Naples begins its journey towards being the European Capital of Sport in 2026 with an equalling of the Italian half marathon record by Sofiia Yaremchuk (CS Army). Yaremchuck ran one hour, eight minutes and 27 seconds and finished second in the Napoli City Half Marathon. The event now has the Italian male and female records, confirming it as the fastest half marathon in Italy.

The atmosphere was one of great enthusiasm as nearly six thousand runners from over 70 countries started from Viale JF Kennedy to run 21.097 km on a course full of vistas of the blue of the Bay of Naples. The bay was on one side and Vesuvius in the background on the other, it was a postcard of an exceptional weekend.

The men’s race

The lead group was made up of the Kenyans Brian Kwemoi Kirui, Bernard Kipkurui Biwott, Moses Koech and Charles Kamau Wanjiku, Antony Kimtai and Britain Emile Cairess. They were paced very well by Rop Gideon Kiprotich. He immediately set the right tempo, going through 2K in 5:45 (2:53/km) and 3K in 8:22 (2:47/km). The time at 5K was 13:59, with an average pace of 2:48/km, on target to set a course record.

The pacemakers took the lead pack to 10K in 27:57 (2:47/km) keeping the leaders on track. In the chase group, a few seconds behind, was the first of the Italians, Yassine Rachik who went through 10K in 30:05. Rop (Pace), Kimtai, Biwott and Cairess broke away and made up the lead group that went through 13K in 37:01, as the pace slowed slightly. At 15K the leaders went through in 42:05, with Cairess then dropping slightly off the pace. At one point, Kimtai had a 50m on Brian Kirui. But then with about 3K to go, Kirui launched his attack, surging past Anthony Kimtai and suddenly creating a gap. The gap remained until the finish. There he crossed the line in 59:26 (2:49/km), shaving 11 seconds off his personal best, and equalling the course record. He was swiftly followed by his compatriots Anthony Kimtai in 59:45, who took 45 seconds off his PB. Bernard Kipkurui Biwott in 59:47.

First European, British athlete Emile Cairess said, “Today was a good step forward for me. And I’m pleased with how I committed to the race. It’s frustrating not to have quite gone under the one-hour barrier, which was a big focus for me. But it proves I’m in good shape at this stage in my training. We hit 10K in 27:58 and 15K in 42:05, but in the last 5K I got detached and was on my own. I’m happy with how I continued to stay engaged in the race, and closed the last section well. The Olympics are a major target this year, and my training is therefore focussed on the marathon, so this is a good indicator towards that.’

The women’s race

The lead women were Kenyans Angela Jemesunde Tanui and Nancy Chepleting Meli who started out the race passing 6K in 18:44 (3:07/km). Just before the halfway point, Tanui launched her attack. She passed 10K in 31:28 (3:09/km). By this time she had a 26-second lead on Chepleting who went through in 31:54. A little further back was the first of the Italians Sofiia Yaremchuk. She went through 10K in 32:16 (3:14/km) slightly ahead of her personal best. Yaremchuck was on course for the Italian women’s record. Angela Tanui was in the end, on her own. Being the lead woman, relying only on the pacemaker for company, she crossed the finish line in 1:07:04 (3:11/km). In the performance, she shaved 12 seconds off her personal best. 

“The race was easy at the beginning but then there was a bit of wind that slowed me down. However, I am satisfied, this is my new personal best”, commented the winner. Second place on the podium for the Italian Sofiia Yaremchuk (CS Army) who closes in 1:08:27 (3:15/km) equalling the Italian women’s record. “It’s a wonderful emotion, Naples is always in my heart and brings me luck. The people are wonderful, the cheering of the crowd took me to the finish line with the Italian record,” said Sofiia Yaremchuk. 

“The race went very well. The preparation we did in Kenya paid off, it is a performance that gives us hope for the future when we fly to Paris for the marathon’’. Today Sofiia has acquired a new confidence,” commented Fabio Martelli, Sofiia Yaremchuk’s coach.
Third place went to Nancy Chepleting Meli who faded in the end and finished in 1:10:03.”

Carlo Capalbo, president of the organizing company Napoli Running, was very excited. With tears in his eyes, “I am the happiest man in the world, six thousand people here at our beautiful race. Today we had the full package, we equalled the men’s race record, equalled the new Italian women’s record. Naples as the first city that holds them both. There were as well, many important personal bests. For example, that of the winners, both male and female, and the final times of the winners were of the highest standard. These emotions are the result of a lot of work. If I go back to six years ago, when running stopped in Rome. The committment, perseverance, collaboration, resources and a pinch of luck, today I can’t wait anymore. I want to thank all the institutions. The volunteers, my collaborators, the runners, the public for the trust they have placed in participating in this event. Today all together we have written a new chapter in the history of this wonderful world of road running,” he concluded.