In national team debut, Sexton places 13th to top Canadian women in world marathon

·3 min read
Leslie Sexton led a big chase group during the women's world marathon and finished 13th in her national team debut on Monday at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Ore. (Aleksandra Szmigiel/Pool/Reuters - image credit)
Leslie Sexton led a big chase group during the women's world marathon and finished 13th in her national team debut on Monday at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Ore. (Aleksandra Szmigiel/Pool/Reuters - image credit)

A stubborn, never give up mentality propelled Canada's Leslie Sexton to a better-than-expected 13th-place finish in the women's marathon on Monday at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Ore.

At 35, the native of Markham, Ont., reached the finish line in two hours 28 minutes 52 seconds, 17-100ths of a second shy of her personal best from the Philadelphia Marathon last Nov. 21.

"It's been a long road to get here," Sexton, who now lives in Vancouver, told Athletics Canada of her first national team appearance. "Don't quit on yourself, be too stubborn to give up. It pays off eventually.

"I thought top 20 was possible with a great day [of racing]. My last two laps, I think, were my fastest."

Sexton said she led a big chase group for a while and gave it her best after the field separated around the 26-kilometre mark of the 42.2 km race.

A month before her victory in Philadelphia, Sexton was awarded the national women's 10K road title in Toronto after elite race winner Sarah Inglis of Scotland was ruled ineligible because the Langley, B.C., resident isn't a Canadian citizen.

WATCH | Sexton adds 10K victory to Canadian 5K title:

Kinsey Middleton, who lives in Idaho but holds dual citizenship as her mother was born in Guelph, Ont., was 26th of 32 finishers (2:32.56), while Quebec's Elissa Legault was 27th (2:37.35).

Gebreslase completes marathon sweep for Ethiopia

Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia patiently tucked behind her Kenyan rival until late in the race before surging ahead and sprinting to victory in a championship record 2:18:11 on a fast and flat course. She held off Judith Jeptum Korir, who did most of the work late in the race, by nine seconds.

Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, the Kenyan-born runner who represents Israel, earned the bronze medal. Sara Hall led a strong showing by the Americans with a fifth-place finish.

It's now back-to-back wins for Ethiopia in the world marathon on the streets of Eugene and Springfield. Tamirat Tola won the day before in a championship-record time as well.

Korir and Gebreslase pulled away from the field around the 27-kilometres mark (17 miles) and soon after stretched the gap to nearly a minute. Korir appeared to grow more and more agitated as she did most of the work with Gebreslase content to tuck in behind her. Korir kept motioning for Gebreslase to help set the blistering pace.

The Ethiopian runner stayed put until a downhill section with about six minutes remaining in the race. She quickly surged ahead and sped away.

On a crisp 10 C morning, Gebreslase broke the championship record of 2:20:57 set by Paula Radcliffe of Britain in 2005.

Late replacement

The lead pack took off quickly and left many in the 40-runner field behind early on. The race changed complexion around the 19 km mark when defending champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya dropped back and soon after dropped out.

American women's marathon record holder Keira D'Amato was eighth. She was a late replacement for Molly Seidel, who captured a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

Seidel recently posted on Instagram she was focusing on her mental health and healing her hip.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the 1984 Olympic marathon winner, started the field on their way along the three-loop course.

The racers cruised through a scenic route that crossed over the Willamette River and by Pre's Trail, a bark running trail that honours University of Oregon track and field icon Steve Prefontaine.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting