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1983 World Championships in Athletics Helsinki, Finland

1983 1st IAAF World Championships - Helsinki - Women's Marathon



Host City: Helsinki, Finland
Dates: 7–14 August 1983
Nations participating: 153
Athletes participating: 1,355
    Main venue: Helsinki Olympic Stadium
Overview by IAAF   Helsinki Olympic Stadium 
There were few more popular winners in Helsinki than the first of the week’s gold medallists, Waitz. The four times New York marathon winner showed her experience by ignoring the break of Regina Joyce at 17Km. In very hot conditions, the Irishwoman built up a lead of 30 seconds from Brown, Smekhnova and Waitz at 20Km. The chasers, led by Waitz, closed thereafter and the Norwegian took over at around 33Km. A sub-17:00 5Km section gave Waitz a 25- second lead from Smekhnova at 35Km. At this point, Brown was third before being forced to drop out with a sore achilles. Meanwhile, Waitz speeded up. She clocked 16:22 for the 5Km section up to 40Km and entered the stadium three minutes clear. On finishing, she was immediately necklaced with a massive laurel wreath which she later placed carefully on the side of the track before starting a victory lap. Smekhnova came into the stadium in second place, but was passed by Dickerson. European Champion Mota took fourth while fifth place went to Gareau, who ran an extra 120m round the track before realising she had already finished the race. “It was the first time I’ve run a tactical race,” said the winner, “and I liked it.”

The women's marathon was one of the road events at the 1983 World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki, Finland. It took place on 7 August 1983, starting and finishing at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium. The race was won by Norway's Grete Waitz in 2:28:09, ahead of Marianne Dickerson of the United States in second and the Soviet Union's Raisa Smekhnova in third.

In warm conditions, Rumiko Kaneko of Japan and Ireland's Carey May led in the early stages, before Jacqueline Gareau of Canada took over, trailed by a pack of runners which included two of the favourites, Waitz and Julie Brown. Ireland's Regina Joyce took the lead by the 12-mile (19 km) point, and opened a gap of around 30 seconds ahead of the chasing group. After 19 miles (31 km), she was caught by a group led by Waitz, who was increasing the pace of the race. Gradually those running with her dropped back, leaving her to win the race by three minutes. Smekhnova was just ahead of Dickerson when they entered the stadium, but was passed by the American in a sprint finish.


The women's marathon was not an established event at international level. It had not featured in the Olympic Games, and had only become popular during the 1970s. Historically, some experts claimed that running the marathon distance, 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 km), was dangerous for women's health. As it gained prominence through the 1970s, there were calls for it to be added to the Olympics, though there was significant opposition. The governing body for athletics, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF, now World Athletics) announced that it would be added to the programme for the inaugural World Championships in Athletics in 1983, making it the first global championships to feature a women's marathon.

In 1983, an American runner, Joan Benoit established a new fastest time for the women's marathon, when she ran 2:22:43 at the 1983 Boston Marathon; cutting almost three minutes off the previous fastest time, held jointly by Allison Roe of New Zealand and Norway's Grete Waitz. Of the three, only Waitz was taking part in the World Championships: Benoit did not run in the Avon International Marathon in Los Angeles, which the United States used as a qualifying race, choosing to focus on shorter distances instead. In Benoit's absence, The Observer and The Times described Waitz as the favourite for the race. The American press rated Julie Brown as their best chance of victory in the race; writing in the Hartford Courant, Amby Burfoot said that despite the fact Waitz had beaten Brown in their previous meetings, Brown had "recently brought a new maturity to her road racing".

The race started at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium, and moved onto the streets of Helsinki, following an undulating course that Brown suggested would prevent fast times. The course passed Helsinki's docks, looped around the shore road, and past Market Square. After looping through downtown Helsinki, they returned to the stadium along the same route, to finish on the track.


The race started at 15:05 local time on 7 August 1983, the opening day of the Championships, in clear, dry conditions, with temperatures of around 21 °C (70 °F). Early on, Japan's Rumiko Kaneko and Ireland's Carey May led, passing the 3.1 miles (5 km) mark in 18:14. Canada's Jacqueline Gareau then established a small lead, passing the 6.2-mile (10 km) mark in 36:13, around 20 yards (18 m) ahead of a pack which included: Waitz of Norway; all three United States runners, Marianne Dickerson, Debbie Eide and Brown; Rosa Mota of Portugal; Italy's Laura Fogli and May from Ireland. Two miles (3.2 km) later, Gareau still led, and the pack behind her had grown to include 13 runners. David Miller, a journalist for The Times, criticised her inexperience in pressing ahead too early, but Gareau said it was the only way she could secure a good finishing position. Her lead, which peaked at around 30 seconds, was eroded and she was passed by Ireland's Regina Joyce between 10 and 12 miles (16 and 19 km) into the race. Waitz asked Brown if she thought they should go with her, but Brown said no: "She'll come back to us".

Joyce, who had also opened up a lead of 30 seconds at one stage, led the race until the 19-mile (31 km) mark, when a surge from Waitz broke up the chasing group, and she led a smaller pack of five runners at the front. Along with Waitz were two Soviet athletes, Lyutsia Belyayeva and Raisa Smekhnova, Dickerson and Joyce. Running into the wind, they formed a single-file procession behind Waitz. Two miles (3.2 km) later, Waitz was clear at the front; Smekhnova had tried to stay with her for as long as possible, but Waitz continued to extend her lead. Brown was unable to match the leaders' pace from around the 20-mile (32 km) stage due to an Achilles injury, and dropped out of the race completely three miles later. Behind, Joyce had dropped out of medal contention when she had to stop for a toilet break, leaving Dickerson to vie with Smekhnova for second place. The American athlete was around 130 yards (120 m) behind Smekhnova with 3.2 miles (5.1 km) of the race remaining, but was closing the gap. Waitz won the race in 2:28:09, and had time to complete a victory lap before Smekhnova narrowly led Dickerson as they entered the stadium. Dickerson had enough energy left for a sprint finish, and passed Smekhnova on the bend of the track, and finished second in 2:31:09, exactly three minutes behind Weitz, and four seconds ahead of Smekhnova, who claimed the bronze medal. Mota finished in fourth, while the early race leader, Gareau, placed fifth. Waitz, who was running her first female-only race, said that it changed her tactics significantly, as there were not men around her to share the pacing responsibilities: "Here, the final time didn't really matter. The idea was to win the Championship."

  Marathon 7 August
1 Grete Waitz NOR 1 Oct 53 2.28.09
2 Marianne Dickerson USA 14 Nov 60 2.31.09
3 Raisa Smekhnova URS 16 Sep 50 2.31.13
4 Rosa Mota POR 29 Jun 58 2.31.50
5 Jacqueline Gareau CAN 10 Mar 53 2.32.35
6 Laura Fogli ITA 5 Oct 59 2.33.31
7 Regina Joyce-Bonney IRL 7 Feb 57 2.33.52
8 Tuija Toivonen FIN 1 Mar 58 2.34.14
9 Joyce Smith GBR 26 Oct 37 2.34.27
10 Lyutsia Belyayeva URS 22 Jun 57 2.34.44
11 Rita Marchisio ITA 13 Feb 50 2.35.08
12 Debbie Eide USA 31 Jan 56 2.36.17
13 Carey May IRL 19 Jul 59 2.36.28
14 Glenys Quick NZL 29 Nov 57 2.37.14
15 Monika Lövenich FRG 3 Nov 55 2.39.19
16 Marja Vartiainen FIN 2.39.22
17 Carla Beurskens NED 10 Feb 52 2.39.25
18 Karolina Szabó HUN 17 Nov 61 2.40.23
19 Christa Vahlensieck FRG 27 May 49 2.40.43
20 Magda Ilands BEL 16 Jan 50 2.40.52
21 Cindy Hamilton CAN 2.41.27
22 Kath Binns GBR 13 Jan 58 2.42.12
23 Zoya Ivanova URS 14 Mar 52 2.43.27
24 Ngaire Drake NZL 11 May 49 2.43.51
25 Jill Colwell AUS 2.45.07
26 Jackie Turney AUS 2.45.43
27 Sinikka Kiippa FIN 2.46.10
28 Dorothy Goertzen CAN 2.46.38
29 Kersti Jacobsen DEN 2.46.48
30 Ilona Zsilak HUN 2.46.48
31 Mieko Tajima JPN 2.47.10
32 Tuulikki Raisanen SWE 2.47.29
33 Jarmila Urbanova TCH 2.48.28
34 Mary O'Connor NZL 2.48.44
35 Yuko Gordon HKG 2.48.51
36 Zehava Shmueli ISR 2.49.07
37 Mette Holm-Hansen DEN 2.49.43
38 Lone Dybdahl DEN 2.49.43
39 Megan Sloane AUS 2.51.11
40 Elizabeth Oberli-Schuh VEN 2.51.30
41 Evy Palm SWE 2.51.49
42 Heidi Jacobsen NOR 2.52.51
43 Midde Hamrin SWE 2.52.53
44 Deirdre Foreman-Nagle IRL 2.53.07
45 Iciar Martinez ESP 2.53.24
46 Rita Borralho POR 2.53.41
47 Oddrun Hovsengen NOR 2.54.04
48 Maria-Luisa Ronquillo MEX 2.56.33
49 Rumiko Kaneko JPN 2.58.53
50 Yong-Hi Son PRK 2.59.10
51 Myong-Suk Kim PRK 3.12.41
- Julie Brown USA DNF
- Yueh-Mei Kao TPE DNF
- Jinmei Wu CHN DNF
- Kandasamy Jayamani SIN DNF
- Chantal Langlace FRA DNF
- Yupin Lohachart THA DNF
- Alba Milana ITA DNF
- Charlotte Teske FRG DNF
- Marie-Christine Deurbroeck BEL DNS
- Glynis Penny GBR DNS
- Chu Winnie Ng Lai HKG DNS
- Amy Cesaretti SMR DNS

07 AUG 1983 

  Lyutsia Belyayeva URS URS    
  Carla Beurskens NED NED    
  Kath Binns GBR GBR    
  Rita Borralho POR POR    
  Julie Brown USA USA 2:26:26 2:26:26
  Amy Cesaretti SMR SMR 3:10:00 3:10:00
  Jill Colwell AUS AUS    
  Marie-Christine Deurbroeck BEL BEL    
  Marianne Dickerson USA USA    
  Ngaire Drake NZL NZL    
  Lone Dybdahl DEN DEN    
  Debbie Eide USA USA    
  Laura Fogli ITA ITA    
  Deirdre Foreman-Nagle IRL IRL    
  Jacqueline Gareau CAN CAN    
  Dorothy Goertzen CAN CAN    
  Yuko Gordon HKG HKG    
  Cindy Hamilton CAN CAN    
  Midde Hamrin SWE SWE    
  Mette Holm-Hansen DEN DEN    
  Oddrun Hovsengen NOR NOR    
  Magda Ilands BEL BEL    
  Zoya Ivanova URS URS    
  Heidi Jacobsen NOR NOR    
  Kersti Jacobsen DEN DEN    
  Kandasamy Jayamani SGP SGP    
  Regina Joyce IRL IRL    
  Rumiko Kaneko JPN JPN    
  Yueh-Mei Kao TPE TPE    
  Raisa Katyukova-Smekhnova URS URS    
  Sinikka Kiippa FIN FIN    
  Myong-Suk Kim PRK PRK    
  Chantal Langlace FRA FRA    
  Yupin Lohachart THA THA 2:48:27 2:48:27
  Monika Lövenich FRG FRG    
  Rita Marchisio ITA ITA    
  Icíar Martínez ESP ESP    
  Carey May-Edge IRL IRL    
  Alba Milana ITA ITA    
  Rosa Mota POR POR    
  Winnie Ng HKG HKG    
  Mary O'Connor NZL NZL    
  Elizabeth Oberli-Schuh VEN VEN    
  Evy Palm SWE SWE    
  Glynis Penny GBR GBR    
  Glenys Quick NZL NZL    
  Tuulikki Räisänen SWE SWE    
  Maria Luisa Ronquillo MEX MEX    
  Zehava Shmueli ISR ISR 2:40:29 2:40:29
  Megan Sloane AUS AUS    
  Joyce Smith GBR GBR    
  Yong-Hi Son PRK PRK    
  Karolina Szabó HUN HUN    
  Mieko Tajima JPN JPN    
  Charlotte Teske FRG FRG    
  Tuija Toivonen-Jousimaa FIN FIN    
  Jackie Turney AUS AUS    
  Jarmila Urbanova TCH TCH    
  Christa Vahlensieck FRG FRG    
  Marja Vartiainen FIN FIN    
  Grete Waitz NOR NOR    
  Jinmei Wu CHN CHN    
  Ilona Zsilak HUN HUN  




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