Ethiopia claimed world gold and silver in the women's marathon ©Getty Images

Ethiopia took gold and silver in a women’s marathon run in brutal conditions at the World Athletics Championships here as Amane Shankule won in 2hour 24min 23sec with defending champion Gotytom Gebreslase following her home in Budapest in 2:24:34.

An Ethiopian clean sweep had looked on for most of the closing stages until the conditions took their toll on last year’s London Marathon winner Yalemzerf Yehualaw.

She was passed in the final kilometre by Morocco’s Fatima Gardadi, who claimed bronze in 2:25:17, and Israel’s 2022 world bronze medallist Lonah Salpeter, who took fourth place in 2:25:38.

Yehualaw was barely able to make it over the line as she finished fifth in 2:26:13.

"We knew if we worked together we could get a better result, and we worked well as a team today," Shankule said. "We got the lead group down to six and then we pushed away with four of us. That was our plan because there was such a strong field.

"After we got rid of the rest, then it was a battle with my tough teammates. Gebreslase is a strong athlete and she wanted to defend her title. 

"But all our team are strong. We wanted to win all three medals, of course, but that didn't go to plan in the end. We took gold and silver and we are happy with that."

As the field of 70 runners from 47 countries set off at 7am CEST the temperature was already 23 degrees Celsius and humidity approaching 75 per cent - by the finish the temperature was rising past 30°C.

Rosemary Wanjiru led the Kenyan challenge in fifth place, clocking 2:26:42, with her team-mate Selly Kaptich one place behind in 2:27:09.

The Ethiopian trio had formed part of a formidable four-strong unit for most of the race. Along with Tsehay Gemechu, second fastest in the world this year, they made a decisive break shortly after the 30km marker, although Gemechu dropped out in obvious discomfort shortly afterwards.

For a while it seemed simply a case of which order on the podium the three Ethiopians would earn, with Shankule, whose victory in Valencia last December in 2:14:58 made her the third fastest woman of all time, pushing on for gold and Yehualaw looking on for silver.

But the defending champion was able to move up again into second place as Yehualaw began to suffer and fade out of medal contention.

After 35 minutes of racing early leader Susanna Sullivan of the United States found herself accompanied with a group of around 20 leaders, with the field moving through 10km in 35:31.

Wanjiru, Gemechu, Gebreslase, Rebecca Cheptegei of Uganda, Salpeter and Rose Chelimo of Bahrain were to the fore as the race speeded up to 2:20 pace.

At this point, around the 13km mark, four Ethiopians arrived in a phalanx at the front - Shankule, Gemechu, Gebreslase and Yehualaw - and accelerated to detach a lead group of around 15.

Cheptegei led the lead group of 17 through 15km in 52:56 at around 2hr 18min pace before Salpeter and Keira D’Amato of the United States took over as the Chain Bridge and the cooling tunnel beyond beckoned, with the pack now growing to around 25.

At the halfway point D’Amato led the field through in 1:14:29 with Salpeter at her shoulder.

By the 25km point the serious business of the race was involving around 15 runners, with the Ethiopians strongly to the fore as Shankule led through in 1:27:51 with Gemechu, Gebreslase and Yehualaw in a top six that also featured Wanjiru and Salpeter.

Ethiopia took world women's marathon gold through Amane Shankule and silver through defending champion Gotytom Gebreslase, but in brutal conditions Yalemzerf Yehualaw was unable to complete a clean sweep ©Getty Images
Ethiopia took world women's marathon gold through Amane Shankule and silver through defending champion Gotytom Gebreslase, but in brutal conditions Yalemzerf Yehualaw was unable to complete a clean sweep ©Getty Images

By 27km the lead group was 10 - just - as Germany’s Melat Kejeta struggled to keep in touch, and the Ethiopian quartet was at the heart of it as the temperature reached 27°C.

Kenya’s Wanjiru and Kaptich were in the hunt, although not running together, along with Salpeter, Gardadi and Nazret Weldu of Eritrea.

Salpeter led a group of nine runners through 30km in 1:44.26.

By 32km the lead group, going through in 1:50:59, was down to Salpeter, Wanjiru - and the Ethiopian unit. With 10km remaining, the hammer had come down.

Now came the big move, as the four Ethiopians, after a brief conflab, accelerated away, leaving Salpeter and Wanjiru running side by side in their wake.

The only question appeared to be which order the Ethiopians would finish on the podium - but the conditions determined otherwise.

Between the 33rd and 34th kilometre Shankule made her move. As the Ethiopian trio approached the Chain Bridge for the last time she attacked, with Yehualaw dropping away, and the defending champion Gebreslase became a distant third.

But Gebreslase was soon able to move past her flagging team-mate for silver, with Gardadi timing her bronze medal run to perfection.

"I am very satisfied with the bronze medal," the 31-year-old Moroccan said. "This is the beginning for my career. The result was not a surprise for me because I ran three times 2:25 this year, last time in Rabat.

"The conditions there were the same as here in Budapest. I did not have any difficulties today. I came here to win a medal. I was fourth and then I noticed the Ethiopian not far from me, so I decided to win the bronze. and I made every effort to make it."

After crossing the line - where the finish banner was held by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe - Shankule sank to her knees before rising to embrace the defending champion.