Portal:Women's sport/Selected article/5
The provisional favourite for the women's race was Kenyan runner Florence Kiplagat, who was the fastest entrant in the field through her win at the Lille Half Marathon in September (also her debut for the distance). Her compatriots Peninah Arusei and Sarah Chepchirchir – second and third in Lille – completed the strongest three of the Kenyan women's team, which was considered the team to beat for the title. The Ethiopians, led by Boston Marathon winner Dire Tune, were their main opposition for the team race, although the nation had sent relatively inexperienced runners to the championships on this occasion. China's leading athlete was Zhu Xiaolin, who despite being an established marathon runner had less experience over the half distance. Although Japan lacked a leading figure individually, their overall consistency (which had brought them team medals in the last five editions) demonstrated their team pedigree.
The beginning to the race highlighted the dominance of the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners as they set a high tempo from the outset. By the time the first 5 km marker was passed, Australia's Nikki Chapple was the only athlete left in the leading pack to come from outside of the two historically strong nations. A few kilometres later, she dropped back from the pack and at the 10 km mark five Ethiopians and four Kenyans had a fifteen second advantage on the rest of the field. As the race reached the midway point, the temperature began to increase and the heat and humidity reduced the pace of the runners. The conditions took their toll on some of the leaders in this section of the race. Chepchirchir slowed considerably while Meseret Mengistu, Joyce Chepkirui and Fate Tola were the next to gradually lose contact with the front runners. Kiplagat, Dire, Arusei and Feyse Tadese were the sole contenders remaining as the race headed towards the final stages, but Kiplagat and Dire soon left the other two trailing a few minutes later.