Sevilla, Spain — Ethiopian runners stole the show at the 38th Zürich Maratón de Sevilla, delivering some outstanding performances at the 2023 World Athletics Elite Label Road Race competition on Sunday, 19 February. Kenya’s Jackline Chelal and Gadisa Birhanu of Ethiopia emerged victorious in the women’s and men’s races, respectively, both breaking the tape in impressive times.
Chelal crossed the finish line in 2:20:29 to sit only behind the world’s best time of the year set by Hitomi Niiya last month, Birhanu broke the tape at 2:04:59, breaking his previous best by almost five minutes and setting a new world lead over one of the flattest courses in the world.
Both athletes were part of a dominant showing by the East African countries, which saw Ethiopian runners take all three spots on the men’s podium, while Kenyan runners completed the women’s top three.
Chelal of Kenya emerged as the winner of the women’s race, finishing with a personal best of 2:20:29. Her previous personal best of 2:29:22 was set in Madrid in September 2021. Ethiopians Aberu Ayana Mulisa and Urge Diro Soboka completed the podium, finishing with personal bests of 2:21:54 and 2:23:05, respectively.
Meanwhile, Birhanu won the men’s race in a world-leading time of 2:04:59, improving his previous personal best of 2:09:25 set in Montreal in September 2022. Kebede Tulu Wami and Mekuant Ayenew Gebre also set personal bests, finishing second and third with times of 2:05:19 and 2:05:24, respectively.
Five women and six men bettered their national records, while eight women and 17 men achieved Paris 2024 qualifying marks. Additionally, seven of the top 10 times, including the top four for 2023, were set in Seville on Sunday on the men’s side.
The flat loop-course with insignificant start-finish separation made for perfect running conditions, with 8283 athletes completing the 42.195 km race, an increase from last year’s 7561 finishers.
Both Chelal and Birhanu Shumie were able to take advantage of the ideal conditions to set personal bests and paced their respective fields to some of the top marks for the season.
Other notable female athletes who set personal bests or national records in the top 10 included Citali Moscote of Mexico, who finished 4th in 2:24:53, Deborah Schöneborn of Germany in 2:25:52 for 5th, and Hanne Verbruggen of Belgium in 2:26:32 for 7th.
Alia Mohamed of the United Arab Emirates and Alisa Vainio of Finland set national records with their times of 2:27:08 and 2:27:26, respectively.
Israel’s Gashau Ayale set a new national record with his time of 2:05:33 in fourth place, which was also a personal best. Other notable athletes who set personal bests included Bethwel Chumba of Kenya in 2:05:42, compatriot Enock Onchari (2:05:47), and Mulugeta Asefa of Ethiopia (2:06:07).
Meanwhile, Cristhian Pacheco of Peru and Hector Garibay Flores of Bolivia set new national records with their times of 2:07:38 and 2:07:44, respectively.
In the meantime, a total of eight women and 17 men achieved the Paris 2024 qualifying marks, underlining the calibre of talent on display and the ideal racing conditions.
Men’s Marathon Final:
- Gadisa SHUMIE (ETH) – 2:04:59
- Kebede TULU (ETH) – 2:05:19
- Mekuant AYENEW (ETH) – 2:05:24
- Gashau AYALE (ISR) – 2:05:33
- Bethwel KIBET (KEN) – 2:05:42
- Enock ONCHARI (KEN) – 2:05:47
Women’s Marathon Final:
- Jackline CHELAL (KEN) – 2:20:29
- Ayana MULISA (ETH) – 2:21:54
- Urge DIRO (ETH) – 2:23:05
- Citlali CRISTIAN MOSCOTE (MEX) – 2:24:53
- Deborah SCHÖNEBORN (GER) – 2:25:52
Complete results here