© Copyright – 2023 – Athletics Illustrated
Two Kenyan women Irine Jepchumba Kimais and Joyciline Jepkosgei ran faster than the one-hour and five minute benchmark with the 10th and 12th fastest half marathon performances of all time. Meanwhile Charles Kipkurui Langat helped complete a Kenyan double at the Zurich Marato Barcelona on Sunday with his win in 58:53.
It was Kimais over Jepkosgei who clocked 64:37 and 64:46, respectively.
The goal going in was to break Florence Kiplagat’s course record of 65:09 set in 2015. Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia was in on the chase. They ran in a pack until 10K together, where Dibaba began to labour. The pacer dropped at 30:37. By the 20K mark, Kimais began to pull away from Jepkosgei.
“When I was given the chance to compete in Barcelona I didn’t hesitate, as I knew it was a very quick circuit,” said Kimais. “For me, it’s incredible to beat my compatriot Florence Kiplagat’s course record, which has stood unbeaten for many years.”
Finishing in third position was Kenyan Catherine Relin in 65:39 for the Kenyan sweep.
The men’s race started at nearly 57:30-pace with the first km reading 2:43 on the clock. A pack of 15 men nearly made intact to 10K together.
Langat was joined by fellow Kenyans Solomon Kirwa Yego and Josphat Boit as well as the Ethiopian pair of Legese and Gebrie Erikhun. They were at 27:53 at that point, right on pace to break Haftu Teklu’s course record of 59:06 set in 2022.
After the pacer dropped out after 12K of running, it was another Kenya versus Ethiopia race to the finish. Langat and Legese kept the effort honest. The group was down to two at 20K and Langat and Legese duked it out mano-a-mano over the final km.
Langat a near sprint over the final minute to take the title and course record in 58:53. He also set a new personal best.
Taking second and third were Ethiopian Birhanu Legese in 58:59, and Solomon Kirwa Yego 59:29 — both new personal bests.
The women’s world record is 62:52 in a mixed race by Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey from 2021, with men and women competing together. Meanwhile the women’s-only race record is 65:16 by Peres Jepchirchir from the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships. The men’s half marathon record is 57:31 by Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo from Lisbon 2021.