It might have been just the fourth road race of her career, but Dawit Seyaum – previously a 1500m specialist – stepped up in style in Lille on Saturday (6).

Eight weeks after finishing fifth in a 5km won by her Ethiopian compatriot Senbere Teferi in women-only world record of 14:29 in Herzogenaurach, Seyaum achieved a record-breaking achievement of her own as she improved the global women’s mark for 5km in a mixed race to 14:41* at the Urban Trail Lille event in the French city.

The previous women’s world 5km record set in a mixed gender race was the 14:43 run by Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech in Monaco on 14 February.

After making her road race debut in 2015 when she ran 4:36.0 to win a mile in Boston, Seyaum had switched her attention back to the track and went on to finish fourth in the World Athletics Championships 1500m final in Beijing. World indoor silver would follow in 2016 and she continued to focus on racing on the oval.

But her decision this year to return to the roads has clearly paid off, as she ran 15:10 on her 5km debut in Herzogenaurach on 12 September and then 31:25 for 10km – her furthest race so far – for fourth place in Geneva on 3 October.

Those performances were to provide the perfect platform from which the 25-year-old launched herself for a record-breaking achievement in Lille this weekend.

• Report: Seyaum breaks world 5km record in Lille
• Video: Race coverage


Dawit Seyaum
Born: 27 July 1996. Coach: Efrem Hailu.

Born near Fiche, a town about 120km north of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, as the fifth of six children, Seyaum is the only runner in her family.

Her family never thought too highly of sport, and due to the lack of access to media growing up, Seyaum never had the opportunity to watch legendary Ethiopian athletes on TV. But Seyaum enjoyed the thrill of winning her early races, and once her family caught wind of her success, they became supportive of her sporting pursuits.

Roughly three years after taking up running, Seyaum won some national-level age-group races at the start of 2013, which led to her gaining a professional contract. She was immediately thrust into the spotlight and lined up for the 1500m at the Diamond League meeting in Doha in May that year. Although she finished towards the back of the field, she gained valuable experience that would help her later in the season.

Contesting her first international championships, Seyaum earned the 1500m silver medal at the World U18 Championships in Donestk behind compatriot Tigist Gashaw. Seyaum ended her season on an even bigger high by beating Gashaw to the African U20 title in Bambous in September 2013, clocking a PB of 4:09.00.

But Seyaum’s international career really got going in 2014. In her first race of the outdoor season, she broke the Ethiopian U20 record with 3:59.53 in Marrakech, moving to sixth on the world U20 all-time list. She went on to win world U20 gold in Eugene, before returning to Marrakech in August to take silver at the senior African Championships and making a third trip to the Moroccan city in September to place third at the Continental Cup.

In 2015, despite still being an U20 athlete, Seyaum was a regular on the international circuit, winning at the Diamond League meeting in Doha and achieving top-three placings in Rome and Oslo. She went on to finish fourth at the World Championships in Beijing, crossing the line behind Genzebe Dibaba, Faith Kipyegon and Sifan Hassan.

Seyaum achieved her first senior global medal in 2016, taking silver in the 1500m at the World Indoor Championships in Portland. Outdoors, she clocked a PB of 3:58.09 and finished eighth at the Olympic Games in Rio.

Seyaum has been unable to enjoy full seasons in recent years, but she still managed to record respectable season’s bests between 2017 and 2020. In recent months, she has branched out into the roads. After a fifth-place finish over 5km in Herzogenaurach in September, she recorded a 31:25 PB for 10km in Geneva in October.

Her recent performance in Lille, however, suggests her future could lie either on the roads or with longer distances on the track.


5km world record progression (mixed gender race):
14:48 Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui (KEN) Prague 8 Sep 2018
14:43 Beatrice Chepkoech (KEN) Monaco 14 Feb 2021
14:41 Dawit Seyaum (ETH) Lille 6 Nov 2021
5km all-time list:
14:29** Senbere Teferi (ETH) Herzogenaurach 12 Sep 2021
14:32*** Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN) Prague 9 Sep 2017
14:41 Beth Potter (GBR) Barrowford 3 April 2021
14:41** Dawit Seyaum (ETH) Lille 6 Nov 2021
14:43 Beatrice Chepkoech (KEN) Monaco 14 Feb 2021
14:43 Norah Jeruto (KEN) Lille 6 Nov 2021
14:44 Sifan Hassan (NED) Monaco 17 Feb 2019
14:46 Meseret Defar (ETH) Carlsbad 9 Apr 2006
14:46 Violah Jepchumba (BRN) Prague 10 Sep 2016
14:47 Lornah Kiplagat (NED) Brunssum 28 Mar 2004
Dawit Seyaum’s personal bests:
1500m: 3:58.09, 2016 / 4:00.28i, 2016
Mile: 4:36.0h (road), 2015 / 4:26.84, 2019
2000m: 5:32.40 2021 / 5:35.46 2015
3000m: 8:37.65i, 2017
5km: 14:41, 2021 WR
10km: 31:25, 2021
* subject to the usual ratification procedure
** pending ratification
*** performance came before the 5km became a world record distance in November 2017

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