Career Results
Elfenesh Alemu Ethiopia

Quick Facts

Represents: Ethiopia
Age: 39 (March 15, 1975)
Hometown: Arsi Province
Residence: Addis Ababa
Affiliation: Nike
Event: Marathon (2:24:29 PB)

Career Highlights

  • 4th, 2004 Olympic Games
  • 1st, 2003 Tokyo Women’s Marathon
  • 2nd, Boston Marathon, 2004 and 2005
  • 6th, 2003 World Championships
  • 6th, 2000 Olympics
  • 5th, 2001 Flora London Marathon (PB)
  • 1st, 2000 Nagano Marathon
  • 5th, 1999 World Championships, (2:28:52)


In winning the 2003 Tokyo Women’s Marathon, Alemu staged a huge upset over 2000 Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi on Takahashi’s home turf, defeating her by more than two minutes. If that victory solidified Alemu’s position as one of the top marathoners in the world, her runner-up performance in Boston in 2004 proved her one of the toughest and most fearless. Despite temperatures that reached 85 degrees Farenheit (29 C), Alemu wanted no part of a sluggish pace and seized the lead early. At 15 miles, she was joined by Catherine Ndereba, and the two would duel shoulder-to-shoulder over the hills for the next 10 miles before Alemu fell victim to back spasms and finished second in 2:24:43. Alemu isn’t the only marathoner in the house, either: in 2003, she married Gezahegne Abera, the 2000 Olympic marathon gold medalist, in a ceremony that made history, exchanging vows in front of 25,000 guests in Addis Ababa stadium. The 600-meter train on her dress is entered into the Guinness Book of Recoords, and her veil was later cut into 1000 pieces, signed by prominent wedding guests and distributed to classrooms as part of an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.