SPIRULINA ON HEALTH, ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE AND RECOVERY

Microscopic view of spirulina (unstained)
Microscopic view of spirulina

Spirulina is a type of microscopic bacteria, often referred to as “blue-green microalgae.” It grows naturally in alkaline lakes or commercially produced in controlled ponds.

Widely used in medicine and the food industry is known for its high nutrient content, including 60-70% protein, essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds. It is claimed to be a rich source of vitamin B12, antioxidant carotenoids and minerals (iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium).

Thus, spirulina is used as a dietary supplement, with various health benefits reported, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-modulating properties.

A recent review studied the available bibliography. We will briefly explain its main findings and the potential benefits of its use in athletes.

Supplement tablets
Lyophilifized power

Effects of spirulina in health

  1. Antidiabetic: spirulina is suggested to help manage diabetes by improving blood lipid profiles, and parameters like blood glucose and insulin sensitivity.
  2. Antianaemic: spirulina, rich in iron, is proposed to be beneficial in treating anaemia, with studies showing increased haemoglobin and iron levels.
  3. Anticancer: spirulina is believed to have antioxidant and immune-modulating properties that may contribute to cancer prevention. Some studies showed the regression of precancerous lesions and inhibition of tumours.
  4. Antiviral: spirulina may inhibit the replication of various viruses, with studies suggesting a decrease of viral load in HIV cases.

Use of spirulina in athletes

  1. Supplementation. Athletes, especially with inadequate nutrition, may benefit from Spirulina due to its rich nutritional content. Studies suggest positive effects on body composition, aerobic fitness, strength, and power. Results varied depending on training status, with best results in untrained or moderately trained individuals. In highly trained athletes, results are less consistent.
  2. Effects on intense exercise. Intense exercise leads to exercise-induced muscle damage due to inflammation and oxidative stress. Spirulina’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are suggested to be beneficial. Supplementation can lower markers like lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), creatine kinase (CK), and interleukin 6 (IL-6) after exercise, benefits that would prevent and speed up recovery, although not all studies agreed on this point.
Main effects of spirulina on human body (adapted from Chaouachi et al. 2023)

Conclusions

  • Spirulina is shown as a natural supplement, with various health benefits due to its rich nutritional content. However, its effectiveness varies depending on health status and individual characteristics.
  • Regarding Spirulina´s use in athletes, it shows potential in improving body composition, aerobic fitness, strength, and power performance.
  • More studies should be needed, with larger groups and standard methodologies, due to the lack of consistent findings and limited research on elite athletes.

Bibliography

Chaouachi M, Vincent S, Groussard C. A Review of the Health-Promoting Properties of Spirulina with a Focus on athletes’ Performance and Recovery. J Diet Suppl. 2023 May 4:1-32.

doi: 10.1080/19390211.2023.2208663.

MARATHON 124: MALAGA (10/12/2023)

On a peninsular level, Málaga was one of the last marathons missing from my list. The long travel distance and the timing had always deterred me in previous seasons.

This year, I had planned the trip since February, with the train ticket purchased. However, in the end, because I literally left the registration for the last day, I almost missed it again. After trying to reschedule the return time on Sunday and confirming the availability of tickets, I cancelled my purchased trip only to find that the available seats on the earlier train were for disabled passengers. And the seat from the cancelled ticket was no longer available. Fortunately, by paying extra, I managed to resolve my own mess and confirm my trip to Málaga.

Thus, after a trouble-free journey, I arrive in Málaga on Saturday afternoon to find a mild autumn weather that we had forgotten in the Castilian interior for weeks.

After settling in at the hotel, I take the free tourist bus provided by the organizers for the runners to go to the race expo at the port area. This saves me a long walk, with the aim of keeping my legs fresh as for next day. Getting the bib and runner’s bag is fast, and I still have time to explore the town and its Christmas lights.

The marathon, starting at 9:00, also offers the option of a half marathon. With a record number of participants, including many from other countries, the weather is pleasant at the beginning, around 12°C, although expected to reach 20°C in the final stages of the race. Quite different from the conditions two weeks ago in San Sebastián.

As the race starts, I see the 3h45m pace group a few meters ahead. Things are going to unfold differently than they did in San Sebastián, and I can’t catch up with the group. Nevertheless, I continue at my own pace, although losing a few seconds with each kilometre, gradually falling further behind the 3h45m group.

With the race progressing, the course becomes less crowded. With a two-lap circuit, at the halfway point, which I cross in 1h53m, only the runners of the full marathon remain. I maintain hydration at the available stations, sometimes wishing for more availability of isotonic drinks. On the positive side, the aid stations are very long, and missing the first tables don’t matter much. This is something that other race organizers should consider.

Crossing the 3-hour mark, I am at kilometre 33, so entering below 3h45m doesn’t seem easy anymore. Indeed, that is the case, as I cross the finish line in 3:51:48, securing the 1902nd position out of 3552 finishers.

A well organised marathon with growth potential.

Adding one more notch on my belt, I conclude the marathon calendar for 2023, which included 11 marathons, three of them new: Clarete, Río Boedo, and Málaga.

Next year will hopefully bring more marathon adventures. For the time being some short races ahead in the calendar, to end the year in the best possible way: running.

MARATHON 123: SAN SEBASTIAN (26/11/2023)

Sixth time in Donosti-San Sebastián. Except for Madrid, with 7 participations, it’s the marathon where we have participated most times. Thhe marathon where in 2002 I achieved a PB of 3.20.20, even with a few pauses due to cramps. This time around it was also going to coincide with Txema’s 100th marathon. The perfect excuse to gather many regular “marathoniacs”.

Due to the timing and proximity, it is one of the most attractive options on the national scene. And despite falling just one week before the Valencia Marathon, which moved from its usual February date to the now customary early December date a few years ago.

With the possibility of closing the 2023 calendar in San Sebastián, we return to the city eager to run its streets. Since the start and finish were moved from the Anoeta stadium to the city centre, between the Kursaal and the City Hall, the race has, in my opinion, gained attractiveness. It was always more tiring to get to the stadium. Now, accommodation can easily be within a 10-minute walk from the starting area.

With a temperature of 5°C at the start at 9:00, cold seems will be present thorough the early stages of the race. However, that’s not the case, and soon after starting, I warm up, thanks to the complete absence of wind. Perfect weather to ensure a good race.

From the start, I am a bit ahead of the group that decides to accompany Txema on his 100th marathon. However, in a couple of kilometres, I stop hearing their talk as they are gradually falling behind. I am not going too fast either, and I join the group aiming for 3 hours and 45 minutes, which is quite numerous. To avoid the risks of falling and facilitate the collection at the aid stations, I move slightly ahead.

Kilometres pass, crossing the half marathon in 1:50:31 with good feelings. Perhaps a bit faster than other days. Now, it remains to be seen how I cope with the second half.

I maintain the usual gel cadence, taking one every 5-6 kilometres from the 12th kilometre onwards. Feeling good, I try to focus on the 3-hour barrier and assess how much distance I have left by then. With 34 kilometres it seems easy to improve last year’s 3:58.

Feeling good, I face the last kilometres gaining positions. Nevertheless, I am overtaken by the 3:45 pacer, although I am already heading towards Kursaal for the last time. It is the final stretch by the Zurriola beach area, and the hardest part is already done.

Finally, I cross the finish line in 3:45:31, in 1497th position out of 1982 runners, and satisfied with the result and how the second part of the race went.

Once again, we conclude another San Sebastian marathon, well-organized as usual and offering many more things besides running. Surely, we will try to return.

 

MARATHON 122: BILBAO NIGHT MARATHON (21/10/2023)

Due to circumstances, I returned to the Bilbao Night Marathon, which I had already run in 2017. Initially, I considered running the marathons in Lisbon and Palma de Mallorca in October, and I even had the option to debut in Ciudad Real and Tirana, both of which had races scheduled for the same date. In the end, for logistical convenience, I travelled to Bilbao on the morning of the race, just 4 hours before it. Enough time to pick up my race bib at the runner’s expo, take a short walk, and prepare to head to the start line.

The race will begin at 7:00 PM at the San Mamés stadium and finish at the Guggenheim Museum, making it an attractive marathon. Placed in the starting corral 4, I quickly remembered why I hadn’t repeated this race. Besides the marathon distance, there are options to run a half marathon (21k) and a “pirate” 10k race, all starting simultaneously. This would be the biggest flaw of the race, because there were over 5000 participants in the 10k race, while there were fewer than 1000 in the marathon!

With a temperature of around 18°C, I wait for the previous waves of runners to start. By the time I cross the starting line at the back of corral 4, the largest one, has been already 7 minutes, and I haven’t seen any pacers to follow.

Amid this massive crowd of runners, it is difficult to maintain a steady pace. I continuously have to evade other runners while trying to maintain the distances with the runners ahead and behind me to avoid potential collisions.

After the first 5 kilometres, I am already 2 minutes behind my scheduled time. Despite my efforts to pick up the pace, it remains challenging due to the number of runners and the numerous bottlenecks on an urban course with many sharp turns.

We must endure this running almost to the finish line of the 10k race before the course clears up. From that point, we can run more comfortably, but too far behind my target time.

I didn’t remember the course very well, and there with its many twists and turns along the riverbank. I reach the half marathon mark in 1 hour and 58 minutes, realising that I have limited margin to finish under 4 hours. Anyhow, I don’t seem to find the right pace. Possibly my biorhythm doesn´t respond well to this evening/nighttime schedule.

The second lap is quite lonely, but it allows me to gradually pass other runners. With limited spectator support, I appreciate the dedication of the volunteers who cheer us on and provide the necessary refreshments at the aid stations.

As I reach the 41-kilometer mark, I am caught by the 4h pace pacer, which is almost running alone. I overhear a runner reprimanding him for not pacing properly. I assume it is because he went too fast at the start to build a time cushion, a flaw I have noticed in several races. Personally, I think is more logical to maintain a consistent pace. However, it didn’t affect me.

Entering the final straight to the Guggenheim Museum the race is done. I cross the finish line with a net time of 4.01.30, finishing in 402nd place out of 682 who completed the race. For some reason, I always go over 4 hours in this marathon.

After catching my breath, I head back to the hotel, already thinking about marathon number 123, which should be in San Sebastián. This would be the first time in a calendar year that I ran marathons in the three capitals of the Basque Country, after having completed Vitoria in May.

Advice to organisers: please separate the 10k start by at least 15 minutes.

MARATHON 121: LOGROÑO (01/10/2023)

Logroño was going to be the location for the 121st marathon, after having hosted the 111th in 2022 and the 101st in 2021. Thus, it was my third time running its marathon. The short distance from Valladolid and the option to run it for free (thanks to the sponsorship of Sapje Renovables) were decisive factors in this decision.

Unlike other years when I had travelled the day before, I meet up with Gorriti at 5:30 am to go directly. Already with our race bibs before leaving, we could arrive with peace of mind.

Therefore, we arrive in Logroño at 8 am and park near El Espolón Park, where the start and finish are located. We still have time for a small breakfast before walking to the starting line, where the runners are already gathering, most of them for the half marathon distance, and many familiar faces. Unusually, four members of Atletas Populares seeking the full marathon distance.

With pacers for times of 3h30m and 4 hours, my usual choice of joining the 3h45m group disappears. With just over 200 runners for the 42 kilometers, it is likely to be a lonely race in its second half.

We start on time at 9:00 am with temperatures around 15°C, that could reach 28°C by noon. The heat calls for caution, but I am running a bit faster than supposed, around 5 minutes and 10 s per kilometer (instead of the 5 minutes and 20 s to achieve a 3h45m finish time).

Repeating almost the same route as in previous years, I know it is a race with no much spectator support, often taking us away from the more touristy areas of the city. Long straightaways and some tough inclines, especially the one along the side of the church next to the river, paved with cobblestones, and the final one heading towards El Espolón. The first lap serves to refresh my memory and confirm that the second part of the course is the more demanding one.

I complete the half marathon distance in 1.50.30. Things seem to be going well, with some buffer to achieve a good time. However, the heat and the course will not make easy to maintain that pace in the second lap.

With tired legs, I manage to keep up on track until kilometre 28. From there on, kilometres start to stretch on my watch. I begin to consider the backup goal of finishing in under 4 hours. By not missing any aid stations and choosing isotonic drinks whenever available, it is just a matter of convincing myself that each step forward is one step closer to the finish line.

In the end, I finish in a hard-fought net time of 3.53.46, in the position 152 out of 247 finishers. Overall, a result almost identical to the one achieved in 2022 (3.52.47 and 150th out of 243 finishers).

Although at the beginning of the year I had considered trying to run fewer marathons and being more selective, in the end, as with Logroño, I finish participating in those with simpler logistics and the opportunity to continue adding marathons to my tally.

If all goes well, the next stop should be be Bilbao, to repeat the night marathon we ran in 2017.

MARATHON 120: RIO BOEDO (20/08/2023-Bascones de Ojeda, SPAIN)

For years, I had heard about this marathon, especially after participating several times in the Aguilar de Campoo marathon, also organized by Gabriel, until its last edition in 2019. Then, Covid came, and it was another race disappearing.

Due to its timing, this marathon usually was during my holidays. Consequently, being far away, I couldn´t participate. However, this year things were different, and it was my chance to debut in the Río Boedo, for my 120th marathon.

On Sunday morning, it is an early wake-up to join Gorriti and a friend on their way to Bascones de Ojeda, in the north of Palencia. They are regulars of this race, as are most of the participants who gather there.

I learn on the way there that the village has been fully supportive of the event for years, as it has been going on for more than 20 editions. With 138 registered residents, the village take advantage of their festivities to embrace this challenge, always with Gabriel, his family and a few friends at the centre stage.

With a short saxophone play, just after 8 o’clock, the 40 runners who had gathered there set off. Many familiar faces of the regular marathon runners who “pilgrimage” to Bascones year after year. Strange that a free marathon where they treat you like family can´t congregate more runners. But perhaps that’s the secret of its spirit.

The course consists of 3 loops, mostly on dirt roads, all the way to the village of Collazos de Boedo. That’s where we encounter one of the most challenging sections, with a rocky path that will bring us back towards Bascones.

With temperatures rising quickly, it’s a race for those who love running solo. However, it’s not a problem for me as I’m used to training alone. The laps go by, and I try to stay hydrated the best  I can. Approaching the last lap, I see the possibility of achieving another sub-4-hour finish.

In the end, I cross the finish line in 3.54.02, securing the 15th position out of 43 finishers.

In the words of another runner: “If there’s an iconic marathon, it’s the New York Marathon. If there’s a marathon that truly crowns you as a marathoner, it’s probably the Rio Boedo.”

After adding this marathon to my list of achievements, it’s time to think about new endeavours. Autumn always brings opportunities to collect more marathon medals.

See you at marathon number 121.

MARATHON 119: UTRSC SANTA CRUZ (07/31/2023 – Santa Cruz, Portugal)

As the holidays began, we had the opportunity to run the Santa Cruz trail marathon again, starting and finishing in the village/beach of Santa Cruz, near Torres Vedras, about 60 kilometres from Lisbon.

We had previously run the 2021 edition, at an earlier time, as there were nighttime mobility restrictions due to Covid at that time. With the start at 18.30, there are also races of 12 and 22k.

Despite only two years having passed, I didn’t remember much of the course, except that I thought certain sections of the trail would be challenging to navigate at night due to their rugged terrain.

With heat, although not too intense at that hour, we set off. The first section is a 22k stretch that will bring us back to Santa Cruz, featuring beautiful landscapes mostly following the coastline. Among the highlights, the views and crossing of the long Azul Beach.

We then embark on the second part of the race with only the marathon participants. This segment covers another 20k. Shortly after leaving Santa Cruz, it is time to use the headlamp to see where I step. Some of the most challenging areas are here, due to the rugged terrain and dense vegetation, as well as the attention needed not to lose sight of the reflective ribbons, which, at certain intervals, indicate the path to follow.

Despite the challenges, I don’t lose my way, and upon reaching the aid station at the abandoned monastery, I know that an ascent awaits me. I take it easy to maintain balance, knowing that what follows will be much easier. Moments of complete solitude allow me to enjoy the nighttime silence in the wilderness as I make my way back toward the coastal area of Porto Novo, with the final aid station.

From there, it is simply a matter of continuing, mostly in a straight line with the sea to the right, towards the finish line. In the vicinity of Santa Cruz, the section with planks over the beach arrives. There is only a small ascent left, and there is the finish line.

I cross it in 4.32.18, 16 minutes faster than in 2021, securing the 25th position out of 41 finishers. Pleased with the result and the opportunity to add a marathon to my list in the always challenging month of July. Now, all that is left is to catch an Uber back to Lisbon since there is no public transportation options until the following morning.

We will return (or at least try) on a future occasion to a marathon that we would highly recommend to fellow marathon runners, both for its beauty and good organisation.

MATERNITY ON HIGH-LEVEL MARATHON PERFORMANCE

Photo by Lucas Favre (Unsplash)

For top-level female athletes it is a challenge balancing professional life, maternity leave, and returning to competition after it. Allyson Felix, a renowned champion, faced difficulties with her sponsor when renegotiating funding contracts after pregnancy.

When studying the career progression of elite marathon runners and how age influences performance, it was found that the marathon peak performance occurred around 28.5 years for women, although many elite runners continued to perform well beyond 40 years.

Therefore, elite sportswomen often choose to temporarily interrupt competition, rather than wait until retirement, to have children.

A recent study aimed to investigate the impact of mid-career maternity on performance progression among elite female marathoners.

 

Participants and Data Collection

The study identified the top 150 female marathoners listed in the IAAF’s All-Time Marathon Top List and included them in the study if they had at least one maternity during their careers.

 

Results

The study confirmed the well-established age-performance relationship observed in various disciplines, including running. Peak performance tends to occur at a certain age, after which there is a decline in performance. In the case of elite female marathoners, the peak performance age was found to be around 28.5 years.

The study demonstrated that maternity does not alter this age-performance model. Athletes who experience maternity before the age of peak performance can still progress in their careers and achieve their best performance after maternity. Similarly, those who experience maternity after reaching peak performance would experience performance decline regardless of motherhood.

The length of the maternity break varied significantly among the studied athletes, ranging from 9 to 94 months. The study showed that some athletes can quickly recover and return to a highly competitive level after a shorter break, while others may require longer breaks before reaching the international level again. Younger athletes tend to recover more quickly and achieve higher performance levels after motherhood.

The study’s limitations include the lack of data on athletes who may have chosen not to return after maternity or were unable to return to the international level. Further research on mid-career maternity in other sports could provide a deeper understanding of the impact of pregnancy on athletes’ careers and life balance.

 

Conclusions

  • Elite female marathoners can continue to perform at their best after pregnancy.
  • The timing of pregnancy relative to the age of peak performance plays a critical role in determining an athlete’s ability to return to and surpass previous performance levels.
  • Overall, this research contributes to destigmatizing motherhood among elite female athletes and highlights the importance of strategic planning and support for athletes during and after maternity.

 

For more information about pregnancy and sports, and more specifically running check our previous posts:

https://www.onekmore.com/en/2020/04/12/sports-and-pregnancy-i-physiological-effects/

https://www.onekmore.com/en/2020/04/13/sports-and-pregnancy-ii-the-running-women-community/

 

Bibliography

Does maternity during sports career jeopardize future athletic success in elite marathon runners? Forstmann N, Meignié A, De Larochelambert Q, Duncombe S, Schaal K, Maître C, Toussaint JF, Antero J. Eur J Sport Sci. 2023 Jun;23(6):896-903.

doi: 10.1080/17461391.2022.2089054. Epub 2022 Jun 26. PMID: 35703008.

DOWNHILL SECTIONS: KEY FOR PERFORMANCE IN TRAIL ULTRAMARATHONS

Photo by Kalen Emsley (Unsplash)

Trail running is an emergent endurance running discipline that takes place in open country on unpaved surfaces. It includes various distances, with ultramarathons (>42k) being the most popular.

Running on steep terrains alters the running parameters, with uphill running characterized by a concentric phase and downhill running dominated by an eccentric phase, being the concentric phase approximately 3–5 times more energetically demanding than the eccentric one.

Pacing strategy significantly affects ultratrail performance. Positive pacing, where runners slow down throughout the race, except for a final spurt, is commonly observed. Even pacing, with minimal speed variation, has been associated with better finish times.

Factors such as performance level, sex, and age can influence pacing strategy, although findings are inconsistent. Extrinsic factors like terrain also impact pacing strategy.

Previous studies have focused on specific races or factors, and a comprehensive analysis using a large dataset from multiple races is still missing. Such analysis would provide valuable information to optimize training and performance.

Photo by Guille Pozzi (Unsplash)

The study

A recent study analyzed data from four popular trail running races held within the past five years:  the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB), the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix (CCC), the Javelina 100 km and the Javelina 100 miles. A total of 16,518 athletes (14,330 male and 2,188 female) were included with the race course characteristics retrieved from the official event guides.

Regarding the athletes, they were categorized, and three datasets analysed: all finishers, elite men (top 10 men from each race), and elite women (top 10 women from each race).

As for the terrain, the analysis categorized it into uphill, downhill, or level sections based on the elevation profile between two consecutive checkpoints, and further categorized as belonging to the first or second half of the race. Sections characterized as mixed or flat were excluded.

Thus, three values were calculated:

  1. Average Race Speed (ARS)
  2. Average Speed of each Section (ASS)
  3. Pacing strategy, evaluated as Relative Section Speed percentage (RSS) and calculated as (ASS/ARS) × 100.

 

Conclusions:

  • Faster finishers tended to run faster in downhill sections and slower in uphill ones.
  • Differences in pacing strategy between faster and slower finishers increased in later stages.
  • In later stages there was a general tendency to slow down more in downhill sections than in uphill sections.
  • Among elite athletes, no significant differences in pacing strategy were observed.
  • Women paced less evenly than men and slowed down more in downhill sections in the later race stages.

 

Limitations:

  • The study did not include flat sections and the steepness of uphill and downhill sections due to inconsistent data availability.

Future studies should focus on examining how terrain steepness and flat sections affect pacing strategy in ultratrail races.

Photo by Todd Diemer (Unsplash)

Bibliography

Downhill Sections Are Crucial for Performance in Trail Running Ultramarathons-A Pacing Strategy Analysis. Genitrini M, Fritz J, Zimmermann G, Schwameder H. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2022 Nov 21;7(4):103. doi: 10.3390/jfmk7040103

MARATHON OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS (XXXVI) – Rio 2016: JEMIMA SUMGONG (1984-)

Jemima Sumgong Rio 2016
Rio 2016 logo

Rio de Janeiro won the bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games against the candidatures of Madrid, Chicago and Tokyo. These were the first Olympic Games in South America, and the first held in in the host country’s winter season.

The women’s marathon at the 2016 Summer Olympics took was scheduled on 14 August on the Sambadrome, over a course where runners had to run 3 laps.

Almost all the favourites were the African runners who had shined in the last World Championships of Beijing 2015. For Ethiopia the world champion Mare Dibaba, for Kenya Helah Kiprop (2nd) and Jemima Sumgong (4th), and now competing for Bahrein, but born in Kenya, Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa (3rd).

Sumgong was born in the Nandi District in Kenya. She began competing abroad already in 2004, winning her first races, many of them in US soil. Her first marathon was in Las Vegas in 2006, which she won in 2.35.22. At the 2007 Frankfurt Marathon she came fourth, improving her PB to 2.29.41. Shortly afterwards she married, taking a break during the 2009 season before returning in the San Diego Marathon of 2010. After the birth of her daughter, the next season she won the Castellon Marathon with 2.28.32. From that point onwards she finished in top positions in World Marathon Majors, although missing top spot. Finishing 4th in the Beijing World Championships of 2015, she ensured a victory in the London Marathon of 2016. Rio 2016 could be the time to finally claim the show, after a long and successful running career.

At 9:30 in the morning, the Rio 2016 women´s marathon started with temperatures around 19°C and noticeable humidity. With sparse shade, the bright sun was going to be directly overhead of the runners for most of the course. The pace was consistent from the outset, passing the 5k in 17.23 with most of the main contenders at the front. Desiree Linden from the US moved to the front and reduced the pack from 30 women to 13 just before the 10k mark (34.22).

The next section showed some movements. Before the 18k Ethiopians Tufa, the 2015 London Marathon winner, suddenly stopped, and soon after Volha Mazuronak of Belarus moved to the front, pushing the pace. The remaining runners with her reached the 20k in 1.09.07 and the halfway point in 1.12.56.

Things didn´t change much in the next section, although the leading group consisted of 7 runners when crossing the 30k in 1.43.21. Kenyan Kiprop and US Amy Cragg and Desiree Linden were already falling behind.

At the 36k mark Kirwa, Dibaba and Sumgong opened a gap. With 2.15.00 on the clock, Sumgong surged at front, with only Kirwa able to go with her. Heading towards the Sambadrome Kirwa was 5s behind and too tired to challenge Sumgong.

Therefore, Sumgong crossed first the finish line in 2.24.04, to win the first woman Olympic marathon title for Kenya. She had run the second half of the race almost two minutes quicker than the first. Completing the podium were Kirwa (2.24.13), winning for Bahrain its second ever Olympic medal in any sport, and Dibaba (2.24.30) for Ethiopia.

All members of the US team, Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Linden and Amy Cragg finished inside the top-10. Likewise, three pairs of twins finished the marathon: two of the Luik triplets from Estonia, the Hahner from Germany and the Kim from North Korea.

Regarding Sumgong´s racing career it didn´t go well after Rio 2016. In 2017, two weeks before the London Marathon, was suspended for 4 years because of erythropoietin doping. Her doping ban was doubled to 8 years, accused of forging her medical records, and re-started in 2019. She will be unable to compete until 2027, meaning probably the end of her sports career. 

Jemima Sumgong victorious in the marathon of Rio 2016