Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Patience and hard work are the attributes Tirfi Tsegaye says are vital to success for any long-distance runner.
At the age of 29 and with victories in two of the world’s biggest marathons this year, the athlete from the renowned running town of Bekoji knows what it takes to reach the top.
As she passed through the Brandenburg Gate and crossed the finishing line in the Berlin Marathon with a personal best of 2 hours, 20 minutes, 18 seconds, Tirfi became the fastest woman in the world this year.
Victory in the German capital was the perfect way to follow up her breakthrough triumph in Tokyo in February when she smashed more than three minutes off the course record, finishing in 2-22-23.
Three weeks after the brilliant run in Berlin, she is relaxing at home in Addis Ababa, reflecting on the final two kilometers when she finally broke clear from her friend and training partner Feyse Tadese.
“I worked my heart out,” she said. “I worked hard to get what I wanted. I was so tired but I was the leader, so that made me strong.”
Trailing behind the American athlete Shalane Flanaghan by 18 seconds at the halfway stage, Tirfi showed tactical discipline and confidence to run her own race. “I didn’t think about winning, I thought for my time,” she said.
That time turned out to be a minute faster than she had ever run before as Flanaghan, then Tadese were left trailing.
Six years ago in Portugal, Tirfi announced herself on the world stage by winning the Porto Marathon in 2-35-31. Along with her gradual improvements every year, have come marathon victories in Paris and Dubai, and a half-marathon best of 1-07-42 in Ostia, Italy.
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