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Burla turns in top-10 finish in women’s marathon


BEIJING -- Serena Burla (Waukesha, Wisconsin) battled Sunday morning, turning in a top-10 finish in the women’s marathon for her third-fastest career performance. Team USA had two top-25 finishes Sunday, with Esther Erb (Richmond, Virginia) storming through the Bird’s Nest tunnel and down the final 100 meters to pass two of her competitors and cross 24th.

At the outset, it was clear today’s marathon would be tactical rather than fast. Heather Lieberg (Helena, Montana), the third member of the U.S. women’s marathon trio, looked strong over the first few kilometers, coming through 5 km in 17:59 for 23rd. However, a nagging right foot injury hampered Lieberg and she was forced to drop out between 5 and 10 km.

Burla was consistent throughout the race, slowly picking off her competitors as she worked her way through the pack. Burla led the chase pack for much of the morning, steadily closing the gap and taking advantage of the lead pack’s slowing pace through the middle portions of the course. Burla made it through 5 km in 18:09, sitting 31st.

Burla permanently took over the lead in the chase pack at 10 km, bouncing between no man’s land in between the two packs and the front of the chase pack. The USATF half marathon champion came through 10 km in 23rd, remarkably consistent in her splits with an 18:06 split for her second 5 km.

Burla cut the lead pack’s advantage from mere minutes to just :37 seconds, picking up her speed to move up to 21st for a 5 km split of 17:43, getting through 15 km in 53:58. At 20 km, Burla had cut the lead pack’s advantage to just :09 seconds, coming through in 17:30 between 15 km and 20 km, picking off competitors in her path.

As Burla hit the half marathon point, she sat in 17th with a time of 1:15:19 and continued to lead the charge from the chase pack. As she approached 30 km, Burla made a bold move to surpass the chase pack entirely and join the lead pack as the 11th of 12 runners jockeying for position. Burla’s time in the lead pack was short-lived, as the front six separated themselves with just 12 km remaining. Burla hung tough in the chase pack once again, putting herself in prime position for a top-10 finish.

Through 40 km, Burla hit her stride in 2:28:48 and crossed the finish 10th in 2:31:06, the third-fastest marathon of her career and a season’s best.

Erb seemed to have a similar race plan to Burla, registering negative splits while overtaking her competitors. Erb had a consistent start, ticking off 6:00 miles through much of her first 35 km. Her steady pace enabled her to pass competitors with ease, jumping from 48th through 5 km in 18:52 to 38th by the half marathon mark in 1:19:23.

Over the last 7 km is where Erb thrived, shifting into another gear and making her way to the back of the chase pack. Erb charged down the tunnel and into the Bird’s Nest in stunning fashion, storming to the finish and passing two competitors in the process to cross 24th in 2:38:15.

Action concludes in Beijing with Sunday’s evening session.

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Full results from the IAAF World Championships can be found here.

Team USA Medals (16)

Gold (5)

Joe Kovacs - Shot Put (21.93m/71-11.5)

Christian Taylor - Triple Jump (18.21m/59-9, AR)

Allyson Felix - 400 Meters (49.26)

Tianna Bartoletta - Long Jump (7.14m/23-5.25)

Ashton Eaton - Decathlon (9,045 pts., WR)

Silver (5)

Justin Gatlin - 100 Meters (9.80)

Shamier Little - 400m Hurdles (53.50)

LaShawn Merritt - 400 Meters (43.65)

Justin Gatlin - 200 Meters (19.74)

Women’s 4x100m Relay - English Gardner, Allyson Felix, Jenna Prandini, Jasmine Todd (41.68)

Bronze (6)

Michelle Carter - Shot Put (19.76m/64-10)

Trayvon Bromell - 100 Meters (9.92)

Emily Infeld - 10,000 Meters (31:43.49)

Tori Bowie - 100 Meters (10.86)

Cassandra Tate - 400m Hurdles (54.02)

Aries Merritt - 110m Hurdles (13.04)

Broadcast Schedule


Time (ET)



Key Events

Sunday, Aug. 30

2 p.m.

NBC, Live Extra


4x400m relays

Sunday, Aug. 30

5 p.m.

Universal Sports


4x400m relays (re-air)

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