Lemi Berhanu Hayle Turns Back The Clock To Triumph In Prague

Lemi Berhanu Hayle turns back the clock to triumph in Prague


Lemi Berhanu Hayle turned back the clock to win the Prague International Marathon.

The 29-year-old Ethiopian had a meteoric rise in the sport eight years ago, after recording a personal best of 2:04:33 in Dubai, triumphing at the Boston Marathon and then representing his country over the marathon at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Hayle, who also finished fourth at the 2019 New York Marathon, clocked 2:08:44 in the Czech capital and won by one minute and 44 seconds.

Part of a leading pack of seven athletes, Hayle went through 10km in 29:50 and then half-way in 63:19. It was after this that the Ethiopian made his move and by 30km had dropped his rivals, including Kenyan Kiprono Kipkemboi.

There was no way back for them. Hayle ploughed on and arms aloft in Prague’s Old Town Square, recorded a 2:08:44 run.

In doing so, Hayle maintained his 100% record over 26.2 miles this season, after victory at the Mumbai Marathon on January 21.

Bedatu Hirpa made it an Ethopian double in the Czech capital.

Bedatu Hirpa (RunCzech)

Bedatu Hirpa is an Ethiopian long-distance runner who has competed in various international races, including those organized by RunCzech, a prominent organizer of running events based in the Czech Republic. RunCzech hosts several renowned races such as the Prague Marathon and the Prague Half Marathon, attracting elite athletes worldwide. Hirpa’s participation in these events likely signifies his skill and competitiveness as a long-distance runner.

A fifth placer from the 2019 Tokyo Marathon, Hirpa is a marathon specialist and went into Prague with a win at the Riyadh Marathon on February 10.

She has a track background though and in 2015 was the world U18 15000m champion nine years ago.

The 25-year-old went through 10km in a leading group of four athletes in 33:39. That was down to three at the halfway stage as Hirpa, Dorcas Tuitoek, and Shewarge Alene recorded a mark of 71:52, with the trio battling it out for the lead.

Similarly, in the men’s race, Hirpa made her move around the 30km mark. She’d established a nine-second gap before extending it to 39 seconds at 35km.

By the time that Hirpa had entered the Old Town Square, victory was a foregone conclusion and she won by one minute and nine seconds.

Both Hayle and Hirpa were presented with their trophies on a picturesque podium in front of Prague’s National Gallery.


Due to wind impacting athletes as they ran down past the river Vltava, the course records of Alexander Mutiso (2:05:09 – 2023) and Lonah Salpeter (2:19:46 – 2019) weren’t threatened.

The Prague International Marathon was founded back in 1995 by Carlo Capalbo, alongside 1988 Olympic men’s marathon champion Gelindo Bordin and quadruple Olympic gold medallist Emil Zátopek.

Zátopek, nicknamed the “Czech Locomotive”, is one of the country’s greatest-ever athletes. He is best known for being the only person in history to claim three Olympic gold medals over the 5000m, 10,000m, and the marathon in the same Games, at Helsinki 1952.

In a recent interview with AW, Capalbo stated that Zátopek “drew the course for the Prague International Marathon on a napkin”.


The event has become one of Europe’s fastest-growing road races, courtesy of organisers RunCzech, and has come a long way since it started out in 1995.

One of the biggest unique selling points of the event is its ability to create a competition for both the elites and the masses.

Known as “Battle of the Teams”, the idea is that both masses and elites are split into teams. It means that the placing of every runner matters.

This year’s four teams were: Team Mattoni, Team Prague Airport, Team Turkish Airlines and Team Volkswagen.

The IOC had also extended the qualification period for the Olympic marathon past the April 30 date, to include the Prague International Marathon.

It meant that runners from a multitude of continents flocked to the Czech Republic.

You can watch back the Prague International Marathon on the RunCzech Youtube channel.

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