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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Grit and focus help runners battle tough conditions

Doha's midnight marathon medal winners dig deep into their mental reserves to achieve success.
Namibia’s Helalia Johannes (left), Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich (centre) And Bahrain’s Rose Chelimo Ensured They Stayed Hydrated Throughout The Gruelling Race On The Corniche
Namibia’s Helalia Johannes (left), Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich (centre) and Bahrain’s Rose Chelimo ensured they stayed hydrated throughout the gruelling race on the Corniche. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Ruth Chepngetich, Rose Chelimo and Helalia Johannes were all smiles at the finish line of the Midnight Marathon in the wee hours of Saturday. They had just finished a gruelling run and it had taken tremendous strength, focus and grit to stay on course, on the opening night of the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.

Chepngetich, from Kenya, was the strongest of the three, claiming the gold in two hours 32 minutes and 43 seconds, followed by Bahrain’s Chelimo in 2:33:46 and Namibian Johannes (2:34.15). Chepngetich’s smile lit up the finish and it conveyed relief as well as joy, for she had conquered the hot and humid conditions at the Corniche.

“At one point it was really tough but I made up my mind not to give up. I just wanted it so much because I worked for it in training. I couldn’t let it out of my mind that I could be the winner,” she said.

Chelimo echoed similar sentiments. “It was still very hot and at one point I thought of stopping. But I kept going and prayed that I could finish the race,” said the Bahraini.

The final stretch was the most challenging for her. “Towards the last lap, from about 37km, my body was not moving well. But I just tried my best.”

Johannes said a song playing in her head motivated her to finish the race. “It was not easy because of the weather and I can’t say I enjoyed it. What helped me were the words of a song which said ‘you must keep going till you finish’.”

Chepngetich revealed that solid preparation had paid off for her. “I train with a marathon team. And we’ve been working hard to tackle races like this. We’re a disciplined group and followed our coach’s programme with dedication. It was hard but now I’m a winner.”

Chelimo and Johannes said keeping themselves hydrated helped battle the conditions.

“The weather was too hot. I had to take a lot of water and some of the other drinks,” said the Bahraini runner.

“During the race I drank a lot because I was afraid of being dehydrated. I made sure I didn’t miss any water points,” said Johannes.

Of the 68 starters, 40 finished the race, proving once again that where there is a will, there is a way.