Lelisa Desisa

Lelisa Desisa Benti (born 14 January 1990) is an Ethiopian long-distance runner who specialises in road running competitions. Desisa gained his first international medal at the 2009 African Junior Athletics Championships, where he took the 10,000 metres gold medal.[1]

Lelisa Desisa
Lelisa Desisa Benti boston marathon 2013.jpg
Lelisa Desisa Benti, male winner of 2013 Boston Marathon, almost at the end of the Wellesley College scream tunnel.
Personal information
Born (1990-01-14) 14 January 1990 (age 33)
Shewa, Oromia, Ethiopia
Event(s)Long-distance running
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)


Born in Shewa zone, Oromia regional state of Ethiopia,[2] Desisa made his breakthrough on to the senior international scene at road races in 2010, beginning with a sub-60-minute run for third place at the Zayed International Half Marathon in January.[3] He engaged Wilson Kiprop in a sprint finish at the Paris Half Marathon two months later, ending up in second place.[4] He took to the United States road circuit and was sixth at the Crescent City Classic before taking the runner-up spot at the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run behind Stephen Tum.[5][6] He won the Ottawa 10K in May and led an Ethiopian podium sweep with a win at the Bolder Boulder two days later.[7][8] That July, he came third in a sprint for the line at the Peachtree Road Race and won the Boilermaker Road Race in Utica in a near course record time.[9] He received his first senior international call-up for the 2010 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. He came seventh overall, recording a time of 1:01:28 alongside his compatriot Birhanu Bekele to secure the team bronze medal for the Ethiopians.[10] He set a new half marathon best (59:39 minutes) in November at the Delhi Half Marathon and finished one second behind winner Geoffrey Mutai.[11]

He came close to a personal best at the World's Best 10K in February 2011, taking third place in a time of 28:02 minutes.[12] This served as preparation for the City-Pier-City Loop in March, where he came out on top in a five-man sprint finish to record a personal best of 59:37 minutes for the half marathon.[13] In a two-day period, he won the Cooper River Bridge Run and then broke the course record at the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, improving upon a mark that had stood for 16 years.[14] That June he reached the podium at the World 10K Bangalore, coming third behind Kenyan opposition.[15] He was not selected for the World Championships that year but instead won the half marathon at the 2011 All-Africa Games held that same month. In November, he returned to Delhi and ran a best of 59:30 minutes to win the half marathon race, beating Geoffrey Kipsang by a second.[16]

In June 2012, he ran a personal best of 27:18.17 minutes to win the 10,000 metres in Liège. He was selected as an Olympic squad reserve as a result.[17] A 5000 metres best of 13:22.91 minutes came in June, but ultimately he did not compete at the Olympics. He tried to defend his title at the Delhi Half Marathon but managed only seventh place.[18]

In his debut over the marathon distance, he made one of the fastest-ever debuts by winning the 2013 Dubai Marathon in a time of 2:04:45 hours. He was surprised by the quick time and said he would like to make a world record attempt in the future.[2] Three months later, in the 2013 Boston Marathon, he took the victory in a time of 2:10:22. Desisa was not hurt in the Boston Marathon bombing that occurred after his victory because the bombing took place nearly 3 hours after he passed through the finish line.[19] Desisa later, in a widely acclaimed gesture, returned his 2013 Boston Marathon winner medal back to the city, in order to honor the victims of the bombings.[20]

Lelisa Desisa leads Lemi Berhanu Hayle as they pass mile 19 during the 2016 Boston Marathon, but Hayle went on to win; Desisa came in second.

Desisa won the 2015 Boston Marathon on 20 April 2015 with a time of 2:09:17.[21] He came in second in 2016 to fellow Ethiopian Lemi Berhanu Hayle.

On 6 May 2017, Desisa participated in Nike's Breaking2 attempt to run a sub-2-hour marathon. Desisa continued until around kilometer 18, when he began to slow and fell off the projected sub-2-hour pace. Eliud Kipchoge won the race in 2:00:25, Tadese was second in 2:06:51, and Desisa was third with a time of 2:14:10. Although Desisa was way far off from actually breaking the barrier, former athlete and world record holder Paula Radcliffe said: "He is still very young, at only 27... Once he figures it all out and matures a bit more, he will be unstoppable".

Desisa won the 2018 New York City Marathon on 4 November 2018 with a time of 2:05:59.[22]

On 5 October 2019, Desisa became the World champion in men's marathon by running a season's best of 2:10:40 at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha.[23] Less than a month later on 3 November 2019 Lelisa defended his New York City marathon title. However, he DNF and Kenya's Geoffrey Kamworor went on to win the race.

Lelisa had one marathon race in 2020, where he finished 35th at the Valencia Marathon in a time of 2:10:44 in December. Kenya's Evans Chebet won the race in a time of 2:03:00.

In 2021 Lelisa took part in the Ethiopian Olympic Marathon Trials in Sebeta, Ethiopia, he finished 2nd in a close race between winner Shura Kitata, and 3rd place finished Sisay Lemma. Lelisa's performance qualifies him to compete for Ethiopia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games men's marathon. [24]


World Marathon MajorsEdit

World Marathon Majors 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Tokyo Marathon
Boston Marathon 1st DNF 1st 2nd DNF 2nd
London Marathon
Berlin Marathon
Chicago Marathon
New York City Marathon 2nd 3rd DNF 3rd 1st DNF

Personal bestsEdit


  1. ^ Ouma, Mark (31 July 2009). African Junior champs, Day 2. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 November 2010.
  2. ^ a b Butcher, Pat (25 January 2013). Debutant Desisa wins Dubai Marathon in 2:04:45, five men under 2:05. IAAF. Retrieved on 23 February 2013.
  3. ^ Zorzi, Alberto (8 January 2010). Fast wins for Keitany and Regassa in Abu Dhabi Half. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 November 2010.
  4. ^ Vazel, Pierre Jean (7 March 2010). Beating the wind and chill, Kiprop and Bayisa take Paris Half wins. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 November 2010.
  5. ^ Lelisa Desisa Profile Archived 9 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Elite Sports Management. Retrieved on 27 November 2010.
  6. ^ Hage, Jim (12 April 2010). Tum, Chepkurui are Cherry Blossom winners. Washington Post. Retrieved on 27 November 2010.
  7. ^ Desisa and Tune take Ottawa 10Km titles. IAAF (30 May 2010). Retrieved on 27 November 2010.
  8. ^ Stapleton, Arnie (31 May 2010). Ethiopian men finish 1–2–3 in Bolder Boulder. USA Today. Retrieved on 27 November 2010.
  9. ^ Post race interview with Boilermaker 15K Men’s winner Lelisa Desisa. WKTV (10 July 2010). Retrieved on 27 November 2010.
  10. ^ Ramsak, Bob (16 October 2010). Kiprop dethrones Tadese – Men’s Race – Nanning 2010. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 November 2010.
  11. ^ Murali, Ram. Krishnan (21 November 2010). Mergia recaptures women’s crown, Mutai foils Ethiopian sweep at Delhi Half Marathon. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 November 2010.
  12. ^ Clavelo Robinson, Javier (28 February 2011). Kitwara regains title, Ejigu notches victorious 10km debut in San Juan. IAAF. Retrieved on 1 March 2011.
  13. ^ van Hemert, Wim (14 March 2011). Desisa and Chepcirchir take fast Half Marathon wins in The Hague. IAAF. Retrieved on 17 March 2011.
  14. ^ Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa wins Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run. Ethiosun. Retrieved on 14 May 2011.
  15. ^ Krishnan, Ram. Murali (5 June 2011). Limo and Tune prevail in Bangalore 10Km. IAAF. Retrieved on 5 June 2011.
  16. ^ Krishnan, Ram. Murali (27 November 2011). In close races, Desisa and Kabuu prevail in New Delhi Half. IAAF. Retrieved on 27 November 2011.
  17. ^ Hendrix, Ivo (6 July 2012). Rotich 1:43.62, Desisa Benti 27:18.17 in Liège. IAAF. Retrieved on 9 July 2012.
  18. ^ Krishnan, Ram. Murali (30 September 2012). Kipyego, Wude take honours in Delhi – REPORT. IAAF. Retrieved on 23 February 2013.
  19. ^ AP via USA Today: Lelisa Desisa, Rita Jeptoo win Boston Marathon
  20. ^ NYT: His Win Obscured, Runner Left Mark Off the Course
  21. ^ "Lelisa Desisa Wins Second Boston Marathon Crown in Three Year Span". www.baa.org. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  22. ^ "Lelisa Desisa Wins Men's Title at the 2018 New York City Marathon. Mary Keitany Wins the Women's Race". The New York Times. 4 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  23. ^ "Marathon Men − Final − Results" (PDF). IAAF. 5 October 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 June 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  24. ^ "Ethiopian marathon team's road to Tokyo begins with success in Sebeta | REPORTS | World Athletics".

External linksEdit