Kenyan marathon world champion Ruth Chepngetich shattered the half-marathon world record on Sunday, running an amazing 1:04:02 at the highly anticipated Istanbul Half-Marathon in Turkey. The time to beat going into the race was 1:04:31, a result that Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh ran in 2020, and Chepngetich shaved a whopping 29 seconds off the world record, coming within a few metres of running the first-ever sub-1:04 half-marathon.
World record in Istanbul!
Ruth Chepngetich smashes the world half marathon record in 1:04:02. pic.twitter.com/qQ7HC0LZM1
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) April 4, 2021
Chepngetich’s world record
When organizers of the Istanbul Half-Marathon released the start lists for their race, it was clear the run had the potential to produce some all-time great results. The race was set to feature a number of world-class athletes, including Chepngetich (a two-time champion in Istanbul), her fellow Kenyan Brigid Kosgei (the marathon world record holder) and Ethiopian half-marathon record holder Yalemzerf Yehualaw, among others.
The Istanbul Half delivered exactly as expected, producing an exciting race from start to finish. The race started with a tight pack of women, and by 10K, which they passed in 30:21, there were five runners battling for the lead. Chepngetich, Kosgei and Yehualaw were in contention, joined by Kenyans Hellen Obiri (who was making her half-marathon debut) and Joan Chelimo Melly.
Not long after the halfway mark, Melly and Kosgei fell off the pace, and Chepngetich, Yehualaw and Obiri were left to fight for the top spot. With just a few kilometres to go, Chepngetich made the decisive move, running away from Yehualaw and Obiri and powering toward the finish. By 20K, she had built a 22-second lead over Yehualaw, and she continued to push right to the line, eventually lengthening the gap to 38 seconds.
Congratulations Ruth Chepngetich on breaking the Women’s Half Marathon World Record in Istanbul.
Your victory is a reminder to the world that indeed Kenya is a distance running powerhouse. Thank you for once again flying our flag high. We are proud of you.
— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) April 4, 2021
Chepngetich grabbed her third Istanbul Half-Marathon title, adding to her wins from 2017 and 2019 and also lowering her own course record. She beat her half-marathon PB by more than a minute, bettering her 1:05:06 from the New Delhi Half-Marathon last November.
Yehualaw finished in second place, crossing the line in 1:04:40. Like Chepngetich, she also raced in New Delhi last year, when she ran to the second-fastest half-marathon result in history, posting a time of 1:04:46. She lowered that on Sunday, but with Chepngetich in front of her, the result is now the third-fastest in history. Obiri crossed the line in third in 1:04:51, giving her the fastest half-marathon debut ever.
The men’s race
The men didn’t post any world records, but they still delivered an exciting race. The current and previous half-marathon world record holders, Kenyans Kibiwott Kandie and Geoffrey Kamworor, led the way, battling to the finish line.
— Alberto Stretti (@albertostretti) April 4, 2021
Kandie owns the world record of 57:32 (which he ran at the Valencia Half-Marathon in December to break Kamworor’s previous world record of 58:01), but he was unable to come close to that on Sunday. He crossed the line in 59:35, and although it wasn’t a PB, it still broke the course record. Kamworor finished just behind his fellow Kenyan, stopping the clock in 59:38. Roncer Kipkorir finished in 59:46 to complete the Kenyan sweep of the podium.