GDYNIA, POLAND - OCTOBER 17: Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the Women's Final Run during the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships on October 17, 2020 in Gdynia, Poland. (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images)

At the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gydnia, Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir smashed the women-only World Record (WR), a record she held prior to the race by 18 seconds, running a fast 1:05:16 to take the title ahead of Germany’s Melat Kejeta who turned in 1:05:18, as Yalemzerf Yehualaw placed 3rd in 1:05:19.

In a very interesting race that featured previous WR holder, Yeshaneh Ababeh, her predecessor Joyciline Jepkosgei, defending champion and former women-only WR holder, Netsanet Gudeta, Jepkosgei a natural front runner, took the initiative for the lead from early on in the race, leading a pack of 13 women past the 5km mark.

Netsanet Gudeta was the first of the favourites to take a fall when she stumbled through a curve at about the halfway mark.

The race went on without much drama, while they were comfortably under WR pace.

A few metres short of 20km, another fall happened and this time, it was the pre-race World Record holders, Jepkosgei and Ababeh who collided, leaving a very strong Jepchirchir the chance to take the title and with a flourish in the form of a new World Record.

In what was the greatest half marathon race of all-time, six women finished under 66 minutes, while nine dipped under 67 minutes.

In only his 2nd race at the distance, Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo at 19, emerged the men’s World Champion, defeating his compatriot, Joshua Cheptegei who has been on a WR rampage this season as he clocked a time of 58:49 that broke the Championship Record (CR) by 10 seconds.

The race started out slow with the athletes passing the first 5km lap in 14:19. At the second 5km mark, they had managed to slip under the 60 minutes pace in 28:23.

Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie, the pre-race World Leader then took the initiative for the lead, marked closely by the young Kiplimo as they passed the 15km mark, covering the third 5km lap in a much faster 13:54, with Cheptegei only a few strides behind.

Looking very comfortable, Kiplimo then began to stretch the lead as Kandie struggled to stay with him, passing the 20km mark in a new Ugandan Record of 55:55 with about a 20 metres lead and then holding his form to become the first Ugandan to win the World Half Marathon title.

Kiplimo has therefore gone undefeated in all of his races in 2020, having run a blazing 7:26.64 in Rome that moved him up to 8th on the all-time 3000m list and also 12:48.63  over 5000m, only 2nd to Cheptegei’s WR on the 2020 Global Toplist.

Kibiwott Kandie was 2nd in 58:54 as Ethiopia’s Amedework Walelegn finished 3rd in a Personal Best (PB) of 59.08, while Joshua Cheptegei winded down 4th in 59:21 (PB).

South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka and France’s Morhad Amdouni posted National Records (NR) in 7th and 8th with 59:36 and 59:40 respectively.

As it was in the women’s event, the men’s race was one of unprecedented depth with 28 men dipping under 61 minutes.

In the team standings, Kenya retained their title from 2018 in 2:58:10 from Ethiopia (2:58:25) and Uganda (2:58:39) while all three teams finished inside the previous Championship Record.


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