Report04 Apr 2021

Chepngetich smashes world half marathon record in Istanbul


Ruth Chepngetich wins the Istanbul Half Marathon (© Organisers)

World marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich took 29 seconds off the world record* to win the N Kolay Istanbul Half Marathon, a World Athletics Elite Label road race, clocking a stunning 1:04:02 in the Turkish city on Sunday (4).

The 26-year-old Kenyan, a winner of this race in 2017 and 2019, broke away from Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw in the final stages to win by 38 seconds. Two-time world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri was third in 1:04:51 – the fastest debut half marathon in history. It’s the first time three women have finished inside 65 minutes in one half marathon.

Chepngetich, Yehualaw and Obiri were part of an eight-woman pack in the early stages, passing through five kilometres in 15:07. That group, which also included marathon world record-holder Brigid Kosgei and fellow Kenyan Joan Chelimo Melly, had been whittled down to five by the 10km marker, which was reached in 30:21.

Kosgei then started to fade, as did Melly, leaving Chepngetich, Yehualaw and Obiri out in front, passing through 15km in 45:29. Yehualaw attempted a brief stint at the front, but with 55 minutes on the clock, Chepngetich started her long drive for home.

She covered the fourth 5km segment in 15:13, giving her a 22-second lead over Yehualaw at 20km, and maintained her pace to the end, winning in 1:04:02. Yehualaw, the world half marathon bronze medallist, finished second in 1:04:40, taking six seconds off her PB, while Obiri was third in 1:04:51.

"I am really happy with this amazing result," said Chepngetich. "The world record is something I have been dreaming about for some time and I am so happy to do it on the streets of Istanbul."

It was Chepngetich's third victory in Istanbul and her third improvement on the course record. Her 2017 triumph in 1:06:19 was one of her first big breakthrough runs, then she returned two years later to win in 1:05:30.

World record-holder Kibiwott Kandie won the men’s race in a course record of 59:35. The world half marathon silver medallist reeled in early leader Benard Ngeno with about 12 minutes remaining before going on to open up a gap of his own.

Three-time world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor made up a bit of ground with about half a kilometre to go, but Kandie dug in and maintained his lead to the end to win by three seconds. Roncer Kipkorir was third in 59:46.

*Subject to the usual ratification procedure

Leading results

1 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 1:04:02
2 Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) 1:04:40
3 Hellen Obiri (KEN) 1:04:51
4 Joan Chelimo Melly (KEN) 1:05:09
5 Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 1:06:01
6 Hiwot Gebrekidan (ETH) 1:06:47
7 Bekelech Gudeta (ETH) 1:06:54
8 Alia Saeed Mohammed (UAE) 1:07:31
9 Melat Kejeta (GER) 1:07:33
10 Yasemin Can (TUR) 1:08:32

1 Kibiwott Kandie (KEN) 59:35
2 Geoffrey Kamworor (KEN) 59:38
3 Roncer Kipkorir (KEN) 59:46
4 Amdework Walelegn (ETH) 59:48
5 Leonard Barsoton (KEN) 59:59
6 Stephen Kissa (UGA) 1:00:02
7 Benard Ngeno (KEN) 1:00:28
8 Vestus Chemjor (KEN) 1:02:07
9 Getaye Fisseha Gelaw (ETH) 1:03:32
10 Aras Kaya (TUR) 1:03:36


Potter smashes 15 minutes in Barrowford

British Olympian Beth Potter produced the biggest performance of her life at the Podium 5K in Barrowford on Saturday (3), smashing through the 15-minute barrier with the second-fastest 5km performance in history.

The 29-year-old – who has represented Britain over 10,000m at the Olympics, World Championships and European Championships – stopped the clock at 14:41. Her time is faster than the ratified world record of 14:43, set by Beatrice Chepkoech earlier this year, but it's understood that Potter's mark is unlikely to be ratified.

Nevertheless, her mark is still a valid performance and counts as a lifetime best, making her the fastest European woman in history for the distance. Only Joyciline Jepkosgei, who ran 14:32 back in 2017 before the 5km became an official world record discipline, has ever gone faster for the distance.

Potter first competed internationally back in 2007, representing Britain at the World U18 Championships, and has been a regular on national teams across a range of surfaces. Four years ago, she quit her job as a physics teacher and moved to Leeds to focus on triathlon with a view to competing in that sport at the Tokyo Olympics.

She has since established herself as one of the top triathlon contenders in the world, while also maintaining a high level of racing in athletics.

"I've always loved running, so it was really good to get a running race in during the early season," she told BBC Radio after the race. "But this was beyond my expectations."