Steamy conditions in Doha have made a bit of a mockery of the women's marathon at the World Athletics Championships.
Steamy conditions in Doha have made a bit of a mockery of the women's marathon at the World Athletics Championships.

Marathon carnage as heat takes drastic toll

KENYA'S Ruth Chepngetich has overcome extreme heat and humidity to win the world championships midnight marathon in a gruelling test of survival where nearly a third of the 70 starters failed to finish.

Chepngetich, who has clocked the third fastest women's marathon of all time, didn't come close to matching that in Doha's punishing conditions.

Her winning time of two hours, 32 minutes, 43 seconds was the slowest ever to win the world championships.

Still, it was enough for comfortable victory over Bahrain's defending world champion Rose Chelimo, who settled for silver more than a minute adrift.

Namibia's Helalia Johannes took bronze, and unheralded Australian Rochelle Rogers finished 35th in 3.05:12.

 

Finland runner Alisa Vainio is taken away in a wheelchair.
Finland runner Alisa Vainio is taken away in a wheelchair.

With the first gold medal of the championships up for grabs, the women readied to tackle a steamy 42.195km floodlit course along the waterfront of the city's famous Corniche promenade, just before midnight.

The start tempered the sting of a searing sun but with the temperature sitting at 32.7C and the humidity index at 73 per cent, conditions were on the limit of what the IAAF said were allowable.

Despite assurances athlete welfare was top priority, some felt the race shouldn't have been run.

A distressed Sviatlana Kudzelich found the going tough.
A distressed Sviatlana Kudzelich found the going tough.

"The humidity kills you," said Volha Mazuronak of Belarus.

"There is nothing to breathe. I thought I wouldn't finish.

"It's disrespect towards the athletes."

The runners set out on the first of six laps of the 7km circuit with Authorised Neutral Athlete Sardana Trofimova of Russia setting the early pace. But by the end of the first loop it was Chepngetich and Chelimo leading.

 

Ruth Chepngetich took the title but it wasn’t easy.
Ruth Chepngetich took the title but it wasn’t easy.

At 10km, Chepngetich upped the pace, blowing apart the field but made her move too early and she was reeled back in by the chasing pack that included teammates Edna Kiplagat and Visiline Jepkesho.

At the midway mark the gold medal battle had been reduced to a group of Chepngetich, Kiplagat, Jepkesho, Chelimo and Namibia's Helalia Johannes.

Behind them the carnage began to mount as runner after runner succumbed to the brutal conditions.

With the final lap bell ringing, Chepngetich made a devastating move and sprinted to a decisive victory.

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Aussie runner Rochelle Rodgers suffered in the conditions.
Aussie runner Rochelle Rodgers suffered in the conditions.
News Corp Australia


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