Race Recap: Men's Championships | Women's Championships
Results: Men's Results | Women's Results
What To Expect: MarathonGuide.com's Preview |
IAAF's Men's Preview | IAAF's Women's Preview
Race/Athlete Profiles: The Men | The Women
Facts/Figures/Lists: Men's Past Athlete Performances | Women's Past Athlete Performances | Men's Starting Lists | Women's Starting Lists
Extras: Video Coverage | Course Map
2009 World Championships Women's Marathon IAAF Preview
by Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
With injury sidelining the two fastest marathoners of the year, the women's race to the World Marathon crown will be even more wide open than earlier anticipated.
Just a few days ago the German team was dealt a huge blow when Irina Mikitenko, the two-time winner in London and the current world leader at 2:22:11, withdrew from the race following the death of her father. Earlier this summer, Briton Mara Yamauchi, who finished second to Mikitenko in London, clocking 2:23:12, also withdrew due to injury.
Their departure puts the focus on World record holder and 2005 champion Paula Radcliffe, whose start is still uncertain. The Briton hasn't race since her 2:23:56 victory in New York last November, but if she decides to race, she'll certainly be a factor.
A veteran who has displayed strong form this season is Japan's Yoko Shibui, who already has fond memories of the streets of Berlin. In 2004 the 30-year-old dipped under the magical 2:20 barrier with her 2:19:41 victory in the city's fall Marathon. The run firmly places her in the No. 7 spot all time. In January she ran 2:23:42 to take the victory in Osaka, the year's third fastest performance.
She'll lead a traditionally strong Japanese team which includes Yoshimi Ozaki (2:23:30 PB, '08), Yuri Kano (2:24:27 PB, '08), and Tomo Morimoto (2:26:29 '09).
Ethiopia also brings a solid team, lead by Bezunesh Bekele, this year's Dubai Marathon winner in 2:24:02. As a follow-up, she finished fourth in Boston and has a career best of 2:23:09 from Dubai last year. Atsede Bayisa, this year's Paris winner with a PB 2:24:42, will make her big meet debut over the distance. The most experienced is Dire Tune, the 2008 winner in Boston who returned to finish second this year. Her 2:24:40 personal best came with her victory in Houston in 2008. Aselefech Mergia. Notably, no Ethiopian woman has ever won a medal at the World Championships.
Kenyan hopes rest primarily with Helen Kirop, a 2:25 runner who was third in Doha and fifth in Boston this year, and third in Berlin last fall. Martha Komu, the 2008 Paris winner in 2:25:33 is the Kenyan No. 2.
Unlike the men's contest, the pool of potential medallists truly does span the globe. American Kara Goucher, the 10,000m bronze medallist in Osaka, has finished second in each of her two marathons, in New York last fall in 2:25:53, and last April in Boston. She tuned up with a strong 1:08:05 Half Marathon in Chicago earlier this month and looks to be on target to collect the first US medal since 1983.
Osaka Silver medallist Zhou Chunxiu, who followed up with Olympic bronze at home last year, is threat based upon big race credentials, but in her one marathon this year, she was a distant 12th in London clocking 2:29:02.
Svetlana Zakharova has been Russia's most consistent marathoner over the past decade. Her 2:21:31 PB dates back to 2002, but she's clocked 2:25:06 this year, and could be a medal threat as well in this, her third World championships appearance.