Nairobi — Kenya’s reigning marathon World Champion Ruth Chepngetich smashed the Half Marathon world record in Istanbul on Sunday morning, clocking 1:04:02 to win the race, while Kibiwott Kandie won the corresponding men’s event to complete a Kenyan double.
Chepkoech shaved 29 seconds off the previous record of 1:04:31 held by Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh.
Meanwhile in the men’s race, Kandie who is also the world record holder over the distance, set a new course record of 59:33, cutting the tape ahead of compatriot Geoffrey Kamworor who clocked 59:37 in his first race out of the country since recovering from a motorbike accident last year.
Chepngetich who has won the race twice before in 2017 and 2019, broke away from Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw in the final stages to win by 38 seconds.
Two-time world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri was third in 1:04:51 – the fastest debut half marathon in history. It’s the first time three women have finished inside 65 minutes in one half marathon.
Chepngetich, Yehualaw and Obiri were part of an eight-woman pack in the early stages, passing through five kilometres in 15:07.
That group, which also included marathon world record-holder Brigid Kosgei and fellow Kenyan Joan Chelimo Melly, had been whittled down to five by the 10km marker, which was reached in 30:21.
Kosgei then started to fade, as did Melly, leaving Chepngetich, Yehualaw and Obiri out in front, passing through 15km in 45:29.
Yehualaw attempted a brief stint at the front, but with 55 minutes on the clock, Chepngetich started her long drive for home.
She covered the fourth 5km segment in 15:13, giving her a 22-second lead over Yehualaw at 20km, and maintained her pace to the end, winning in 1:04:02.
Yehualaw, the world half marathon bronze medallist, finished second in 1:04:40, taking six seconds off her PB, while Obiri was third in 1:04:51.
Meanwhile, in the men’s race, world half marathon silver medallist Kandie reeled in early leader Benard Ngeno with about 12 minutes remaining before going on to open up a gap of his own.
Three-time world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor made up a bit of ground with about half a kilometre to go, but Kandie dug in and maintained his lead to the end to win by three seconds.
Roncer Kipkorir was third in 59:46.
-Additional reporting by World Athletics