Once again, the Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half-Marathon in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) propelled several world class road racers to fast clockings. Dominated by Kenyans and Ethiopians, the 2018 edition of one of the world’s fastest half-marathons saw two course records, an almost-world record, and several other stunning finishing times.
In the women’s race, 23-year-old Kenyan runner Fancy Chemutai claimed top spot, crossing the line in 64:52, one second shy of her compatriot Joyciline Jepkosgei’s world record, set only four months ago in Valencia, Spain. Jepkosgei, dealing with the flu, held on for fifth-place.
Chemutai broke away from the women’s-only marathon world record holder, Mary Keitany, who is 13 years Chemutai’s senior. The veteran runner fell behind with only 100m to go. Eleven women, eight of who from Kenya, dipped under the 70-minute barrier.
The men’s race was not nearly as close. Olympian and defending RAK Half-Marathon champion Bedan Karoki won handily, setting a new course record of 58:42. His mark bested Patrick Makau’s previous course record of 58:52, set in 2009. Karoki blitzed his nearest competitor, 21-year old Ethiopian Jemal Yimer, by 18 seconds. Yemen’s performance, however, constitutes the best half-marathon debut in world history.
Seven men (six Kenyans and one Ethiopian) dipped under 60-minute barrier. Lelisa Desisa, the Ethiopian runner who, along with Eritrean Zersenay Tadese and Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, was selected to partake in Nike’s Breaking2 project, finished in 10th, clocking 1:00:28.
Despite the fast times, Tadese’s half-marathon world record still stands at 58:23.
According to RAK Half-Marathon’s media, the climate was conducive to fast times. The winds were negligible at race time, and the temperature hovered around the low teens.