After Silver Success in London, Tirunesh Dibaba Is Eyeing Chicago Marathon

After Silver Success in London, Tirunesh Dibaba Is Eyeing Chicago Marathon

On a similarly flat course as Chicago Marathon (for which Paula Radcliffe is record holder), Tirunesh Dibaba finished second at April’s London Marathon, running in 2:17:56.

By Sam Dodge (IAAF) |

LONDON, UK―From the roads to the track – and back again – there seems little that can quell the success of the lady we have come to regard as the queen of distance running: Tirunesh Dibaba.

The 31-year-old Ethiopian claimed her sixth world medal in the women’s 10,000m final on Saturday night, crowning a glorious return to the domain she once ruled with such majesty.

But for her, 2017 is just getting going.

At a press conference in central London on Monday, Chicago Marathon race director Carey Pinkowski announced this year’s race will feature Tirunesh Dibaba, gold medalist in the women’s 10,000m at both the London 2012 and Beijing 2008 Olympics, and the Ethiopian said she intends to break records.

“I’ve always been building to marathons,” she said. “I want to use my 10k foot speed and make history (in Chicago).”

The course record in Chicago is 2:17:18, set by Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe in October, 2002. On a similarly flat course, Tirunesh Dibaba, 32, finished second at April’s London Marathon, running in 2:17:56.

That was her first-ever marathon. The potential is tantalizing.

“We want records set here,” said Pinkowski.

“Paula Radcliffe, Joan [Benoit] Samuelson,” he said, the latter referring to the first female Olympic marathon champion, “Tirunesh is on a different level. We want the best runners in Chicago on October 8th.”

Baby-faced destroyer

For over a decade, ever since her emergence on to the world stage at the IAAF World Championships Paris 2003, where she took gold over 5000m at the age of 17, Tirunesh Dibaba’s story has inspired runners all over the world.

On Saturday, she ran 31:02.69 for silver behind teammate Almaz Ayana, who won easily in 30:16.32.

“It was a very fast race,” Tirunesh Dibaba said afterwards. “If I had followed (Almaz), I would have faded.”

The lead-up to Saturday’s race was shrouded in mystery. Tirunesh Dibaba and Almaz Ayana were the favorites yet neither had run the 10,000m competitively in 2017.

“This was my first race of 2017,” said Almaz Ayana. “I’ve been sick this year and didn’t expect it.”

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Tirunesh Dibaba, Chicago Marathon