TV commentators urged her to "Keep going! Keep going!" and millions of armchair viewers watched stunned as the runner made one of athletics' epic misjudgements.
The Kenyan-born ace surprised everyone with a sudden sprint finish 400 metres too early – flinging up her arms on the line to celebrate, before easing up behind race leader Sifan Hassan.
But Salpeter grimaced as Turkey's Yasemin Can and Brit Eilish McColgan cruised past her at a steady pace – and she realised her "lap's in concentration".
By then, though the damage had been done.
Salpeter's surge to what she thought was the end had drained both her energy and finishing power.
The sad Lonah fell to the ground in tears after eventually coming fourth in her "second finish".
Dutch ace Hassan celebrated gold in a Championship record 14mins 46secs, while McColgan came second.
But for athletics fans in Berlin and TV followers at home it was Salpeter's medal mishap that will stand out as one of the moments of the Championships.
As the 29-year-old put in her dash to what she believed was the end line, the BBC TV commentator exclaimed: "It's a lap to go! Has Salpeter done the maths? she's going too hard here.
"Salpeter thought she'd finished. Oh, keep going! Keep going! Oh what a mistake!"
"You can see she thought that was the finishing line. And surely now she has wasted herself with that."
And so it proved. No gong but not forgotten.
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