For the second time in the last month and the third time in 2021, the women’s 5K road world record has been broken, this time by Norway’s Karoline Grøvdal, who ran an amazing time of 14:39 at a race near Oslo on Saturday. Grøvdal, a two-time Olympian, beat both Beatrice Chepkoech‘s official world record of 14:43 and Beth Potter‘s more recent unofficial record of 14:41.
This is by far the fastest 5K of Grøvdal’s career, shattering her previous personal best (and Norwegian record) of 15:04, a time she ran in October 2020. Her run on Saturday, which was at a small event called the Rekordløpet Gardermoen, even smashed her 5,000m PB on the track, which stands at 14:51.66. Grøvdal’s result adds to an already impressive resume that features national records in the mile (4:26.23), 2,000m (5:41.04), 2,000m and 3,000m steeplechase (6:21.39 and 9:13.35) and 10K (30:32).
In a post-race interview with NRK, Norway’s national broadcaster, Grøvdal said she wasn’t expecting to run anywhere near the world record. “I knew about that time, but that was actually not my focus today,” she said. “I had a goal of improving my Norwegian record, but my form has been good for a long time now.”
Unfortunately, Grøvdal’s record may not be ratified as a world record, just like Potter’s wasn’t after her 14:41 run in the U.K. in early April. Potter’s and Grøvdal’s runs, both of which were faster than Chepkoech’s ratified and official world record, were both set at races without doping control and on courses that weren’t measured by proper officials. When this was mentioned to her after the race, Grøvdal expressed her disappointment.
“If the formalities are not there, then it is incredibly bad of the organizer,” she said. “I can say no more than that.” As Chris Barnes, race director of the Podium 5K in the U.K. (the race where Potter ran her unofficial world record) has noted, though, making sure a race is certified for world records is not cheap, and it can be tough to afford for smaller events like his or the Rekordløpet Gardermoen.
Race organizers spoke with NRK after the run as well, and they said the pandemic was partly to blame for the lack of officials on site on Saturday. There was no one in Norway with the proper certification to measure a ratifiable course, and due to COVID-19 restrictions and the fact that the race was spontaneously organized just a week ago, no official from another European country would have been able to travel to Norway and get out of quarantine (which is 10 days) in time to check the course.
Organizers are now trying to retroactively have the race certified. They plan to have doping control officials test Grøvdal in the coming days and to bring someone to measure the course. It might be too late at this point, though, and Grøvdal’s record, like Potter’s could remain unratified and unofficial.