One day after the 2023 World Athletics Championships women’s marathon, the men took to the 26.2-mile course to determine who would be the 2023 world marathon champion.
That accolade was earned by 23-year-old Victor Kiplangat from Uganda.
While it is quite commonplace to see East African runners dominate the marathon on the international stage, it has actually been 10 years since another Ugandan runner won the Marathon World Championships for men.
In 2013, Stephen Kiprotich became the first Ugandan runner to become a world marathon champion.
It’s been a decade waiting for a repeat honor for the country of Uganda.
However, today, Sunday, August 27, 2023, the young marathon runner Victor Kiplangat finally took home another world marathon gold medal for Uganda by becoming the men’s world marathon champion at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Kiplangat’s victory in the marathon was actually the second gold medal for Uganda at the 2023 World Athletics Championships, after fellow Ugandan compatriot Joshua Cheptegei won the men’s 10,000m race last Sunday.
In a post-race interview, Victor Kiplangat expressed how much of an honor and sense of pride he felt representing Uganda and bringing home a gold medal on the world stage for not only himself, but also his home country.When asked how important it was to him for a Ugandan man to once again be a world marathon champion, Kiplangat’s face lit up.
Kiplangat described the feeling of winning the 2023 World Athletics Championships men’s marathon gold medal by noting the following:
“It means a lot to me that the restoration has come to Uganda. Because it has been my dream that one day I would dominate this race the way that I did it last year [at the Commonwealth Games] believing that even this year I could do something to become a world champion.”
Although still very young, the 23-year-old Victor Kiplangat won the 2022 Commonwealth Games marathon and ran a tactical race today in Budapest, finishing strong with a time of 2:08:53.
Kiplangat has only been running marathons since 2021, so he is certainly in his early marathon career relative to some of his competitors at today’s men’s marathon world championship.
This makes Kiplangat’s victory all the more impressive when you consider the experience of many of his fellow racers at the 2023 World Marathon Championships
Although Victor Kiplangat has a marathon personal record of 2:05:09—which is almost four minutes faster than his 2:08:53 finish time in the 2023 Marathon World Championships today—Kiplangat’s winning time of 2:08:53 was impressive given the hot, sunny, humid weather conditions during the race.
After the race, the victorious world marathon champion told reporters:
“The day was actually good for me; the day was my day. God has favored me. This is the dream I have been dreaming,” said Victor Kiplangat in a soft-spoken voice yet one that was clearly filled with emotion and pride. “I really thank God that he gave me this opportunity to win this gold medal today.”
As would be expected from the men’s world marathon champion, Kiplangat ran a strategic race today, sticking up front with the lead pack throughout the entire race yet exercising judicious use of his energy by holding back from unnecessary surges thrown out by some of his competitors.
For example, the race kicked off with a power move by Mongolian marathon runner, Ser-Od Bat-Ochir, who charged right from the starting gun at a 2:06 marathon pace in the first five kilometers.
Instead of letting his ego or inexperience get the better of him and match pace with the aggressive start from Ser-Od Bat-Ochir, Victor Kiplangat held himself back and stuck with the main pack.
This strategy worked well because the main pack eventually caught up to and passed Ser-Od Bat-Ochir of Mongolia, who ultimately dropped out of the race, despite it being his 11th World Championships marathon.
(This just goes to show that experience isn’t everything when it comes to having a stellar marathon race performance or having a chance to win the marathon‘s world championships!)
It seems that Ser-Od Bat-Ochir may have injured or irritated his hamstring in the race, as footage shows him rubbing his hamstring after he pulled out from the marathon.
As with the 2023 World Athletics Championships women’s marathon, the Ethiopian men had a strong showing in the men’s world marathon race, which was something that Kiplangat was keenly aware of.
Reportedly, he noted that he was worried about going head to head with the top Ethiopian men marathoners in the race, such as the defending marathon world champion, Tamirat Tola, and Leul Gebresilase, who has run a 2:04 personal best time in the marathon.
The main pack of about 15 men (including Kiplangat) came through the first 10k split of the marathon in 30:25, trailing the then-race leader, Timothy Kiplagat of Kenya, by about four seconds.
This was a pretty different strategy than we saw play out in the women’s world marathon championships yesterday, where a good 25 women or so hung together for the entire first half of the race, holding at a rather conservative pace.
Instead, the 2023 World Athletics Championships men’s marathon race got off to a decently aggressive start and then settled down after about the 10K mark.
In fact, the pace over the next 15k was shockingly slow, with the next three 5k splits from the 10k point onward clocking in at 15:35, 15:27, and 15:31, respectively.
The main pack didn’t cross the halfway mark, or 13.1 miles into the 2023 men’s marathon world championships race, until 1:05:02 into the start of the race (with a projected marathon finish time of 1:10:04, which is significantly slower than most of the racers’ marathon PBs!).
Due to the slow pace, the main pack actually grew as the race progressed, such that there were about 20 men in the main pack at the 25k.
At that point, Yohanes Chiappinelli, of Italy was leading by about 3 seconds.
Finally, at that point, the real race seemed to finally get underway.
Kenyan superstar marathon runner, Kiplagat, threw in a surge and dropped the next 5k split to the 30k mark of the marathon to 15:08.
Eventual men’s marathon world champion Kiplangat made his own move 32 km into the race, dropping a 2:53 km.
This decisive surge finally broke open the pack, with a small lead pack of just Kiplangat and the Ethiopian contingent of Tola and Gebresilase breaking away and Kenyan Kiplagat and Maru Teferi from Israel hanging on with a gap of three seconds.
Although Maru Teferi now resides in and runs for Israel, he is of Ethiopian descent and was born in Ethiopia but emigrated to Israel at age 15.
Maru Teferi was the men’s marathon silver medalist at the 2022 European Athletics Championships last summer and won the 2022 Fukuoka Marathon, so he was certainly a viable medal contender in today’s World Marathon Championships for men.
The lead men continued to pick up the pace for the remainder of the marathon, dropping a 14:40 5k split from the 30k to 35k mark of the race.
This blistering pace dropped Tola back a bit while Teferi powered forward into third place.
Victor Kiplangat lived up to his name, proving to be strong enough to be the Victor over the field, as he continued to hold a strong pace and drop his competitors.
Kiplangat hit the 40k mark in 2:01:52, after splitting 14:59 for the previous 5 km, putting 13 seconds on Ethiopian Gebresilase, who was in a strong second place, 31 seconds in front of Israeli Teferi.
Although at this point, many spectators would have wagered that the podium places were sealed in this order, Teferi Blue things open with an incredibly strong final 2+ kilometers to the end, catching and then whizzing by Gebresilase in the final 100 meters of the race to nab the silver medal with a time of 2:09:12.
Gebresilase, who seemed to be hurting at the end of the race, finished shortly behind in 2:09:19 to snatch the bronze medal, though his finish was not nearly as strong as Teferi’s final finishing kick.
Teferi’s silver medal finish at the 2023 Marathon World Championships is even more impressive given the fact that he fell earlier in the race.
The American men had a tough day, with the best performance coming from 28-year-old Zach Panning.
Zach Panning, who runs for the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project in Rochester Hills, Michigan, finished in 13th place in a time of 2:11:21.
Panning had a stronger second half of the marathon in terms of place, as he was all the way back in 39th place at the half.
He also ran pretty even splits for the marathon, coming through the half in 1:05:25, and finishing in 2:11:21 (slowing down by just 31 seconds total in the second 13.1 miles).
There were a total of 60 men who finished the 2023 marathon world championships, none of whom were athletes from Great Britain.
Overall, it was a particularly exciting race for the Ugandan champion, 23-year-old Victor Kiplangat, and a gutsy performance by Maru Teferi of Israel as well.
You can find full results from the event and all of the future events at the 2023 World Athletics Championships this week here.
You can learn how to watch the World Athletics Championships here.