Kenya-born Israeli runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter was the first woman in Sunday’s Tokyo Marathon. Her time, 2 hours 17 minutes and 45 seconds, set a new women’s record for the Tokyo race, a new Israeli national record, and the eighth best result of all times for a woman in a marathon.
Ethiopian runner Birhanu Legese won the Tokyo Marathon in two hours, four minutes and 15 seconds.
The race was limited to only a few hundred top runners, with more than 30,000 amateur runners asked not to attend, because of the coronavirus outbreak in Japan. The race was conducted in largely empty streets, as fans were also asked to stay home, to avoid infection.
More than 940 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Japan, including 705 from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship. There have been 11 deaths from the virus, including six Diamond Princess passengers.
Lonah Korlima Chemtai Salpeter was born in Kenya, and grew up in a small village—without electricity or running water. She came to Israel in 2008, as a nanny for the children of Kenya’s Ambassador to Israel. She met Israeli running coach Dan Salpeter in 2011, and they got married in 2014. Their son, Roy, was born in December 2014. They live lives in Shoham, in central Israel. Chemtai was granted Israeli citizenship in March 2016, and after winning the 2016 Tel Aviv Marathon’s women’s track in 2:40:16, qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. She was forced to drop out of the race with a shoulder problem after 33 kilometers.
She will represent Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.