Marathon queen Helalia Johannes on Sunday became the first-ever professional Namibian female runner to run the prestigious New York City Marathon, which celebrated its 50th edition with the weekend’s race in the major American coastal city.
Johannes ran a remarkable time of 2:26:09 to finish fifth overall and to also become only the second Namibian to run at the New York City Marathon, with the first being veteran marathoner Tobias Hiskia some years ago.
The race was won by Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir with a time of 2:22:39, followed by compatriot Viola Cheptoo (2:22:44) in second place, and Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia (2:22:52) in third place.
America’s Molly Seidel claimed the fourth spot with a time of 2:24:42, with Johannes rounding up the top-five lineup with 2:26:09.
Speaking to New Era Sport yesterday, Johannes said she is proud of her overall performance and how she gave her opponents a good run for their money.
“It was not an easy race at all. These races are major, and competition is always tough. But I have to say that history was made in New York because I became the first Namibian woman to run the New York City Marathon and also the first Namibian to secure a top-five finish at this race. So, that is incredible and worth celebrating. The only other Namibian athlete to have run here was Tobias Hiskia some years ago, but he finished 10th overall. That means I also became the first Namibian to finish within the top five at the York City Marathon. I’m happy with my performance,” said a jovial Johannes.
Johannes has represented Namibia at other major events such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2012 London Olympics and 2018 Commonwealth Games – and has won medals at the World Championships, Military World Games, the All-Africa Games and at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The New York City Marathon counts among the world’s six major marathons, with the others being the Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin and Chicago annual marathons.
The race is organised by the New York Road Runners and has been run every year since 1970, with the exception of 2012 when it was cancelled due to the landfall of Hurricane Sandy – and 2020, when it was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The race is held on the first Sunday of November, and it attracts professional competitors and amateurs from all over the world.
Recognised as one of the longest marathons, the racecourse winds through all five boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island) of New York City.