After almost a four-year hiatus, Ethiopian long distance roadrunner Worknesh Degefa staged her comeback at the Valencia Marathon Trinidad Alfonso on December 3. 

And amazingly, Degefa blazed to victory, punching her hand in the air as she finished in a stunning 2:15:51 to edge out Almaz Ayana and Hiwot Gebrekidan.

Degefa’s last marathon

Degefa is especially well-known for her dominance at the Dubai Marathon, where the 33-year-old finished first in 2017 and fourth in 2018. The following year at the Dubai Marathon, Degefa finished second in the race and set her personal best of 2:17:41.

In 2020, Degefa dominated the Dubai Marathon once more, placing first with a record of 2:19:38. Unfortunately, this was the last time that the world saw her compete before going into a double-maternity leave, staying away from the public’s eye for almost four years.

Degefa’s comeback

Three years is a long time, and anyone knows that lengthy hiatuses can sometimes rust the athletes’ prowess. But not for Degefa. The Ethiopian runner showed the world that, even after her break, she can still stage a powerful comeback, dominate the scene, and outrun a formidable field of competitors. 

On Sunday, Degefa and the other road runners were set to compete in perfect weather conditions. Under the clear blue skies, the women’s marathon kicked off at a nice, steady pace, with the leaders clocking 16:00 for the first 5km and 32:02 for the first 10km. 

As the race continued down the lane, only four women maintained their positions as leaders: Ethiopia’s trio of runners, namely Degefa, Almaz Ayana, and Hiwot Gebrekiden, and German runner Melat Kejeta. 

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Ayana initially had the lead, but Degefa, who was unwavering in the face of a challenge, surged ahead and managed to surpass Ayana around the 33rd kilometer.

Degefa, who refused to relinquish her lead, continued the remaining kilometers at an astounding pace. With her tenacity and undwindling prowess, she was able to finish the race in 2:15:51, crushing her previous personal best of 2:17:41 and moving up to seventh on the women’s world all-time list.

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