February 10, 2017
Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, 23, broke the world record by running a sensational 65:06 at the 2017 RAK Half Marathon Friday morning (Thursday night US time) to defeat Mary Keitany as they waged an epic duel in a race that featured arguably the greatest women’s half marathon field ever assembled.
Jepchirchir, the 2016 World Half Marathon champion, ran a negative split to break Florence Kiplagat’s 65:09 world record from 2015. Each of Jepchirchir’s 5k splits in the 21.1 km/13.1 mile race were faster than the previous as she ran 15:37 for the first 5km segment, then 15:27, 15:24 and 15:10 from 15k to 20k to finally drop Keitany. At that point, Jepchirchir was chasing history.
Jepchirchir dug extremely deep for the world record. Her form was completely falling apart as she neared the finish line (she slowed the final 1.0975km, running 15:43 pace for that stretch of the race), her face sporting an intense grimace as her torso swayed from side to side. Jepchirchir managed to hang on before collapsing immediately after the finish line, where she had to be carried away from the finish area.
— LetsRun.com (@letsrundotcom) February 10, 2017
2015 World Cross Country and 2016 World Half Marathon silver medallist Bedan Karoki of Kenya won the men’s race in a new pb of 59:10 as 1:44 800 man Augustine Choge ran 59:26.
The race was not just historic for the time, but whom Jepchirchir beat. Mary Keitany finished as runner-up today in 65:13 (putting her third on the all-time list), and this was the first time she had lost a half marathon since 2007. Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong was fourth in 65:43, with three-time Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba, arguably the greatest female distance runner of all time, fifth in a pb of 66:50 (previous pb 66:56), a whopping 1:45 behind Jepchirchir.
Jepchirchir took home just about $113,000 for the world record as there was essentially a $100,000 world record bonus. She got 50,000 AED ($13,612.85) for the win and 365,000 AED ($99,373.81) for the WR – a fact she was unaware of until broadcaster Rob Walker broke the news to her on air after the race.
“I was not thinking that I can run world record but it’s God’s plan,” Jepchirchir told Walker. “I’m so happy. I’m not even believing myself that I ran a world record.”
Jepchirchir said that her future plans are up in the air.
“My plans now, maybe I’m going to go home, find my manager, he will tell me what to follow. I can’t choose for myself, he’s the one choosing for me.”
However, she did hint that those plans may involve a marathon debut.
“Now I’ve started preparation for [the] marathon,” Jepchirchir said.
Jepchirchir had battled pneumonia in the fall, and said she was sick again earlier this week. But any doubts about her fitness were quickly put to rest as she, Keitany, a male rabbit and Joyciline Jepkosgei, who entered with a HM best of 69:07 and only started racing competitively in 2015, dropped everyone else just after five miles. For a while, Dibaba, Sumgong and 2015 World marathon silver medallist hung a few seconds behind in a second lead pack, but the top three were too good and stretched their lead after passing 10k in 31:05.
After 15k, Jepchirchir pulled up alongside the rabbit and launched an attack that dropped Jepkosgei and left Keitany struggling to hold on. Though Keitany would hang a few steps behind Jepchirchir through 17k, the pace would eventually prove too hot for her as Jepchirchir split a phenomenal 30:33 from 10k to 20k. She was steadily gaining on world record pace, and at 19k was projected to run 65:05, four seconds under the old mark.
Jepchirchir, who ran directly behind the male pacer during much of the final stage of the race, slowed dramatically over the final kilometer, saying that she was having trouble breathing from 800 meters to the finish line, but she had banked enough time by that point and after collapsing at the finish line seemed full of energy at the awards ceremony half an hour later.
Keitany was close to the old record as well, clocking a remarkable 65:13 to set a 37-second PR at age 35, while Jepkosgei provided the biggest shock of all, taking third in 66:08, putting her #7 all-time.
Women’s top 10 results and splits appear below. The men’s recap and more race analysis appear below that.
|Women’s Top 10 Results|
Unofficial splits for female leader(s) from Helmut Winter:
|distance||split||last km||last 5 km||projection||bib#|
|9 km||27:57||3:03||65:34||51, 52 61|
|10 km||31:05||3:07||15:27||65:35||51 52 61|
|11 km||34:10||3:05||65:32||51 52 61|
|12 km||37:15||3:05||65:29||51 52 61|
|13 km||40:19||3:04||65:26||51 52 61|
|14 km||43:23||3:05||65:24||51 52 61|
|15 km||46:29||3:05||15:24||65:23||51 52 +10m 61|
|16 km||49:30||3:01||65:16||51 52|
|17 km||52:37||3:07||65:18||51 +5m 52|
|18 km||55:37||3:00||65:11||51 + 20m|
In the men’s race, Karoki made it through 15k in 42:05 (59:11 pace) alongside Olympic 10k fourth placer Yigrem Demelash of Ethiopia and Choge, who earned World Indoor bronze over 3,000 meters last year. Karoki continued to push and opened up a 10-meter gap, but he continued to check on his rivals over his shoulders, suggesting that he did not expect his move to be a winning one.
He was correct, and within a few minutes both men had closed the gap, with Choge actually pulling ahead. The pace remained fair but not brutal from 15k to 20k (14:05) for Karoki, and the three men remained close until about two kilometers remained, when Karoki launched another attack. This time it proved decisive and he coasted home in 59:10, though he, like Jepchirchir fell to the ground just after finishing. Demelash, who was only fifth at the Houston Half Marathon last month in 61:59, ran a big personal best of 59:19 for second, while Choge’s 59:26 was a 35-second PR.
Quick Take #1: What a performance and effort by Jepchirchir and what a women’s race!!
A world record and all-time fastest finishes at places 1, 2, 3 and 5. It’s hard to top that.
The conditions were great, as you could imagine, as it was reported to be 61 degrees with 63% humidity and very little wind (the women were running side by side for some of the race).
Jepchirchir’s 10k split from 10k to 20k was simply phenomenal. According to the live results page, she split 30:33 for that segment. That would have put her ninth in last year’s historically fast Olympic 10k final. Among Americans, only Molly Huddle and Shalane Flanagan have ever run faster for 10k on the track.
If this race excited you, then you’ll love the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon as in many ways this race was a sneak preview of that race.The #2 (Keitany – 2:18:47 pb), #4 (Sumgong – 2:20:41 pb), #5 (Dibaba 2:20:35 pb) and #6 finishers (Kiprop 2:21:27) in this race will all be in London. And we’d bet our last dollar that if Jepchirchir makes her debut this spring, it ends up being in London.
QT #2: Congrats to the RAK Organizers
The women’s race was arguably the greatest half-marathon field ever assembled and it lived up to its billing. The RAK organizers put a lot of money into this race and they were rightfully rewarded with a world record.
QT #3. Augustine Choge’s range Is incredible – He’s basically a poor man’s version of Mo Farah
30-year-old Augustine Choge of Kenya lowered his pb from 60:01 to 59:26 to finish third and become the first man in history to break both 1:45 for 800 and 60:00 for the half-marathon. Choge’s range is pretty scary. It’s very similar to Mo Farah’s, except Choge is way better at 800 and Farah has attempted a marathon whereas Choge has not.
According to messageboard poster Douglas Burke, Choge says he’s planning on taking his first serious crack at the 10,000 this year as he wants to run it at Worlds.
|Athlete||Augustine Choge||Mo Farah|
|10000 PB||28:22.8 (altitude)||26:46.57|
Talk about this race on our fan forum / messageboard. MB: Race of the Year (So Far): 2017 RAK Half Marathon Starts at 9:45 PM ET – Official Discussion Thread.
*Peres MF Chepchirchir: 65:06 WR at RAK