Ababel Yeshaneh wins the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon (© Giancarlo Colombo / organisers)
Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh smashed the world record* to win the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon on Friday (21), clocking 1:04:31 at the World Athletics Gold Label road race.
Marathon world record-holder Brigid Kosgei was a distant second in 1:04:49, but her time was also inside the previous world record of 1:04:51, set by Joyciline Jepkosgei in Valencia in 2017.
Kosgei led for the first half, following pacemaker Geoffrey Pyego as he brought the field through five kilometres in 15:07 – 1:03:47 pace – with nine women in tow. By the time Kosgei reached 10 kilometres in 30:18, only Yeshaneh was able to stick with the Kenyan as Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yelahun led the chase pack some 11 seconds behind.
Roughly one mile after passing 15 kilometres in 45:38, Yeshaneh overtook Kosgei and continued to pull away. Although Yeshaneh’s pace slowed, she was still able to maintain her speed – and world record pace – better than Kosgei and covered the second 10km segment in 30:54.
Yeshaneh crossed the line in 1:04:31 to take 20 seconds off the world record while Kosgei followed in a Kenyan record of 1:04:49. It was revenge of sorts for the Ethiopian, who had finished second at last year’s Chicago Marathon when Kosgei won in a world record of 2:14:04.
Rosemary Wanjiru came through to take third place in 1:05:34, the fastest ever debut half marathon, and the next five women over the line finished inside 67 minutes.
“I didn’t imagine this result,” said Yeshaneh, whose previous best of 1:05:46 had stood as the Ethiopian record for a five-month period between 2018 and 2019. “I am a world record holder!”
Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie took the men’s race in 58:58, also winning by an 18-second margin as compatriot Alexander Mutiso Munyao finished second in 59:16.
Unlike the women’s race which was well inside world record pace throughout, the men’s race never quite hit the target times for each segment. The pacemaker covered the first five kilometres in 14:03, about 59:17 pace, and even then the rest of the field were five seconds adrift.
Having covered 10 kilometres in 28:07, the real racing began about 12 minutes later when Munyao moved into the lead and opened up a gap on Kandie. He still led at 15km, reached in 42:01, but Kandie had not given up.
Kandie, who won the Kenyan cross-country title just six days ago, caught Munyao with about three kilometres to go, eventually pulling away to win in 58:58, a personal best by 21 seconds. Munyao finished second in 59:16, just seven seconds shy of the PB he clocked in Santa Pola last month.
Mule Wasihun, who finished third at the London Marathon last year in 2:03:16, took third place in 59:47, closely followed by Alfred Barkach (59:49) and Vincent Kibor Raimoi (59:51).
1 Kibiwott Kandie (KEN) 58:58
2 Alexander Mutiso Munyao 59:16
3 Mule Wasihun (ETH) 59:47
4 Alfrad Barkach (KEN) 59:49
5 Vincent Kibor Raimoi (KEN) 59:51
6 Leonard Barsoton (KEN) 1:00:02
7 Gabriel Geay (TAN) 1:00:09
8 Joseph Nganga (KEN) 1:00:13
9 Maxwell Rotich (UGA) 1:00:20
10 Abdallah Kibet Mande (UGA) 1:00:35
1 Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) 1:04:31
2 Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 1:04:49
3 Rosemary Wanjiru (KEN) 1:05:34
4 Evaline Chirchir (KEN) 1:06:01
5 Joan Chelimo Melly (KEN) 1:06:16
6 Yalemzerf Yelahun Densa (ETH) 1:06:35
7 Magdalena Shauri (TAN) 1:06:37
8 Vivian Jerono Kiplagat (KEN) 1:06:38
9 Degitu Azimeraw (ETH) 1:07:02
10 Fancy Chemutai (KEN) 1:08:02
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure