China’s Bai Wins, Goucher 10th

      The World Championships women’s marathon has been completed Sunday morning in Berlin. It was 72 degrees and sunny at the start, 11:15 a.m. in Berlin, 4:15 a.m. CDT. A field of 71 made four 10K loops of a flat, twisty course through the city.

      China’s Xue Bai won in 2:25:15 and Japan’s Yoshimi Ozaki second in 2:25:25 and Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia third in 2:25:32. Kara Goucher was 10th in 2:27:48 after being among the leaders through about 18 miles into the 26.2-mile race.China’s Chunxiu Zhou, third in the 2008 Summer Olympics, was fourth in 2:25:39 meaning the top four runners were just 24 seconds apart. There were 60 finishers and 10 runners did not finish and one was disqualified. The top three earned $60,000, $30,000 and $20,000.

     Goucher, 31, finished just ahead of teammate Desiree Davila of Rochester Hills, Mich., 11th in 2:27:53, a personal best by more than three minutes. It was Goucher’s third marathon after having run 2:25:53 and 2:32:25, finishing third in New York City in 2008 and third in Boston in 2009. Of the remaining Americans, Tera Moody of Boulder, Colo., was 28th in 2:36:39; Paige Higgins of Littleton, Colo., was 30th in 2:37:11; and Zoila Gomez of Alamosa, Colo., was 51st in 2:42:49. Of the top seven finishers, five were from China or Japan.

     "My legs felt great, and I felt really relaxed.  It was great to have a loop course where my husband and coach could yell at me. The pace felt comfortable, and it felt like practice," Goucher told USA Track and Field.  "I had a lot of problems keeping my fluids down.  After the second personal fluid station, I started throwing up what I took in. I would start taking it, then a mile later, I’d throw up.
     "I started to cramp with 13K to go, and then the field started to surge. It wasn’t there. I just wasn’t good enough today. I thought I hydrated myself well leading up to the race. When the field made their break, my body wouldn’t go."

Complete results here.

       Goucher’s finish is the highest by an American woman in the World Championships marathon since Linda Somers finished seventh in 1995.

      At 41K, nearing the end, Bai, 20, of China broke away as Ozaki tried to hang on. Bai won China’s first world women’s marathon gold medal and helped her team to first place. The United States was fifth among nine teams, the best in U.S. history.

     It was about 2:14 into the race when the field was reduced to the top three finishers. By then Goucher was out of the video feed on Universal Sports.

     Russia’s Nailiya Yulamanova is the one who pressed the pace and opened things up, but she suffered a side stich and dropped back to eighth in 2:27:08. She won the 2009 Rotterdam Marathon in April. At halfway the leaders were at 1:13:39 with Goucher among 23 or so within a few seconds of each other. Different runners spent brief stays at the lead. Still a huge leader group 1:25 into the race. Ethiopia’s Dire Tune took a brief fall, but caught herself and got back up and on her way, finishing 23rd in 2:32:42.

     THIS REPORT FROM THE REUTERS NEWS SERVICE: Xue Bai became China’s first female marathon world champion after she raced into the lead three kilometers from the end to take gold under the Brandenburg Gate on Sunday.

Cheered on by tens of thousands of fans who lined the streets of central Berlin, 20-year-old Bai won with a time of two hours 25 minutes 15 seconds just ahead of Japan’s Yoshimi Ozaki and Aselefech Mergia from Ethiopia who held on for bronze.

The runners started off cautiously, with the temperature around 25 degrees celsius on a sunny morning in Berlin, before Rwandan Epiphanie Nyirabarame took the lead early on.

With world record holder Paula Radcliffe pulling out days before the start, and Germany’s London marathon winner Irina Mikitenko withdrawing following the death of her father, the race was wide open.

The pack, including the three medalists, quickly left the Rwandan behind as the runners meandered through the boulevards of Berlin and just after the halfway mark the fight was on.

Russian Nailya Yulamanova decided to break away at the 30K mark of the 42K race, leading a group of four runners, but her lead was short-lived as she fell back, visibly suffering from the increased pace.

Ozaki and Bai then dropped Mergia with three kilometers to go.

Bia is pictured below from Associated Press.
  Xue Bai