Faith Kipyegon Runs 3:50.37 (#2 All-Time) to Narrowly Miss 1500m World Record in Monaco

By Jonathan Gault
August 10, 2022

The greatest women’s 1500-meter runner of all time came just shy of the 1500-meter world record in Monaco on Wednesday.

Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, who has won two world and two Olympic 1500 titles in her glittering career, was chasing a personal best in Wednesday’s Herculis Diamond League meeting, and she achieved that, shaving .70 off her 3:51.07 pb to run 3:50.37. But despite a valiant effort that had Kipyegon lying on the track in exhaustion after the race, Genzebe Dibaba’s world record of 3:50.07, set on the same Monaco track in 2015, lived to see another day as Kipyegon had to settle for the second-fastest time in history.

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Kipyegon, who won her second world title a month ago in Eugene, now owns six of the 13 fastest ever – three of which have come this season:

1. 3:50.07 Genzebe Dibaba, Monaco 2015
2. 3:50.37 Faith Kipyegon, Monaco 2022
3. 3:50.46 Qu Yunxia, Beijing 1993
4. 3:50.98 Jiang Bo, Shanghai 1997
5. 3:51.07 Faith Kipyegon, Monaco 2021
6. 3:51.34 Lang Yinglai, Shanghai 1997
7. 3:51.92 Wang Junxia, Beijing 1993
8. 3:51.95 Sifan Hassan, Doha 2019
9. 3:52.47 Tatyana Kazankina, Zurich 1980
10. 3:52.59 Faith Kipyegon, Eugene 2022
11. 3:52.96 Faith Kipyegon, Eugene 2022
12. 3:53.11 Faith Kipyegon, Tokyo 2021
13. 3:53.23 Faith Kipyegon, Eugene 2021

Kipyegon was exhausted after this one

Behind Kipyegon, Americans took second and third as Heather MacLean and Elise Cranny became the 12th and 13th American women to break the 4:00 barrier. MacLean, who was originally entered in the 800 before switching at the last minute, ran 3:58.89 (previous pb: 4:01.38) while Cranny was just behind in 3:59.06 (4:02.62 pb).

The race

From the gun, it was clear this race would be Kipyegon against the clock. Pacers Allie Wilson and Adelle Tracey were asked to hit 800 in 2:02 (WR pace is 2:02.70), and they did a good job. Wilson hit 400 in 59.9 with Kipyegon a couple meters back in 60.5, and Wilson stepped off after hitting 800 in 2:01.6 and Kipyegon right on WR pace at 2:02.6. The rest of the field was 30 meters behind by this point.

Tracey tried to press on but had nothing left and Kipyegon passed her at 900 meters. She would be on her own for the final 600, though she still had the Wavelight pacing lights to accompany her. At the bell (2:49.1), Kipyegon was still right with the lights, needing to close in sub-61 to get the record, but she slowed just slightly (her 800 split from 800m to 1200m was 62.1) and though she stuck with the green lights for the entire final 400, she could never get ahead of them, closing in 61.3 to run 3:50.37.

“I have been chasing the time for quite some time but I am happy with the personal best,” Kipyegon told meet organizers after the race. “It seems I did not give all but I tried hard. I knew this was the best place to get the world record but I am so disappointed I lost it in the last meters. I hope for the best next time. We will see when. I was definitely ready for it today. I am heading home now and want to get a good Diamond League final in Zurich.”

Results

1 3 KEN
3:50.37
NRWLPB
2 16 3:52.59 3:51.07
2 15 USA
3:58.89
PB
6 12 4:01.38 4:01.38
3 5 USA
3:59.06
PB
14 6 4:08.07 4:02.62
4 8 ETH
4:00.51
1 27 3:57.30 3:57.30
5 10 USA
4:00.70
8 10 4:00.34 4:00.34
6 4 UGA
4:00.81
15 6 4:00.25 3:59.56
7 11 AUS
4:00.96
12 7 4:00.16 4:00.16
8 7 AUS
4:01.73
7 12 3:59.31 3:58.81
9 12 USA
4:02.87
17 5 3:58.85 3:58.85
10 14 ITA
4:04.96
23 3 4:01.93 4:01.93
11 9 ESP
4:05.60
24 3 4:04.24 4:00.12
12 6 FRA
4:10.01
4:04.78 4:03.35
DNF 13 ETH
3 16 3:58.80 3:58.80
DNF 2 JAM
27 1 4:02.36 4:02.36

Quick Take: Kipyegon played this one just about perfectly; she just wasn’t quite good enough tonight

Pacer Wilson went out a little faster than WR pace for the first 400 tonight but it would be wrong to blame her for Kipyegon falling short of the WR tonight. You can be a little fast on the first lap of a record attempt as long as you’re not insanely fast, and 59.9 is reasonably, particularly considering Kipyegon backed off her a bit and came through in 60.5.

The fact is, WR pace is 2:02.70 and Kipyegon came through 800 in 2:02.6. Kipyegon still ran a personal best and the second-fastest time ever. She just needed to be able to close in 60.9 and instead closed in 61.3.

Kipyegon actually paced herself much better than Dibaba did when she set the record in 2015. Dibaba went out at the same pace as Kipyegon (60.5) then slowed way down to 2:04.7 at 800 before picking it up again and coming home in 59.79.

Dibaba Kipyegon
400 60.5 60.5
800 2:04.7 (64.2) 2:02.6 (62.1)
1200 3:04.6 (59.9) 3:04.7 (62.1)
1500 3:50.07 (45.47) 3:50.37 (45.67)

MB: Faith Kipyegon so close!

Quick Take: This was some terrific running from the Americans

When you’re an American 1500 runner in Monaco, you’re there to run a personal best and two of the four Americans got the job done tonight with a third coming just short (Cory McGee ran 4:00.70, just off her 4:00.34 pb). Only US champ Sinclaire Johnson (9th in 4:02.87, four seconds off her 3:58.85 pb) will walk away from this one disappointed.

But there was plenty to celebrate for the other Americans, Heather MacLean and Elise Cranny, both of whom ran massive personal bests. MacLean, who ran a pb of 4:01.38 at the Silesia Diamond League on Saturday, took a hatchet to that mark and got all the way down to 3:58.89 to move to #8 on the all-time US list, thanks to the fastest last lap in the field. MacLean was only in 11th place at the bell, but blasted a 60.5 final lap to pass nine runners and get the sub 4 clocking.

Cranny, running her first Diamond League of the year, ran an even bigger pb, lowering her 4:02.62 pb set last year all the way down to 3:59.06 to move to #9 on the all-time US list and join MacLean in the sub-4:00 club.

It was a nice rebound as both women had challenging springs. MacLean won the US indoor title but had a bad case of COVID, causing her to miss some training and as a result she was only 5th at USA outdoors in June. Cranny, meanwhile, set the American indoor record at 5,000 meters in February but dealt with RED-S this spring and missed the US 10,000 championships. But she came back to win her second straight US 5,000 title and has now broken the 4:00 barrier at 1500.

More: Full Monaco recap: Wightman, Lyles, & Fraser-Pryce Win Fast Battles of World Champs at 2022 Monaco Diamond League Wightman (2:13.88), Lyles (19.46), and Fraser-Pryce (10.62) all set meet records as the action was great in Monaco once again.

Grant Fisher Breaks The 3000 American Record in Monaco, Runs 7:28.48 Benard Lagat‘s record is history as Fisher judged things perfectly and then closed in 57.7.

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