Joshua Cheptegei ran a 26:11.00 to obliterate Kenenisa Bekele‘s 15-year-old 10,000m record of 26:17.53 in Valencia on Wednesday. The event lived up to its name of NN Valencia World Record Day as fans got to see a 5,000m women’s world record from Letesenbet Gidey just ahead Cheptegei’s metronomic show of strength. Lap after lap, Cheptegei posted consistent times hovering around 63 seconds, and by the time the bell rang signalling 400m to go, there was no doubt that the record was his. This is already the fourth world record of the 24-year-old’s young career (and third of 2020).
🇺🇬 Joshua Cheptegei has done it!
He's just run 10,000m in 26:11.02. 🤯
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) October 7, 2020
Cheptegei has raced on three occasions in 2020. In his first race — a road 5K in Monaco in February — he set the world record of 12:51. In August, after a lengthy hiatus from racing due to COVID-19, he broke the 5,000m record, once again in Monaco, with a 12:35.36. Finally, on Wednesday, he brought his tally to a perfect three for three as he crossed the line six seconds ahead of the previous 10,000m world record.
Coming into the run, his PB was 26:48.36 — a wildly-fast time in its own right, but still 31 seconds off the world record. However, one of the race’s commentators pointed out that his previous 5,000m PB had been 22 seconds slower than Bekele’s world record, and it turned out the 31-second deficit didn’t matter much after all.
— NN Running Team (@NNRunningTeam) October 7, 2020
Through halfway, Cheptegei was on pace to break the record with a 13:07 5K split. Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Chavez pointed out on Twitter that only 16 men in U.S. history have run 13:07 for a standalone 5,000m, and Cheptegei had to run another right after if he wanted a shot at the record.
Despite running solo for the second half of the race (he had pacers helping him out for the first 5K), Cheptegei ran a negative split and smashed the world record. After what one of the commentators described as “25 soul-destroying laps of the track,” Cheptegei is a world record-holder once again, and without a doubt one of the greatest runners alive.