Gotytom Gebreslase wins the Bahrain Half Marathon (© Mahmood Al Hamadi)
Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebreslase and Kenya’s Philemon Kiplimo claimed victory at the Bahrain Royal International Night Half Marathon – a World Athletics Label road race – when the event returned for its second edition on Sunday (12).
After running 2:20:09 to triumph when making her marathon debut in Berlin in September, Gebreslase achieved another impressive result as she improved her half marathon PB to 1:05:36 in Manama to win by 11 seconds ahead of home favourite Kalkidan Gezahegne – the Olympic 10,000m silver medallist who was making her half marathon debut after breaking the world 10km record with 29:38 in Geneva in October.
The men’s race was much closer, with Kiplimo outsprinting his compatriot Collins Koros to the tape – both athletes recording a time of 1:00:01.
The women’s race had got off to a blistering start, with Gebreslase and Gezahegne both part of a group which passed the 5km mark in 14:53, well inside world record pace. The race also featured Kenya’s former world record-holder Ruth Chepngetich, who had run 1:04:02 in Istanbul in April and won October’s Chicago Marathon in 2:22:31, but she ran to around 17km in Manama and did not finish.
Following the fast start, Gebreslase and Gezahegne maintained their pace through 10km, with the clock showing 29:49 – four seconds off the split recorded by Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey en route to the 1:02:52 women’s half marathon record she set in Valencia in October.
The wind had been behind them during the first half of the race and as they looped back the pace dropped, with Gebreslase passing 15km in 45:47 and Gezahegne following five seconds behind her. Chepngetich’s race came to an end a couple of kilometres later.
Gebreslase had increased her lead to 11 seconds by the finish, with the top two clear ahead of the rest of the field. Sheila Kiprotich secured third place in 1:07:01 and was followed by her Kenyan compatriots Irene Cheptai, who was four seconds back, and Daisy Cherotich, who ran 1:07:11, with a total of 11 athletes finishing inside 68 minutes.
Kiplimo led a Kenyan top five in the men’s race and had formed part of a lead group which followed the pacemakers through 5km in 13:58 and 10km in 27:35.
A seven-strong pack passed 15km in 42:24 and things remained close until the final stages, with Kiplimo edging ahead to deny Koros, and Mathew Kimeli finishing third just three seconds back.
Titus Mbishei finished fourth in 1:00:23, one second ahead of Geoffrey Koech, while Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer was sixth in 1:00:29.
World Athletics, with assistance from Alberto Stretti
1 Gotytom Gebreslase (ETH) 1:05:36
2 Kalkidan Gezahegne (BRN) 1:05:47
3 Sheila Kiprotich (KEN) 1:07:01
4 Irene Cheptai (KEN) 1:07:05
5 Daisy Cherotich (KEN) 1:07:11
1 Philemon Kiplimo (KEN) 1:00:01
2 Collins Koros (KEN) 1:00:01
3 Mathew Kimeli (KEN) 1:00:04
4 Titus Mbishei (KEN) 1:00:23
5 Geoffrey Koech (KEN) 1:00:24