Hopes were high when Kenyan women marathoners lined up in the World 42km race yesterday morning.
But the expectations for a medal in the long-distance race faded away after 32 kilometres of the marathon when leaders pulled away.
Kenya's two medal prospects in the women’s marathon - Tokyo Marathon champion Rosemary Wanjiru and former 3000m World Youth champion Selly Chepyego Kaptich finished a distant sixth and seventh respectively in a heartbreaking performance.
Amane Shankule led an Ethiopian one-two finish in the world marathon, timing 2:24:23 in the road race that finished at the Heroes’ Square in Budapest.
From the start to the finish, Ethiopian bigwigs showcased their resilience in a race run under sweltering temperatures.
Defending champion in the women’s marathon Gotytom Gebreslase (2:24:34), was relegated by her compatriot Shankule, to a silver winner.
Wanjiru and Kipyego had stuck in the leading pack that had four Ethiopian marathoners comprising the gold and silver medallists as well as Tsehay Gemechu who later dropped.
Kenyan-born Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel who won bronze last year in Eugene was also in contention until after 32km when the Ethiopian quartet that was running side by side made a decisive move.
By 32km the lead group was down to Salpeter, Wanjiru, and the Ethiopian leaders.
The April 2023 winner of the Enschede Marathon Shyline Jepkorir was in the medal hunt but did not finish the marathon.
The Kenyan trio had expressed fears of high temperatures in Budapest during the world marathon.
“We are aware that it will not be easy in the marathon but we have no choice but to battle it out for the medals. The high temperatures here in Budapest will affect every athlete. We had prepared well,” Selly Kaptich had told the media before yesterday’s women’s marathon.
The temperatures were 23 degrees Celsius when the race started at 7am Hungarian time.
Morocco’s Fatima Ezzahra Gardadi ran from behind to overpower Wanjiru, Salpeter, and Ethiopia's Yalemzerf Yehualaw, as she vied for a spot on the podium. Eventually, she surprisingly won a bronze medal behind Shankule and Gotytom. Salpeter finished fourth.