Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter finishes fifth in London Marathon

Race is a redemption for the Israeli runner, after a disappointing finish at the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

Israel's Lonah Chemtai Salpeter competes in the women's marathon during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Sapporo, on August 7, 2021. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP)
Israel's Lonah Chemtai Salpeter competes in the women's marathon during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Sapporo, on August 7, 2021. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP)

Israeli runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter finished fifth among women who ran the London Marathon on Sunday, marking a redemption after her disappointing finish at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year.

Chemtai Salpeter — a native of Kenya who became an Israeli citizen in 2016 — finished the race with a time of 2:18:54, just over a second after the first-place winner and just half a second after the third place finisher. Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya finished the race in first place, followed by Degitu Azimeraw of Ethiopia and Ashete Bekere of Kenya.

At the Tokyo 2020 Games, Chemtai Salpeter was considered a medal favorite in the women’s marathon, and was out in the front of the pack of runners for much of the race. But with just four kilometers (2.5 miles) left to go, she paused on the side of the track after experiencing severe pain due to menstrual cramps. She ultimately returned to finish the race and came in 66th out of 88 runners.

A year earlier, she won the Tokyo Marathon, setting a new record and her own personal best time, finishing in 2:17:45. In 2019, she came fourth in the Frankfurt Marathon with a time of 2:23:11.

Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei (center) winner of the women’s race, holds her trophy as she celebrates with second-placed Ethiopia’s Degitu Azimeraw (left) and third-placed Ethiopia’s Ashete Bekere, in the London Marathon in central London, on Sunday, October 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, however, Chemtai Salpeter also had a disappointing finish, when she had to stop before completion due to shoulder pain caused by running with the extra weight of breastmilk, as she was still breastfeeding her son at the time.

Following her finish at the Tokyo Games, she said that it was uncomfortable for her to admit that menstrual cramps caused her to pause running, but that she hopes speaking out will lead other women to be more open. “I also feel uncomfortable saying it, but I say it’s nature, I don’t have to hide anything [just] because the men cannot feel the way we feel.”

Chemtai Salpeter, who became an Israeli citizen after marrying her Israeli husband, Dan Salpeter, said in August that she is proud to represent Israel and looks forward to competing on behalf of the country at future events, including the 2022 World Athletics Championships and the 2024 Olympic Games.

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