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10 Greatest Marathon Moments of 2023: #2 Tigist makes history in Berlin

2: Tigist makes history in Berlin

Berlin has form when it comes to world records. Eight times this century, the men's race has seen a new world record, yet strangely, the women's record has only been set here once in the same time frame. But, like we've been told since we were all young, sometimes it's not about the quantity; the quality is what really matters!

Tigist Assefa returned to Berlin to defend her crown, knowing that with the emergence of Sifan Hassan over the preceding six months, there was a growing group of women aty the very top of women's maarathon running.

On a late summer's day in the German capital, Assefa cemented her placce as first among them, as she obliterated the world record and set a new bar for women's running that will take some beating.

From very early on, it looked like we were set to see something extraordinary. Assefa reached the 10km mark in a large group in a time that projected them to finish some 24 seconds below Brigid Kosgei's 2:14:04 set in Chicago in 2019.

The pace continued to quicken. By 20km, Assefa was beginning to distance herself from the rest of the field, and at halfway, a split of 1:06:21 was pointing to something in the 2:12 range. The question remained whether Assefa still had enough in the tank to keep this up.

The answer was that she had plenty.

By the 40km mark, her projected finish was hovering just outside 2:12, and her final push got her under that barrier to stop the clock at a scarcely believable 2:11:53.

Tigist Assefa hails the shoe that helped take her to glory in Berlin

As she crossed the finish line, she fell to her knees and then quickly removed her shoe to give it the attention she felt it deserved. It was a fascinating insight into the psyche of an elite athlete to see them celebrate a tool of their trade, having just achieved a time that until that point had been unthinkable.

As we enter an Olympic year, all eyes will be on Pari, and the potential for the world record holder to go toe=to-toe with the very best in the French capital.

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