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Joshua Cheptegei breaks 5,000m world record

Looking relaxed throughout, the Ugandan ran almost identical splits to Bekele's

At the first real, full-field track meet of 2020, the world 10,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda has broken Kenenisa Bekele’s world record in the 5,000m, with a performance of 12:35.36 at the Monaco Diamond League on Friday.

Bekele’s record, set back in 2004 at Hengelo when he was 21, was 12:37.35, and 16 years later against a spectacular backdrop at Monaco, Cheptegei has lowered it by almost two seconds.

As commentator Geoff Wightman said during the race, running a 5,000m at this pace is equivalent to running three back-to-back 4:02 miles, and then a very fast final lap.

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With three pacemakers and an electronic rail-lighting system leading the way, the Ugandan took charge of the situation from the start, going through 3,000m in an incredibly quick 7:31 and opening up an 18m lead over Kenya’s Nicholas Kimeli. (Kimeli finished second in 12:51.78, a six-second PB. Jacob Krop of Kenya was third, in 13:11.32.) Cheptegei’s splits were 60.70, 61.70, 60.64, 60.41, 61.25, 60.91, 60.03, 60.10, 60.18, 60.33, 59.97 and 59.64.

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Cheptegei ran incredibly consistent laps, closing in 59.64 and looking relaxed throughout, only grimacing in the last 50m – in fact, he even remembered to stop his watch at the finish line. The Ugandan also owns the 5K world record on the road at 12:51, also set in Monaco, back in February, before the pandemic. 

Here’s a video of Bekele’s 2004 race:

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Bekele is expected to challenge Eliud Kipchoge at the London Marathon on October 4.