Peres Jepchirchir broke the world record* in the women’s half marathon today, clocking 1:05:06 at the RAK Half half marathon in Ras al-Khaimah, UAE.
The 23-year-old Kenyan, who won the world title over the distance in 2016, knocked three seconds from the previous record set by her compatriot Florence Kiplagat in Barcelona two years ago.
On the way to this unexpected mark –she suffered from pneumonia for two months at the end of 2016- Jepchirchir also clocked the 1:01:40 at 20km, the fastest ever in a mixed race, 14 seconds faster than Kiplagat’s performance, also set in Barcelona.
Behind her, three-time RAK champion Mary Keitany smashed her own best, and very nearly the old world record, with a 1:05:13 clocking, while Joyciline Jepkosgei ensured a Kenyan clean sweep, crossing the newly positioned finish line in 1:06:08, a personal best by almost three minutes.
In the men’s contest, IAAF World Half Marathon Championship and World Cross Country silver medallist Bedan Karoki, so often the bridesmaid on road, track and cross-country, surged to victory over the last three kilometres, in a time of 59:10.
Karoki richly deserved the win and the four-second personal best, having contributed enormously to the fast tempo being maintained in the second half of the race, once the pacemakers had stepped aside.
In second, last year’s fastest 10,000m runner Yigrem Demelash of Ethiopia, clocked 59:19, a lifetime best by 29 seconds, while the remarkable Augustine Choge, in only his third ever half marathon outing, also broached new ground with 59:26.
Tim Hutchings (organisers) for the IAAF
1. Bedan Karoki, KEN 59:10
2. Yigrem Demelash, ETH 59:19
3. Augustine Choge, KEN 59:26
4. Solomon Yego, KEN 59:50
5. Nguse Amlosom, ERI, 1:00:04
1. Peres Jepchirchir, KEN 1:05:06
2. Mary Keitany, KEN, 1:05:13
3. Joyciline Jepkosgei, KEN, 1:06:08
4. Jemina Sumgong, KEN, 1:06:43
5. Tirunesh Dibaba, ETH, 1:06:50
*subject to the usual ratification procedures