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Helen Bekele Tola takes bronze in Berlin Marathon

The Ethiopian athlete became the first On runner to medal at a major marathon event.


Helen Bekele Tola is celebrating after a grueling three-month high-altitude training camp in St. Moritz paid off with a bronze medal at the 2021 Berlin Marathon.


Tola, who clocked up 220km per week during her time in the Swiss Alps, finished with a time of 2:23:05 – almost 90 seconds ahead of fourth-placed Edith Chelimo. She joined fellow Ethiopians Gotytom Gebreslase (2:20:09) and Hiwot Gebrekidan (2:21:23) on the podium before setting her sights on future success.


“My preparation was really good, and I felt good during the race,” she said. “It was my first time running an important marathon with On… (so) it really gave me happiness. I was so happy to finally realize what I’d been training for and to know that work always pays.”


She added: “I’m not sure what’s next, but my manager told me the New York marathon. If everything is good, I’ll go there and represent On again.”



Tola looked calm and composed throughout. She led for the first 20kms and completed her first 13.1 miles in 1:09:20 while maintaining an average time of at least 3:19 per km.


And despite her pace slowing in the second half of the race, she was comfortably ahead of Chelimo as she entered the final kilometers.


Tola, who has been based in Geneva since 2015, will no doubt receive a hero’s welcome when she returns to Stade Genève Club soon!


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