After my long run yesterday and two sets of tennis, I was really excited to catch the live broadcast of the Women’t marathon of the 12th IAAF World Championsips in Athletics on tv.

I had been too busy to watch previous telecasts because of work but I was following how Jamaica’s Usain Bolt completed a 100m and 200m double in record times.  I also heard on the news how Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva lost for the first time in five years in the women’s pole vault.

After Kenya finished 1-2 in the men’s marathon with Kirui and Mutai finishing in 2:06:54 and 2:07:48, respectively, and 3 Japanese finishing in the top 20, the last day saw marathon actions over at the distaff side.

I caught the race nearing the halfway mark at the scenic Berlin course that included the site of what was formerly the Berlin Wall.  At this point there were about 20 women in the lead pack with none about to give in.  It got more interesting after a few more kilometers when that number went down to 10 and after kilometer 30, the battle was now being fought by runners from Russia, Ethiopia, Japan and China.

Nailya Yulamanova of Russia started to fade later which left the race to the other three frontrunners.  But in the last 2 km, it was Xue Bai who increased her speed and saw no more challenges from Japan’s Yoshimi Ozaki and Ethiopia’s Aselefech Mergia.

Joy, was how Bai described how she felt after her triumph--Photo Belga

"Joy" was how Bai described her emotions in one word after her historic triumph. (Photo Belga)

Bai, who at 20 has run 11 marathons and says she still has a lot to improve considering marathon heavyweights were absent for this year’s staging of the biennial competition, claimed her country’s first World marathon championship by registering a season best 2:25:15.  Ozaki crossed the Brandenberg Gate finish line next 10 seconds later, followed by the first Ethiopian marathon podium finisher Mergia.

There were about 10 entries who did not finish so the crowd and the camera crew followed experienced Romanian marathoner Nuta Olaru, who earlier was part of the lead pack but was obviously hurting, being approached by a medical team on one occasion to check if she would quit or finish.  She finished last in just over 3 hours but many admired her fighting spirit.

China, with its 1-4-5 finish, won the team gold, followed by Japan (who had 2 other finishers in the top 15) and then Russia.  As an Asian, I am so proud of these Chinese and Japanese runners.  I hope the day I see  someone from the Philippines run among them will soon come.

Years ago, I would not have had the patience of sitting through a televised marathon race with this interest and excitement.  But after running the marathon myself, I now have greater respect for these women and all the runners of the distance in giving their best in training for and running the marathon.