Jepchirchir smashes half marathon world record at RAK
Kenya’s Peres Jepchichir has smashed the world women’s half marathon record by running one hour, five minutes and six seconds at the lucrative Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in UAE on Friday morning to earn over Ksh15m.
Jepchirchir who is also the World Half Marathon champion thus becomes the third woman in history to break the 67 minutes after breaking the previous record of one hour, five minutes and nine seconds set by Florence Kiplagat in Barcelona in 2015.
Jepchirchir took home $50,000 (Ksh 5,182,500) for the win, plus $100,000 (Ksh10,365,000) for breaking the world record, a fact she was unaware of until broadcaster Rob Walker broke the news to her on air after the race.
Jepchirchir tore the fast course to lead a Kenyan 1-4, beating former record holder Mary Keitany (1:05:13) who was only a second outside the previous record to the honours with Joyciline Jepkosgei (1:06:08) sealing the podium.
Keitany, the three-time New York and twice London marathon titleholder became the first woman in history to go under 67 minutes when she ran 1:05:50 at the same race in 2011 that erased Kenyan born Dutch runner, Lornah Kiplagat’s 1:06:25 standard ran way back in 2007 from record books.
Jepchirchir, 23, broke the world record to defeat Keitany as they waged an epic duel in a race that featured arguably the greatest women’s half marathon field ever assembled.
Jepchirchir ran a negative split to break Kiplagat’s 65:09 world record from 2015.
Each of Jepchirchir’s 5k splits in the 21.1 km/13.1 mile race were faster than the previous as she ran 15:37 for the first 5km segment, then 15:27, 15:24 and 15:10 from 15k to 20k to finally drop Keitany. At that point, Jepchirchir was chasing history.
Jepchirchir dug extremely deep for the world record. Her form was completely falling apart as she neared the finish line (she slowed the final 1.0975km, running 15:43 pace for that stretch of the race), her face sporting an intense grimace as her torso swayed from side to side.
Jepchirchir managed to hang on before collapsing immediately after the finish line, where she had to be carried away from the finish area.
The race was not just historic for the time, but whom Jepchirchir beat. Keitany finished as runner-up in 1:05:13 (putting her third on the all-time list), and this was the first time she had lost a half marathon since 2007.
Olympics marathon winner, Jemimah Jelagat Sumgong (1:06:43) finished just outside the medals with Ethiopian track star and two-time Olympics champion, Tirunesh Dibaba (1:06:50) rounding the top five ahead of Beijing 2015 World Championships bronze winner, Helah Kirop (1:07:48) in sixth.
The star-studded race witnessed six Kenyans clinch top-ten finishes with former world junior champion, Veronica Nyaruai (1:09:33) in ninth a place behind Kenyan born Bahraini runner Rose Chelimo (1:08:37).
World Half silver medallist, Bedan Karoki sealed the Kenyan double when he ran a world leading 59 minutes and 10 seconds to win the men’s race.
Karoki who is preparing for his full marathon debut in London this April outsprinted Ethiopia’s Yegrem Demelash (59:19) as former Commonwealth 5000m champion Augustine Choge (59:26) was rewarded with a lifetime best while romping home in third.
Karoki made it through 15k in 42:05 (59:11 pace) alongside Olympic 10k fourth placer Yigrem Demelash of Ethiopia and Choge, who earned World Indoor bronze over 3,000 meters last year.
Karoki continued to push and opened up a 10-meter gap, but he continued to check on his rivals over his shoulders, suggesting that he did not expect his move to be a winning one.
He was correct, and within a few minutes both men had closed the gap, with Choge actually pulling ahead.
The pace remained fair but not brutal from 15k to 20k (14:05) for Karoki, and the three men remained close until about two kilometers remained, when Karoki launched another attack. This time it proved decisive and he coasted home in 59:10, though he, like Jepchirchir fell to the ground just after finishing.
Demelash, who was only fifth at the Houston Half Marathon last month in 61:59, ran a big personal best of 59:19 for second, while Choge’s 59:26 was a 35-second PR.
-Material from LetsRun.com used to compile this report
- Bedan Karoki (KEN) 59:10
- Yigrem Demelash (ETH) 59:19
- Augustine Choge (KEN) 59:26
- Solomon Yego (KEN) 59:50
- Nguse Amlosom (ERI) 60:04
- Peres Jepchirchir (KEN) 65:06 WR
- Mary Keitany (KEN) 65:13
- Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN) 66:08
- Jemima Sumgong (KEN) 66:43
- Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) 66:50
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