Ethiopians Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar divided the 5000- and 10,000-meter honors for 2013 in an interesting way. Dibaba ran the year's fastest 5000-meter time while Defar had the world-leading time in the 10,000. At the World Championships, however, Defar won the 5000 while Dibaba took the 10,000-meter gold medal, as each runner competed in just one event.
In the 5000, Dibaba ran her world-best 14:23.68 in Paris in July. Defar had the year's third- and fourth-best times, running 14:26.90 in Oslo and 14:32.83 in Zurich. In the latter event, Defar won the Diamond League final and took the overall season championship, gaining three series victories to Dibaba's two. In Moscow, Defar passed a fading Almaz Ayana on the back straight to win in 14:50.19. Mercy Cherono was second and Ayana third.
Defar posted the year's best 10,000-meter time, 30:08.06, in June, at Sollentuna, Sweden. Dibaba had the year's second-best time, finishing in 30:26.67 to win in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Dibaba won the World Championship title by seizing the lead just before the final lap and holding off second-place Gladys Cherono and bronze medalist Belaynesh Oljira.
Kenya's Rita Jeptoo set the world lead in the marathon, winning in 2:19:57 in Chicago. Other key victories during the year included Priscah Jeptoo in London (2:20:15), Feyse Tadese in Paris (2:21:06) and Florence Kiplagat in Berlin (2:21:13). Edna Kiplagat earned the year's biggest marathon prize by defending her World Championship title in Moscow. Kiplagat took charge at the end of the race to win in 2:25:44. Valeria Straneo led most of the way and took a well-earned silver at age 37, while Kayoko Fukushi placed third.