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Abraham Kiptum breaks half-marathon world record at Valencia

Kiptum shaved five seconds off Zersenay Tadese's previous world record and 51 seconds off his own personal best with a 58:18 finish today

Kenya’s Abraham Kiptum broke through the tape at the Valencia Half-Marathon to shouts of “RĂ©cord! RĂ©cord!” over the loudspeaker in Valencia today. His 58:18 finish set a new world record in the half-marathon, not to mention a 51-second personal best for Kiptum, who ran straight into his coach’s arms for a long embrace after crossing the finish line, much like Eliud Kipchoge did after his world-record-breaking marathon performance at Berlin earlier this fall.

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The previous record of 58:23 was set by Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea at the EDP Lisbon Half-Marathon back in 2010. Tadese was one of the three athletes who ran in the Nike Breaking2 project in 2017.

Kiptum had set a new personal best with his 59:09 finish at the Copenhagen Half-Marathon in mid-September. The IAAF reports there was discussion of pacing to a sub-59 finish at yesterday’s pre-race technical meeting in Valencia, but not of a record attempt.

In near-perfect weather conditions of 11 C and a light breeze, the frontrunners went through the first 5K in 13:56, and 10K slightly behind pace at 28:02, whereafter Kiptum went out ahead and led comfortably for the remainder of the race. He passed 20K in 55:18, three seconds ahead of Tadese’s split at Lisbon eight years ago.

Kiptum is aiming for a 2:05 finish at the Abu Dhabi Marathon on December 7.

Jemal Yimer of Ethiopia finished in second place, with a time of 58:33 (a 27-second personal best), and Abadi Hadi in third. Hadi’s time of 58:44 is almost two minutes better than his previous PB. 

Gelete Burka, centre, on the podium at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend in May 2018. Photo: Canadian Running

In the women’s race, Gelete Burka of Ethiopia overtook Alia Mohamed Saeed of United Arab Emirates for the win, in 1:06:11, an almost two-minute personal best. (Burka won the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon on May 27, 2018, setting a new Canadian soil record in the process.) Saeed finished in 1:06:13, a national record on her first attempt at the half-marathon distance. Finishing in third place was Edith Chelimo of Kenya, in 1:06:17.