Joshua Cheptegei (26:11.00) and Letesenbet Gidey (14:06.62) Break Men’s 10,000 and Women’s 5,000 World Records In Valencia

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

(07-Oct) — Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei and Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey broke two of athletics’ toughest world records tonight in Valencia, clocking 26:11.00 for 10,000m and 14:06.62 for 5000m, respectively, at the Estadi del Turia. The special event, called NN World Record Day, was organized by the Dutch-based NN Running Team, Global Sports Communications, and Valencia Ciudad del Running. *Results

(For an analysis of what the world records mean, go here: 8 Takeaways After Cheptegei and Gidey Smash World Records in Valencia)

(To watch the races click here)

Women’s Race

Photo credit: NN Running Team

Gidey was first to write her name in the record books.  Following the pacemaking of Esther Guerrero of Spain and Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya –Chepkoech herself the world record holder in the 3000m steeplechase– the three women started off conservatively as Gidey had requested.  Although she needed to average 68.1 seconds per lap to beat Tirunesh Dibaba’s 2008 world record of 14:11.15, Gidey preferred to start in the 69-second range. Guerrero, who ran a Spanish record for 2000m this season, ran 68.8 seconds for the first circuit, guided by the blue “wave lights” along the track which helped her with the pace.  All three women looked comfortable.

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Guerrero got the trio through 1000m in 2:51.10, then half a lap later dropped out.  Chepkoech, with her distinctive upright posture and long stride, kept Gidey right on pace after that.  The lap into 1800m went by in 68.7 seconds, and Chepkoech hit 2000m in 5:42.73.  The duo were on a 14:17 pace at that moment, and Gidey would have to make up the time later in the race.

Coming down the homestretch to the 3000m mark, Chepkoech drifted to the right to leave Gidey to finish the job, alone, but not after hitting 3000m in 8:31.85.  Gidey was now on a 14:13 pace, closing in on Dibaba’s mark.

From there Gidey never broke her form.  She got her pace down into the 67’s and closed with a 67.1-second final lap to get the record.  She crossed herself just before finishing, getting well-deserved cheers from the small crowd limited by hygiene restrictions.

“I’m happy, I’m happy,” she said in her in-stadium interview.  “This is a long time of dream.  This is very big for me.”

Winnie Nanyondo of Uganda was the race’s only other finisher.  She ran 15:57.16.

Men’s Race

Photo credit: NN Running Team

Cheptegei was targeting Kenenisa Bekele’s vaunted world record of 26:17.53 set in Brussels in 2005.  He preferred to get right on the pace from the gun, and with the help of pacemakers Roy Hoornweg of the Netherlands, Matthew Ramsden of Australia, and Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli of Kenya that’s what happened.  Hoornweg ran the first lap in 63.1 seconds and Cheptegei was off to a perfect start.

Running single file, Hoornweg, Ramsden and Kimeli ran smoothly in concert to split the first kilometer in 2:37.9, on pace for a 26:19 finish.  Hoornweg dropped out at 1600m (4:12.1), and the much taller Ramsden took over at the front.  Ramsden, who ran a 4:55.44 personal best for 2000m in August, got the trio to 3000m in 7:52.79 before retiring 200 meters later.

“They are absolutely bang-on world record pace, “said Rob Walker who was doing the television commentary for the event.

Kimeli –who ran a 12:51.78 personal best for 5000m in the same Monaco race where Cheptegei broke the world record for that distance in August– was up to the task for keeping Cheptegei on pace.  He split 5000m in 13:07.8, then half a lap later Cheptegei took over the lead and forged ahead on his own.

The Estadi del Turia is a municipal stadium and the field of play is set well below street level.  Ordinary Valencians had begun to gather along the street-level fence and were cheering Cheptegei from the sidewalk.  The Ugandan, soaked with sweat, pushed ahead with his 63-second laps hitting 8000m in 20:59.5 and 9000m in 23:36.8, well under world record pace.  He turned his final two laps in 63.9 and 60.1 seconds, respectively, to put the record away.

“I think it means something great to me,” Cheptegei said.  He continued: “We want people to know track is still exciting.”

Other athletes behind the winner also ran well.  Kimeli went all the way to the finish, clocking 27:12.98, his second fast 10,000m of the year (he also ran 26:58.97 in Leiden on 19 September which was a world leader until tonight).  American Shadrack Kipchirchir finished third in 27:28.97, his third career performance under 27:30.  Uganda’s Stephen Kissa finished fourth in 27:34.48, a personal best.

Despite today’s hard effort, Cheptegei’s season isn’t over. He will lead the Ugandan team at the World Athletics Half-Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, on October 17.  It will be his first-ever half-marathon, yet he is favored my many to win.  If he does, he would hold the world cross country, 10,000m and half-marathon titles simultaneously.

(For an analysis of what the world records mean, go here: 8 Takeaways After Cheptegei and Gidey Smash World Records in Valencia)

You can watch a full replay of the races for free in the video embedded above or by clicking here*Results Quick Take Analysis Of The Races Is Coming Soon.

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