Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia ran an incredible race at today’s RAK Half-Marathon in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), setting a new world record of 1:04:31. In 2019, only two Canadian men ran faster times than Yeshaneh’s new PB. Evan Esselink clocked a 1:02:13 at last year’s Houston Half-Marathon and Ben Preisner ran a 1:03:08 in October’s Toronto Waterfront half.
Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh smashes the half marathon world record* to win the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon clocking 1:04:31.💥@Brigidkosgei_ was second in 1:04:49, also inside the previous world record.
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) February 21, 2020
Overall, Canadian men have only broken 64 minutes for the half-marathon 40 times. Sub-64 would be a big improvement on Yeshaneh’s 1:04:31, but the world’s fastest women are well on their way to passing that barrier.
Here’s a look at how the race unfolded for Yeshaneh, Brigid Kosgei and the rest of the field on this record-breaking day.
The women’s race was officially announced to be a world record attempt, with pace Geoffrey Pyego leading the charge. Pyego paced Kosgei to her marathon world record in Chicago last year, and he was able to help Yeshaneh en route to her’s today. Pyego was supposed to take the women out at 1:04:25 pace, 26 seconds faster than Joyciline Jepkosgei‘s record of 1:04:51.
Pyego started things of much quicker, though, and at the 5K checkpoint, the clock read 15:05, and the lead women were on pace for 1:03:32, which would have absolutely shattered the world record. In 2017, when Jepkosgei set the previous record in Prague, she went out even faster in the first 5K, running 14:53 but still managed a world record.
After their quick start, everyone in the lead pack other than Kosgei and Yeshaneh dropped off. The top two women slowed their pace as well, but not as much as their competitors, clocking a 15:12 split for the second 5K. Their 10K time was 30:18, which is faster than Yeshaneh’s PB for the distance on both the road and the track.
The pair was still on pace to beat the world record, although in Jepkosgei’s run she passed through 10K in 30:04, so there was still plenty of time for Yeshaneh and Kosgei to fade as much as or more than she did.
At the 15K point, the two women were still together, duking it out. The race time was at 45:41, and they’d once again slowed, running the previous 5K in 15:23. They were still ahead of the world record pace.
— RAK Half Marathon (@rakhalfmarathon) February 21, 2020
Shortly after they passed 10K, Yeshaneh gapped Kosgei, but it didn’t last long, and the two ultimately reunited for the following few kilometres. After 16K, Yeshaneh made another move, and Kosgei couldn’t respond. If Yeshaneh could keep the pace, she would take the win and the world record.
Yeshaneh’s 5K split from 15K-20K slowed again, dropping to a 15:31, but it was more than enough to drop and stay ahead of Kosgei, who ran a 15:49. Yeshaneh closed out the race well ahead of Kosgei, stopping the clock in 1:04:31, 20 seconds ahead of Jepkosgei’s record. After a blistering opening 5K, Yeshaneh saw her splits slow steadily with a difference between her first and last 5K of 25 seconds, but it didn’t matter in the end, and she held on for the win, a new PB and the fastest women’s half-marathon time in history.