Ruth Chepngetich ran away from a loaded field at the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon on Sunday (28) to win the ninth edition of the IAAF Gold Label road race in 1:06:06, the fastest half marathon ever recorded in Japan.
The Kenyan, who won this year’s Dubai Marathon in 2:17:08, took 98 seconds off the previous course record set by world record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei in 2017.
Chepngetich set out fast and by 5km (15:10), the lead pack consisted of just three runners – Chepngetich, Joan Melly Chelimo and Evaline Chirchir.
But Chirchir and then Melly were dropped before Chepngetich reached 10km in 30:45. She continued to push the pace, passing 15km in 46:44 and 20km in 1:02:41, winning comfortably in 1:06:05.
Melly Chelimo was nearly two minutes behind with 1:08:01 and Chirchir was third in 1:08:07, improving her PB by more than four minutes. World marathon champion Rose Chelimo was never a factor and finished seventh with 1:12:58.
In contrast to the women’s race, a large lead pack formed during the early stages of the men’s race as 10 men were together at 5km (14:18). When course record-holder Bedan Karoki started to push the pace 20 minutes into the race, the lead pack reduced immediately to five men.
The leader’s pace soon slackened and Japanese half marathon record-holder Yuta Shitara joined them in front. Seven runners were in the lead pack at 10km (28:42), then Nicholas Kosimbei made a bid to break away about 37 minutes into the race, and only Karoki and Amos Kurgat were able cover the move.
When Kurgat started to push the pace three minutes later, only Karoki went with him. But soon even Karoki was slowly drifting backward. Kurgat’s two-second advantage at 15km (43:05) grew to 30 seconds by 20km (57:29) and he crossed the line in a PB of 1:00:34.
It was his second consecutive half marathon victory and PB, following his 1:01:06 run at the Japanese Corporate team Half Marathon Championships in February. Karoki, the 2014 champion, finished second in 1:01:07.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
1 Amos Kurgat (KEN) 1:00:34
2 Bedan Karoki (KEN) 1:01:07
3 Abraham Kipyatich (KEN) 1:01:30
4 Silas Kingori (KEN) 1:01:31
5 Yuta Shitara (JPN) 1:01:36
6 Nicholas Kosimbei (KEN) 1:01:43
7 Jonathan Ndiku (KEN) 1:01:55
8 Ezekiel Chebotibin (KEN) 1:02:29
1 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 1:06:06
2 Joan Melly Chelimo (KEN) 1:08:01
3 Evaline Chirchir (KEN) 1:08:07
4 Mimi Belete (BRN) 1:08:16
5 Gotytom Gebreslase (ETH) 1:10:16
6 Miyuki Uehara (JPN) 1:11:03
7 Rose Chelimo (BRN) 1:12:58
8 Ana Dulce Felix (POR) 1:14:14
Kerio leads Kenyan sweep, Insermu heads Ethiopian sweep in Madrid
Kenya’s Reuben Kerio and Ethiopia’s Shasho Insermu set race records at the 42nd Rock ’n’ Roll Madrid Marathon, crossing the line of the IAAF Gold Label road race in 2:08:18 and 2:26:24 respectively on Saturday (27).
While the 25-year-old Kerio led a Kenyan clean sweep of medals, Insermu obliterared the previous record by over four minutes, getting the better from her fellow Ethiopian Fetale Dejene Tsegaye on a perfect day (10C at the start).
Led by pacemakers Emmanuel Bett of Kenya and Ugandan cross-country specialist Timothy Toroitich, the main pack set off at a steady 3:03/km pace. The opening 10 kilometres were covered in 30:39 with 16 men still in the lead.
The pace increased in the following five-kilometre section and they went through 15km in 45:33 and reached the half-way point in 1:03:54 with Toroitich still in the lead. Bernard Kiprop Koech, Kiprotich Kirui, Kipkemoi Kipsang and Ethiopia’s Sisay Jisa ran closest to the pacemakers by then.
With the clock reading 1:19, Jisa fell injured and was forced to stop. Shortly afterwards Eliud Barngetuny lost contact with the main pack at the 29th kilometre.
Once Toroitich dropped out, Kirui took charge of the pace and only Kerio, Kipsang and Kiptoo managed to stay at his shoulder while the local favourite Javier Guerra could not live with their pace and ran in fifth alongside Nicholas Kirwa.
The lead pack reached 30km in 1:31:08 and with four men still in the group it became clear they were on pace to break the race record of 2:09:15.
The long-legged Kerio made his move at the 36th kilometre and he soon opened a clear gap over Kipsang, Kirui and Kiptoo. By 40km (2:01:35) the leader had built a 22-second margin on Kipsang and 24 on Kirui, having both secured podium places in detriment of a fading Kiptoo.
Kerio crossed the finish line in 2:08:18 to take nearly a full minute off the previous race record. Kipsang (PB of 2:08:58) and Kirui (2:09:05) also dipped inside the previous mark set in 2014. To the delight of the crowd, Guerra finished fifth in 2:10:19, a couple of seconds behind Kiptoo.
“This is my first win at an IAAF Gold Label event so I’m over the moon,” said Kerio. “In addition I ran 2:08 low which means a much faster time competing at sea level so I hope to be in the 2:05 region shortly.”
Paced by compatriot Fikadu Kebede, Ethiopia’s Shasho Insermu, a 2:23:28 performer, set out with the intention of breaking the 2:30:40 race record set last year, but she had a hesitant first 10km, covered in 35:41 in the company of compatriots Tsegaye Dejene, Beshadu Bekele, Gebeyanesh Ayele and Hemila Wortessa.
Shortly after 15km, reached in 52:24, Insermu had built up a sole lead while her three compatriots ran together, helped by 2006 5000m European champion Jesús España, a recreational runner nowadays after his retirement last summer
Insermu, contesting her 11th marathon, cruised to the half-way point in 1:13:00, some 1:15 ahead of record schedule and 20 seconds clear of debutant Tesfaye, Bekele and Ayele.
Taking advantage of Kebede’s pacing duties, Insermu maintained her rhythm for the rest of the event, despite the second half of the circuit being the toughest part.
By 30km, reached in 1:43:28, the leader still held a 20-second advantage over Tesfaye but Bekele and Ayele’s speed decreased dramatically as they lost 1:48 by then. Finally, the gap between the experienced Insermu and debutant Tesfaye increased and the only question remaining was how much the course record would be broken by.
The 26-year-old Insermu won in style in 2:26:24 with a 41-second advantage over Tesfaye while Bekele completed an Ethiopian sweep in 2:32:15.
“Once I knew I would run in Madrid in April, I set myself the goal of setting a new race record as a lot of people said it was not possible to dip under the 2:30 barrier,” said Insermu. “I thought I might clock 2:27 so my performance was even beyond expectations.”
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
1 Reuben Kerio (KEN) 2:08:18
2 Kipkemoi Kipsang (KEN) 2:08:48
3 Kiprotich Kirui (KEN) 2:09:05
4 Edwin Kiptoo (KEN) 2:010:17
5 Javier Guerra (ESP) 2:10:19
1 Shaso Insermu (ETH) 2:26:24
2Fetale DejenTsegaye (ETH) 2:27:06
3 Beshadu Bekele (ETH) 2:32:16
4 Gebeyanesh Ayele (ETH) 2:35:11
5 Pauline Thitu (KEN) 2:39:08
Kotut and Khapilina break course records in Krakow
The PZU Cracovia Marathon on Sunday (28) was a historic one. The first time that the race was included in the IAAF Bronze Label road race series, the day ended with course records for both men and women.
On a cool and rainy morning in Krakow, Cybrian Kotut of Kenya ran negative splits to take the victory in 2:09:18, beating the old mark of 2:11:26.
Viktoriya Khapilina of Ukraine caused a major upset with a runaway victory in the women's race in 2:28:03. The time knocked 11 seconds off the course record, and remarkably represented a personal best by nearly eight minutes.
After an initial steady pace in the men's race, with the halfway point reached in 1:05:11, a three-man leading group emerged before the 30km point. There were no major surprises regarding the composition of that trio, with Kotut, Kentaro Nakamoto and Philip Kangogo all among the pre-race favourites.
A few minutes later only two were left at the front as Kangogo started to lose ground on the leaders. Soon after, Nakamoto also started to struggle with the pace pushed by Kotut. The Kenyan leader continued to look strong as he increased the distance between himself and his rivals all the way to the finish.
Kotut's fourth 10-kilometre segment of the race was his fastest at 30:12 as he continued unchallenged at the front. He broke the tape in 2:09:18, more than two minutes inside the previous course record.
Nakamoto held on to take a clear second place, albeit well beaten in 2:11:34. There was another significant gap to Kangogo, who reached the finish in 2:13:46, followed by another Kenyan, Josphat Leting, with 2:14:40.
Khapilina, with a previous best of just 2:35:55, did not enter the women's race as a favourite, but she ran an inspired race. After a half-way split of 1:13:53 – faster than her standalone half marathon PB – she broke away from the Ethiopian duo of Askale Magarsa Tafa and Demitu Hawas. From that point on, her lead only continued to grow.
Khapilina’s second half was nearly as fast as the first. Despite showing signs of tiredness in the closing stages, she finished in an impressive time of 2:28:03, just inside the course record set in 2011 by compatriot Tetyana Gamera.
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF