This is the feature from Deji Ogeyingbo on the fantastic world record over 5,000 meters by Gudaf Tsegay.

Gudaf Tsegay rises from the ashes of 5000m disappointment in Budapest to become the newly minted world record holder in the event. 

There are moments that define an athlete’s career in Track and Field. A single race that etches their name into the annals of history. For Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay, that moment came at the Prefontaine Classic, setting a world record in the women’s 5000m after the disappointment of not being able to defend her title at the World Championships in Budapest.  

Gudaf Tsegay would run 14:00.21, a new wonderful WR! photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun.

Tsegay’s incredible journey began in Budapest, Hungary, where she captured her maiden 10,000 meters title, clocking an astonishing 31:27.18. This victory led an Ethiopian medal sweep, with Tsegay at the helm, leaving the world record-holder and defending champion, Letesenbet Gidey, and world indoor medallist Ejgayehu Taye trailing in her wake.

The Budapest race was nothing short of a masterpiece. Tsegay’s long strides and unwavering focus propelled her to the front of the pack, setting a blistering pace from the very start. The Hungarian crowd watched in awe as she glided effortlessly around the track, each step drawing her closer to history.

Gudaf Tsegay pushing hard, en route in WR 14:00.21, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun.

Tsegay’s win in Budapest marked the beginning of her remarkable double-record-breaking journey. It was a triumph that showcased her unmatched talent and her ability to perform on the grandest stage. But she left unsatisfied after she faulted in the 5000m, a race that saw her finish 13th in the final. 

The Prefontaine Classic, held in Oregon, was the stage for Tsegay’s second act of brilliance. She needed to make amends for what happened in Budapest. With her maiden 10,000m title still fresh in the memory of fans and athletes alike, she approached the 5,000m with a newfound confidence.

Gudaf Tsegay blasts a 1,500m, photo by Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais.

As the race began, Tsegay once again surged to the front of the pack, setting a pace that left her competitors struggling to keep up. Her form was impeccable, her focus unbreakable, and her spirit unyielding. She seemed to glide effortlessly around the track, a force of nature in pursuit of a world record.

The race’s unfolding drama saw her reach the 4,000m mark in a swift 11:16.89. At this juncture, only Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet remained in her company, but even that wouldn’t last long, as Tsegay had her sights set on another historic performance.

Gudaf Tsegay ran WR 14:00.21 for 5,000m, September 17, 2023, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun

Tsegay’s relentless drive became increasingly evident as she extended her lead over Chebet with two laps to go. With the back straight looming ahead, she surged past the lights, indicating world-record pace.  As she approached the bell lap, the stadium came alive with excitement. The crowd was on their feet, fully aware that they were witnessing something extraordinary. The clock ticked relentlessly toward the elusive 14-minute mark, a milestone that had been tantalizingly out of reach for so long.

Then, in a final, breathtaking burst of speed, Tsegay crossed the finish line just after the 14-minute threshold, stopping the clock at a remarkable 14:00.21. The stadium erupted into jubilant cheers, recognizing the magnitude of the achievement. Tsegay had not only won the race; she had transcended the boundaries of what was thought possible in women’s 5000m.

Gudaf Tsegay, 5000m, World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July15-26, 2022

“I was really angry to not bring back two medals from the World Championships, but I knew from our training I had a lot of potential to do something with my fitness,” said Tsegay, who finished 13th in the 5000m final in Budapest after winning her 10,000m title. “Even though the conditions weren’t perfect (in Eugene), we thought we could do it.”

Tsegay’s extraordinary journey from Budapest’s heartbreak in the 5000m to Oregon’s triumph was a testament to her unyielding commitment to the sport. It was a journey marked by countless hours of training, sacrifices, and unwavering belief in her abilities.

The bell lap begins, Hassan, Tsegay, Women’s 5,000 meters, World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July15-26, 2022, photo by Kevin Morris

But through it all, the world indoor 1500m record-holder Tsegay remained steadfast in her pursuit of greatness. Her journey inspired aspiring athletes worldwide, a reminder that success is not always immediate but is the result of relentless dedication and perseverance. Earlier this year, she ran 4:16.16 for the mile and 8:16.69 for 3000m indoors in February. Also, she ran one of the races of the Rabat Diamond League as she went on to win the women’s 1500m in 3:54.03, an African all-comers’ record.

The women’s 5,000m record had seen remarkable progress in recent years, thanks to a crop of exceptional runners. Kipyegon had laid down the gauntlet with her fine performance in Paris earlier his year. Tsegay’s triumph was the latest chapter in this evolution, a testament to the incredible talent and fierce competition that has pushed her for a long time.

Gudaf Tsegay, Wanda Diamond League
London Athletics Meet
July 23, 2023, London, England, U.K. photo by Kevin Morris

Her journey had come full circle, from Budapest’s heartbreak to Oregon’s triumph, and in that journey, she had not only rewritten the record books but also etched her name in the hearts of all who had followed and remained patient with her.