40
19 Rika KASEDA JPN 2:31:53 SB
20 Sayaka SATO JPN 2:31:57 SB
21 Doreen CHESANG UGA 2:32:11
22 Alisa VAINIO FIN 2:32:14
23 Ümmü KIRAZ TUR 2:33:23 PB
24 Nóra SZABÓ HUN 2:33:28
25 Rkia EL MOUKIM MAR 2:33:54
26 Moira STEWARTOVÁ CZE 2:34:02
27 Meritxell SOLER ESP 2:34:38
28 Gulshanoi SATAROVA KGZ 2:35:06 SB
29 Silvia ORTIZ ECU 2:35:09
30 Natasha COCKRAM GBR 2:35:34 SB
31 Khishigsaikhan GALBADRAKH MGL 2:35:38 SB
32 Zhixuan LI CHN 2:35:48
33 Bojana BJELJAC CRO 2:35:49 SB
34 Citlali CRISTIAN MOSCOTE MEX 2:36:03
35 Zaida RAMOS PER 2:36:23
36 Militsa MIRCHEVA BUL 2:36:45 SB
37 Clementine MUKANDANGA RWA 2:37:09 SB
38 Marta GALIMANY ESP 2:37:10 SB
39 Hanne VERBRUGGEN BEL 2:37:15
40 Monika JACKIEWICZ POL 2:37:18
41 Sarah KLEIN AUS 2:37:31
42 Mokulubete Blandina MAKATISI LES 2:37:49 SB
43 Isobel BATT-DOYLE AUS 2:37:53
44 Risper GESABWA MEX 2:38:29
45 Irvette VAN ZYL RSA 2:38:32 SB
46 Loreta KANČYTĖ LTU 2:38:52
47 Valdilene DOS SANTOS SILVA BRA 2:39:58
48 Deshun ZHANG CHN 2:40:17
49 Alina ARMAS NAM 2:40:49 SB
50 Julia MAYER AUT 2:41:54
51 Rosa CHACHA ECU 2:42:00
52 Andreia HESSEL BRA 2:42:23 SB
53 Nicolasa CONDORI PER 2:42:25
54 Nina CHYDENIUS FIN 2:42:36
55 Fortunate CHIDZIVO ZIM 2:43:28
56 Argentina VALDEPEÑAS CERNA MEX 2:43:35
57 Katalin KOVÁCS-GARAMI HUN 2:44:02
58 Susanna SULLIVAN USA 2:44:24
59 Karen EHRENREICH DEN 2:44:46
60 Solange JESUS POR 2:45:08
61 Sasha GOLLISH CAN 2:45:09 SB
62 Aydee LOAYZA HUAMAN PER 2:45:40
63 Neja KRŠINAR SLO 2:46:55 SB
65 Chun-Yu TSAO TPE 2:55:33

QT: What a year for Amane Beriso Shankule

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A year ago it was okay if you didn’t know who Amane Beriso Shankule was. She had debuted in an impressive 2:20:48 in Berlin for second way back in 2016 and won the second-tier Mumbai Marathon in 2:24:51 in 2020. Then thanks to COVID she did not run a race from January 2020 to August 2022.

Last year, she went to Mexico City on August 28, and ran an impressive 2:25:05 for the win at altitude. But that didn’t presage what would come next, a stunning 2:14:58 win in Valencia in December, in a field where she was expected to be filler for Letsenbet Gidey’s marathon debut. Instead, she gave the world record a scare herself.

Beriso took second in Boston this April, and now is the world champion. With her 2:14 pedigree and success in warm conditions in the past (Mumbai), today’s win wasn’t a huge surprise, just a validation of where she is in the sport right now.

QT: The Ethiopians handled the heat much better this time

Though Gotytom Gebreslase won this race a year ago, the rest of the Ethiopians have had an awful track record in recent global championship marathons as seven of Ethiopia’s nine entrants DNF’d between the 2019 Worlds, 2021 Olympics, and 2022 Worlds. Things were much different today as Ethiopia was running 1-2-3-4 late into the race, and while Gemechu and Yehualaw would fade, a 1-2-5 finish is about as dominant as you can get at this level.

QT: Worlds is a different type of marathon

While we’ve seen some crazy stuff in the marathon of late, including Daniel Do Nascimento lying down on the street while leading last year’s New York City Marathon, Tsehay Gemechu of Ethiopia dropping out of Worlds while in fourth place showed the race has a different calculus for many of the top entrants. Worlds is something they are doing not as their #1 priority. It is medal or bust for some of them, and as soon as that’s off the table, they are already thinking about their next marathon.

QT: Lindsay Flanagan knew a patient gameplan would serve her well in the heat

Flanagan was with the lead pack at halfway but got dropped when Wanjiru surged to break up the pack. She ran a smart second half of the race, however, managing the heat well and moving up from 13th at 30k to 9th at the finish. Flanagan told herself that top five would have been a “great” day and top 10 would be a “pretty good” day and was quite happy to take 9th.

This was a big improvement on Flanagan’s previous Worlds appearance (37th in London in 2017) and Flanagan was pleased with the progress she made from New York last fall, where she finished 11th and struggled over the final 10k. Flanagan felt that Worlds, with its warm weather and lack of pacemakers, would be great prep for the Olympic Trials in Orlando in February and will head there on a high.

“That was the goal: don’t do what you did in New York, fartlek back and forth,” Flanagan said. “And I think it paid off.”

QT: Keira D’Amato was disappointed to fade over the second half, but battled on to finish for her kids despite pain

D’Amato finishes worlds (Kevin Morris photo)

D’Amato entered Worlds with a realistic shot at the medal given her 66:39 half last month and felt good through halfway. But on the third 10k loop, D’Amato’s upper right leg/hip – an occasional problem area for her – began to give her issues and she had to shift into survival mode.

“I felt like I couldn’t pick up my right leg,” D’Amato said. “…That was one of the more tough ones I did…I went in wanting to compete and show what I can do and compete on the world stage, and when you have to shift your goal to just finishing, that’s tough.”

D’Amato said she considered dropping out during “every step” over the final 20k, but thought of her kids – watching in the early-morning hours back home in Virginia – and wanted to make sure she finished the race for them.

“I just wanted to show ‘em, if you can keep going, you do it,” D’Amato said.

QT: Surprise bronze for Fatima Gardadi

Gardadi was an unknown before today outside of Morocco. A former national champ in Morocco at 5000 (with a 15:24 5k) she moved to the marathon last year and won the Marrakesh Marathon (2:25) and followed that up by winning Rabat this year (2:25). But running 2:25 in the heat today at Worlds off a slow pace was a whole new level.

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