Sifan Hassan ran one of the most dramatic races in London Marathon history to win the 2023 edition.
The track superstar confessed before the race that she had often questioned why she had chosen to swap her spikes for road shoes as she prepared for her 26.2-mile debut.
And she had cause again to wonder why she was out there during the race when a hip pain began to trouble her after 5km of the race.
Up against Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir and last year’s winner Yalmzerf Yehualaw, Hassan could not afford for injury to hamper her efforts to battle with some of the best marathon runners on the planet.
The Ethiopian-born Dutch athlete fell way off the pace as she felt her left hip, and admitted afterwards that she considered dropping out.
“I was sure I was going to stop somewhere,” she said. “Maybe I’m born to always have drama.”
Drama she certainly delivered. Having dealt with the pain – and a number of novice drink station issues that included taking on too much fluid at one stop and then almost missing another bottle late in the race – Hassan knuckled down and set about catching the group of leaders.
“I didn’t practise any drink (strategies) before this marathon,” she said. “I had Ramadan, so I didn’t know how to drink. I was focused on the running. I saw the athletes going (to the drinks table) and I thought, ‘What the hell are they doing?’ Then I realised I had to get a drink too.”
A deficit of 28 seconds at 25km was reduced to just three by the time she reached the next 5km marker. She lost ground again thanks to her second drinks mishap, but was soon back in the hunt, which spelled bad news for the rest of the women given the speed she possesses that has carried her to two Olympic track gold medals.
It proved decisive as she turned on the afterburners on The Mall to win in 2:18:33, three seconds ahead of Alemu Megertu. Jepchirchir was third in 2:18:53.
“I often thought, ‘how stupid to run a marathon’, yet here I am, I won one of the greatest marathons,” said Hassan afterwards.
The 30-year-old announced she will return to the 400m oval for this summer’s world championships, but said she will aim for either the Bank of America Chicago or TCS New York City Marathon in the fall.
The rest of the women’s marathon elite have been put on notice. Sifan Hassan doesn’t like the marathon, but she’s pretty good at it.