Running in a small elite field at the Monaco Run 5K on Sunday, Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech destroyed her competitors to take the win in world-record time, breaking the tape in a blazing 14:43. Chepkoech’s time beat Sifan Hassan‘s previous world record by one second. Joshua Cheptegei won the men’s race in 13:14, falling well short of the 5K world record that he set at the same event in Monaco in 2020.
Chepkoech’s new 5K best is her second world record, adding to her 3,000m steeplechase PB of 8:44.32, which she ran in 2018 (also in Monaco). Going into Sunday’s race, she hadn’t run a competitive 5K since 2014, when she ran an underwhelming PB of 16:25. She proved that she has grown considerably since then, bettering her time by more than a minute and a half.
Right from the start of the race, there wasn’t much doubt that Chepkoech would take the win, but the run was still extremely suspenseful as she battled to break the world record (which Hassan ran in 2019 at the same race in Monaco). Chepkoech eked out the record in thrilling fashion, crossing the line just ahead of Hassan’s mark. Second place went to Meraf Bahta of Sweden, who finished a full minute after Chepkoech, running 15:46.
Beatrice Chepkoech has broken the women's 5km road world record 🙌🙌🙌
And she did it in some tough conditions! #bbcathletics
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 14, 2021
While Cheptegei ran an incredibly fast race on Sunday, he finished 23 seconds back of the 12:51 world record he set last year. He could be disappointed by this result, as he grew accustomed to breaking world records in 2020 (he set three world records in four races last year), but his slower run at this year’s event is hardly cause for concern.
In Monaco in 2020, he became the first runner to break 13 minutes in a 5K road race. He ran away from the rest of the field at an impossible pace, but he held on for the historic result. It was an amazing time, and it’s understandably going to be a tough mark to beat, even for Cheptegei himself. He still ran the seventh-fastest 5K in history on Sunday, and he looks sharp as he starts his season.
— NN Running Team (@NNRunningTeam) February 14, 2021
Chepkoech’s time is technically the world record, but it’s not the fastest 5K in history. That result belongs to fellow Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, who ran 14:32 en route to the 10K road world record at a race in Prague in September 2017. Unfortunately for Jepkosgei, World Athletics officially recognized the 5K as a world record event in November 2017, just two months after her amazing run in Prague. Because of this, her 5K time was not ratifiable, and although it’s 11 seconds faster than Chepkoech’s, it’s not the world record.
The same went for the men’s record until Cheptegei ran 12:51 last year. Up to that point, the fastest 5K in history belonged to Kenya’s Sammy Kipketer, who ran 13:00 at a race in California in 2000. The world record that Cheptegei beat, however, was Rhonex Kipruto‘s 13:18 result from earlier in 2020.
Regardless of technicalities, Chepkoech’s run on Sunday was amazing, and she has proven that she is someone to watch in all forms of racing, whether that’s on the track, in the steeplechase or on the road.