Feyisa Lilesa

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Feyisa Lilesa
Berlin-Marathon 2015 Runners 3.jpg
Feyisa at the 2015 Berlin Marathon
Personal information
Nationality Ethiopian
Born (1990-02-01) 1 February 1990 (age 26)
Event(s) Long-distance running
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)
Chicago Marathon: 2:04:52 (2012)

Feyisa Lilesa (born February 1, 1990) is a male long-distance runner from Ethiopia. He became the youngest man to run under 2:06 hours when he set his personal best (2:05:23) in the men's marathon at the 2010 Rotterdam Marathon.[1] His personal best of 2:04:52 (set in 2012) ranks him in the top ten fastest marathoners ever.[2]

Feyisa Lilesa during 2013 London Marathon

He won the Dublin Marathon in 2009 in his debut race and then won the Xiamen International Marathon in 2010. He was the bronze medallist at the 2011 World Championships Marathon.


He entered international competition in 2008 and his first major competition was the 2008 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, where his 14th place finish in the junior race helped the Ethiopians to the team silver medals.[3] He ran at the inaugural edition of the World 10K Bangalore in May and was fifth in a time of 28:35.[4]

Feyisa made his senior breakthrough the following year, stepping up a level at the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and scoring a senior team silver medal by finishing in 12th place.[5] That April he headed to the United States to compete in the Crescent City Classic in New Orleans. He set a 10K best of 28:20 to finish as runner-up behind Mark Kiptoo.[6] He upped the distance by running at the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon in September. He set a time of 1:02:15 but again he was beaten into second place by a Kenyan rival, this time in the form of William Chebor.[7] He made his marathon debut he following month, competing at the Dublin Marathon. He took the lead from two-time winner Aleksey Sokolov and went unrivalled in his first race over the distance, beating Solokov by a margin of a minute and a half. His time of 2:09:12 was a strong debut run, although he missed the course record by five seconds.[8]

He improved further at the Xiamen International Marathon in January 2010, breaking Samuel Muturi Mugo's year-old course record with a time of 2:08:47 to gain his first win at a major marathon.[9] He knocked a significant margin off that time at the Rotterdam Marathon, where he finished in 2:05:23. This time made him the third fastest Ethiopian (and non-Kenyan runner) ever behind compatriots Haile Gebrselassie and Tsegay Kebede. However, this time only brought him fourth place in Rotterdam as the competition was one of the strongest ever – podium finishers Patrick Makau, Geoffrey Mutai, Vincent Kipruto all moved into the top-10 all-time fastest marathon runners.[10] He ran at the 2010 Chicago Marathon in October and kept pace with the race leaders, Tsegaye Kebede and Sammy Wanjiru, up to the 20-mile mark. He faded behind them afterwards, however, and finished in third with a time of 2:08:10.[11] Feyisa Lilesa was among the earlier front runners of the Delhi Half Marathon the following month, but eventually finished in fifth place.[12]

He was part of the silver medal-winning Ethiopian team at the 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, where he finished in seventeenth place.[13] He ran at the Rotterdam Marathon in April, but was somewhat off the pace and finished seventh, more than six minutes behind the winner.[14] He was chosen to represent Ethiopia at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics and ran a season's best time of 2:10:32 hours to take the bronze medal.[15]

He began 2012 with a significant improvement in the half marathon, taking the Houston Half Marathon title with a course record time of 59:22 minutes.[16][17] He entered the RAK Half Marathon the following month but was two minutes slower and ended the race in fifth place.[18] He came third at the New York City Half Marathon in March, finishing behind fellow Ethiopian Deriba Merga.[19] At the World 10K Bangalore he again missed the podium, falling back to fourth in the latter stages.[20] He did not make the Ethiopian team for the 2012 Summer Olympics and that July he was runner-up at the Bogotá Half Marathon.[21] He reached new heights in the marathon at the 2012 Chicago Marathon – he duelled against Tsegaye Kebede in the final stages and finished as runner-up with a personal best of 2:04:52 hours.[22] He retained his half marathon title in Houston at the start of 2013 and came fourth at the RAK Half Marathon a month later.[23][24] Feyisa won the national cross country title at the Jan Meda International, earning selection for the global race.[25]

Personal bests[edit]

Event Time (h:m:s) Venue Date
10 km 28:06 New Delhi, India 21 November 2010
Half marathon 59:22 Houston, Texas, United States 15 January 2012
Marathon 2:04:52 Chicago, Illinois 7 October 2012
  • All information taken from IAAF profile.


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Ethiopia
2009 Dublin Marathon Dublin, Ireland 1st Marathon 2:09:12
2010 Xiamen International Marathon Xiamen, PR China 1st Marathon 2:08:47
Rotterdam Marathon Rotterdam, Netherlands 4th Marathon 2:05:23
2011 World Championships Daegu, South Korea 3rd Marathon 2:10:32
2012 Chicago Marathon Chicago, USA 2nd Marathon 2:04:52


  1. ^ Merga and Lilesa join Chicago men's field. IAAF (2010-10-01). Retrieved on 2011-06-29.
  2. ^ Marathon - men - senior - outdoor. IAAF. Retrieved on 2013-02-03.
  3. ^ 2008 World XC Championships – Official Team Results Junior Race – M. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-08-04.
  4. ^ Krishnan, Ram. Murali (2008-05-18). Tadese the men’s 10km victor, while Abeylegesse and Momanyi share women’s spoils in Bangalore. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-08-04.
  5. ^ Powell, David (2009-03-28). Gebremariam's final burst secures men's senior prize for Ethiopia – Amman 2009. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-08-04.
  6. ^ Crescent City Classic 2009 – All Finishers. CCC. Retrieved on 2010-08-04.
  7. ^ Chebor and Gelan take Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon titles. IAAF (2009-09-06). Retrieved on 2010-08-04.
  8. ^ O'Riordan, Ian (2009-10-27). Lilesa cruises home in sensational debut. Irish Times. Retrieved on 2010-08-04.
  9. ^ Cartier, Cyrille (2010-01-03). Lilesa and Bayisa lead Ethiopian sweep in Xiamen. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-08-04.
  10. ^ van Hemert, Wim (2010-04-11). Makau storms 2:04:48 in Rotterdam. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-08-04.
  11. ^ Hersh, Philip (2010-10-10). Wanjiru battles, beats Kebede. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on 2010-10-14.
  12. ^ Murali, Ram. Krishnan (2010-11-21). Mergia recaptures women’s crown, Mutai foils Ethiopian sweep at Delhi Half Marathon. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-11-27.
  13. ^ Lilesa, Feyisa. IAAF. Retrieved on 2012-01-16.
  14. ^ van Hemert, Wim (2011-04-10). Chebet impresses with 2:05:27 victory in Rotterdam. IAAF. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  15. ^ Martin, David (2011-09-04). Men's Marathon - Final - With runaway victory, Kirui becomes third man to defend title. IAAF. Retrieved on 2011-10-30.
  16. ^ Jufar sizzles 2:06:51 as records tumble at Houston Marathon. IAAF (2012-01-16). Retrieved on 2012-01-16.
  17. ^ Ethiopians dominate 2012 Houston marathon, half marathon. Ethioabay. Retrieved on 2012-02-21.
  18. ^ Hutchings, Tim (2012-02-17). Keitany wins but records blown off course in windy RAK Half Marathon. IAAF. Retrieved on 2012-02-19.
  19. ^ Kirui and Dado triumph in New York Half Marathon. IAAF (2012-03-18). Retrieved on 2012-03-25.
  20. ^ Krishnan, Ram. Murali (2012-05-27). Kipsang and Kiprop lead Kenyan double podium sweep in Bangalore. IAAF. Retrieved on 2012-05-27.
  21. ^ Kirui and Cherono dominate Bogotá Half Marathon. IAAF (2012-07-30). Retrieved on 2012-07-30.
  22. ^ Gugala, Jon (2012-10-07). Course record for Kebede, Baysa dethrones Shobukhova - Chicago Marathon report. IAAF. Retrieved on 2013-02-02.
  23. ^ Youth trumps weather in Houston as Ethiopians take clean sweep of titles. IAAF (2013-01-13). Retrieved on 2013-02-03.
  24. ^ Kabuu and Kipsang triumph in high-quality races at Ras al-Khaimah Half. IAAF (2013-02-15). Retrieved on 2013-03-02.
  25. ^ Negash, Elshadai (2013-02-24). Lilesa and Ayalew capture impressive wins at Ethiopian Cross Trials. IAAF. Retrieved on 2013-03-02.

External links[edit]