Mary Keitany Sets New Half Marathon World Record Of 65:50

Kenyan Becomes First Woman Under 66:00 For 13.1 Mile Distance On A Loop Course; Deriba Merga Goes Out Hard And Settles For Men's 8k World Best And Men's Victory

February 18, 2011

RAK Half Photo Gallery

At the RAK Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates on Friday morning (Thursday evening in the US), 29-year-old Mary Keitany of Kenya became the first woman to break the 66-minute barrier in the half marathon on a loop course, as she ran 65:50 to set a new world record, obliterating Lornah Kiplagat's former world record of 66:25 from 2007 by 35 seconds.

Pending the normal certification process, Keitany's time will be regarded as the new world record for the half marathon distance (editor's note: and likely the world best for the 12km, 10 mile, and 20km distances as Keitany beat the previous official bests for those distances and the organizers appear to have clocked her times at these points). That being said, two other women have run slightly faster than Keitany for the 13.1 mile distance. Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe ran 65:40 on the record-ineligible, point-to-point Great North Run course in 2003 and Susan Chepkemei, who would later serve a doping suspension, ran 65:44 on the point-to-point Lisbon course in 2001.

Coming into the race, it was thought by some that Keitany had a good shot at the record, as she came in as the number two woman in history, with a 66:36 personal best that she ran to win the 2009 world title in Birmingham. With the help of a male pacesetter who would accompany her for nearly the entire race, Keitany got started on record pace from the very beginning, as she covered the first 5km in 15:18, which is 4:55 mile pace and the old world record worked out to just under 5:04 pace.

At 10km, Keitany had slowed only slightly, as her time was 30:45 (4:57-ish overall pace), meaning her second 5k was covered in 15:27. Close to halfway, Keitany had a lot of time in the bank, but the question was "Would she be able to keep it together during the second half of the race?"

Yes, she would.

During the next 5k, Keitany slowed a bit more, as she covered the 10k to 15k in 15:55, giving her a 15k split of 46:40, which is basically 5:00 pace for 5k (5:00.41 to be exact). With just over 6k to go, would she be able to hold on? A 15:55 5k is 5:07.38 pace and to get the record, Keitany would need to be able to stay under 5:12.76 pace. Keitany's 10-mile split of 50:05 showed she was still on basically 5-flat pace (5:00.50) and it seemed as if the record might indeed happen.

At 20k (62:36), it was clear Keitany was going to get the record, as she really didn't slow from 15k to 20k at all, covering that 5k in 15:56. Barring a total collapse over the final 1.0975 km, the record was going to belong to Keitany, as she would only have had to run 5:36 pace to not get the record. The question now became "Could she break the 66-minute barrier?"

Yes, indeed. Keitany got her record in style as she re-accelerated and hammered home the final 1.0975 km at 4:44 pace.

Along the way to her new world record at the half marathon, Keitany also set new world bests or records at 8km, 12km, 10 miles, and 20km and just missed the world record for 15km (Editor's Note: Other runners may have run faster at some of these distance but times just weren't recorded. For example, Tirunesh Dibaba may have gone faster through 12km in her 15km world record but there was no clock there to record it. Here, the race organizers have photos of Keitany showing her with the clock showing her split times at 12km, 10 miles, 20km and the finish, showing that they believe these were all world bests.).

RAK Half Photo Gallery

Previous World Record Or World Best/New World Record/Best
8km World's Best: 24:38 for Paula Radcliffe .......................Keitany 24:30

12kmL Word's Best 38:09 for Lineth Chepkurai..................Keitany 37:04
15km: World Record 46:28 for Tirunesh Dibaba..................Keitany 46:40 ... just misses
10 miles: World's Best 51:43 for Teyba Erkesso.................. Keitany 50:05
10km: World Record 62:57 for Lornah Kipligat...................Keitany 62:36
Half: World Record 66:25 for Lornah Kipligat..................... Keitany 65:50
*Update at 11:45 am EST on Feb. 18: The 12km split was found to be 4m short as parked cars messed up the original measurement so that world's best won't count

Men's Race

The men's race started like the women's race - very, very fast. Noted frontrunner and 2009 Boston marathon champ Deriba Merga blitzed the first 5k in 13:37, which equates to 4:23 pace, when the world record of 58:23 equates to 4:27 pace or 13:50.19 for each 5k. At 8km, in the middle of a half marathon, Merga was rewarded with a new world best, as his 21:51 split is the first official sub-22:00 recording for 8km on the roads. Merga kept the hammer down and at 10km (27:30) he was still ahead of world record pace, although it seemed like it was unlikely he'd get the record, as his second 5km of 13:53 was behind the required average pace for the record. By 10 miles (44:52), any thoughts of a world record were officially over.

Merga's 15km split of 41:44 meant he'd continued to slow, as he covered his third 5k in 14:14, but it seemed as if the race was turning into a complete slaughter, with Merga up by 50 seconds at this point. However, shortly thereafter, Merga's hot early pace really started to take a toll and he'd cover the fourth 5k in just 14:31 and his lead would shrink considerably from 50 seconds to 32.

Suddenly, spectators' thoughts went from "How much is Merga going to destroy this world class field by?" to "Is Merga going to hold on and win this race?"

In the end, Merga did get the win by 20 seconds in 59:24 (his seventh time under one hour for his career) over 2009 World Half Marathon silver medallist and 2007 World Cross-Country bronze medallist Bernard Kipyego. 21-year-old Kenyan Leonard Langat was the only other person under one hour, as he finished third in 59:52.

The world's best marathoner in 2010, Patrick Makau, who had two big marathon wins in 2:04:48 and 2:05:08, was in today's race as well. Makau, who also is the third fastest ever at the half marathon distance (58:52), tried to stay with Merga early on, as he was in fifth at 5km in a speedy 13:47. However, Makau, who is in the midst of marathon training for London, would pay a steep price for going out so fast, as he'd cover his next three 5km segments in 14:30, 15:11 and 16:35 before he finished in 12th place in 63:51.

Top results as well as 5k, 10km, 15km, 10 mile and 20km splits appear below. More results available at race website.

Chat: *OMG did Mary Keitany just run sub 1:06 half marathon WR? *Official RAK Half Marathon Thread - Race Starts at 10 pm EST Thursday Night

RAK Half Photo Gallery

2011 RAK Half Marathon
Men's Half Marathon Results

1   D. Merga (ETH)  59:24 (5km Splits 13:37, 13:53, 14:14, 14:31)
2   B. Kipyego (KEN)    +0:20
3   L. Langat (KEN) +0:28
4   J. Kiprotich (KEN)  +0:45
5   T. Masai (KEN)  +1:16
6   G. Feleke (ETH) +2:04
7   M. Terefe (ETH) +2:39
8   D. Marwa (TZA)  +2:39
9   H. Chani (MAR)  +2:59
10  A. Shumye (ETH) +3:34
11  E. Kipkorir (KEN)   +3:37
12  P. Makau (KEN)  +4:27

2011 RAK Half Marathon
Women's Half Marathon Results

1.  51  Mary Keitany    KEN     1:05:50
2.  52  Dire Tune   ETH     1:08:52 3:02
3.  54  Mare Dibaba ETH     1:08:57 3:07
4.  58  Rose Kosgei KEN     1:09:04 3:14
5.  61  Agnes Kiprop    KEN     1:09:10 3:20
6.  53  Hilda Kibet NLD     1:09:35 3:45
7.  60  Sultan Haydar   TUR     1:10:01 4:12
8.  62  Eunice Kales    KEN     1:10:41 4:51
9.  57  Christelle Daunay   FRA     1:11:13 5:23
10. 55  Aniko Kalovics  HUN     1:13:34 7:44
11. 2122    Emebet Belew Adane          1:16:00 10:11
12. 2120    Belainesh Yami Gurmu            1:20:08 14:18

Overall - Male - 5km
1. 2 Deriba Merga ETH 13:37
2. 5 John Kiprotich KEN 13:45 0:09
3. 9 Titus Masai KEN 13:46 0:10
4. 7 Leonard Langat KEN 13:47 0:10
5. 1 Patrick Makau KEN 13:47 0:10

Overall - Female - 5km
1 M. Keitany (KEN) 15:18
2 D. Tune (ETH) +0:06
3 A. Kiprop (KEN) +0:28
4 R. Kosgei (KEN) +0:27
5 S. Haydar (TUR) +0:28

Overall - Male - 10km -  Diff.
1. 2 Deriba Merga ETH 27:30 -
2. 5 John Kiprotich KEN 28:03 0:34
3. 8 Bernard Kipyego KEN 28:04 0:34
4. 9 Titus Masai KEN 28:04 0:34
5. 7 Leonard Langat KEN 28:04 0:34
Overall - Female - 10km Diff.
1.  51  Mary Keitany    KEN     30:45
2.  52  Dire Tune   ETH     31:55   1:10
3.  61  Agnes Kiprop    KEN     32:05   1:20
4.  60  Sultan Haydar   TUR     32:05   1:20
5.  58  Rose Kosgei KEN     32:05   1:20
Overall - Male - 15km
1 D. Merga (ETH) 41:44
2 B. Kipyego (KEN) +0:50
3 L. Langat (KEN) +0:50
4 J. Kiprotich (KEN) +0:51
5 T. Masai (KEN) +0:51
Overall - Female - 15km
1.  51  Mary Keitany    KEN     46:40
2.  61  Agnes Kiprop    KEN     48:51   2:11
3.  52  Dire Tune   ETH     48:51   2:12
4.  58  Rose Kosgei KEN     48:51   2:12
5.  54  Mare Dibaba ETH     48:51   2:12

Overall - Male - 10mile
1 D. Merga (ETH) 44:52
2 J. Kiprotich (KEN) +0:52
3 B. Kipyego (KEN) +0:52
4 L. Langat (KEN) +0:52
5 T. Masai (KEN) +0:52

Overall - Female - 10mile
1   M. Keitany (KEN)    50:05
2   A. Kiprop (KEN) +2:25
3   D. Tune (ETH)   +2:25
4   R. Kosgei (KEN) +2:25
5   M. Dibaba (ETH) +2:25

Overall - Male - 20 km
1.  2   Deriba Merga    ETH     56:15
2.  8   Bernard Kipyego KEN     56:47   0:32
3.  7   Leonard Langat  KEN     56:48   0:33
4.  5   John Kiprotich  KEN     57:05   0:50
5.  9   Titus Masai KEN     57:27   1:12

Overall - Female - 20 km
1.  51  Mary Keitany    KEN     1:02:36
2.  52  Dire Tune   ETH     1:05:40 3:05
3.  61  Agnes Kiprop    KEN     1:05:41 3:05
4.  58  Rose Kosgei KEN     1:05:41 3:06
5.  54  Mare Dibaba ETH     1:05:42 3:06


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