The clock is a second off but the smile says it all: Kibowott Kandie shatters the world half marathon record in Valencia (© Organisers)
Kibiwott Kandie smashed the world record* in the half marathon, clocking 57:32 at the Valencia Trinidad Alfonso EDP Half Marathon on Sunday (6).
The 24-year-old Kenyan, who finished second at the World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, in October, knocked 29 seconds from the previous record of 58:01 set by Geoffrey Kamworor in 2019.
In a race of incredible depth, the next three finishers, Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda (57:37) and Kenyans Rhonex Kipruto (57:49) and Alexander Mutiso (57:59), all dipped under the previous record.
Today performance was the fifth world record set in Valencia in 2020 following Kipruto’s 26:24 for the 10km (and 13:18 5km en route) on the roads, Joshua’s Cheptegei’s 26:11.00 for the 10,000m and Letesenbet Gidey’s 14:06.62 for the women’s 5000m.
Running in near-ideal conditions - temperature of 7C with a slight breeze - the two pacemakers set a frantic early pace, covering the opening kilometre in 2:35 with the main favourites running a few metres behind in 2:37. The tempo decreased slightly over the next few kilometres but splits of 8:05 at three kilometres and 13:37 at five, 11 seconds inside world record pace, suggested that a historic run was in the making.
By the 10km point, reached in 27:25, the ‘big three’ - Kiplimo, Kipruto and Kandie - were still accompanied by Alexander Mutiso, Philemon Kiplimo and Kelvin Kiptum. Shortly afterwards the pacesetters stepped aside. From then on Kiplimo and Kipruto took turns at the front to keep the rhythm fast enough to maintain their assault on Kamworor’s record.
About 30 minutes into the race, Kiptum was the first to fall back as the leading quintet forged on, going through 15 kilometres in 41:10, with Kandie in front. Mutiso moved to the lead briefly in the 16th kilometre but the surge cost him as he dropped back about a kilometres later.
The key move came 51 minutes into the race when Kandie upped the pace again. This time, only Kiplimo maintained contact, with Kipruto dropping off. Kandie led through the 20 kilometre marker (54:42) with Kiplimo on his shoulder. By this point, Kipruto was seven seconds back with Mutuso another seven behind.
The closing kilometre was a thriller. Kiplimo took the lead with about 900 metres remaining, but it was short-lived. Kandie bounced back to take control for good some 500 metres from the finish before his remarkable finish, lopping off a jaw-dropping 29 seconds from the previous record - while getting the better of Kiplimo, who beat him to the line at the World Half Marathon Championships. The performance also sliced 66 from his previous career best, set in Prague in September.
“I can’t believe it, I have beaten Kamworor’s world record by half a minute,” said Kandie, who took home €135,00 in prize money and bonuses. “Today is a great day for me and also for Kenya.”
Kiplimo clocked 57:37, also well under the previous record. For Kipruto, his 57:49 run the fastest ever debut while Mutiso, who also cracked the 58-minute barrier with his 57:59 run, was more than a full minute better than his previous best.
Underscoring the unprecedented quality of today’s performances, Kenya’s Philemon Kiplimo had to settle for fifth in 58:11, a performance only bettered by Kamworor until today.
Debutant Dibaba wins in style
The women’s event didn’t quite reach the men’s level but nonetheless witnessed some remarkable performances, topped by Ethiopia’s world 1500m record-holder Genzebe Dibaba who made her first attempt over the distance.
The race was largely a three-woman battle between Dibaba, her compatriot Senberi Teferi and Kenya’s Sheila Chepkirui. Paced by Vincent Chumo, the triumvirate passed the opening five kilometres in 15:24 and 10 kilometres in 30:59, on target for a 1:05 finishing time.
Dibaba maintained that relentless pace, reaching 15 kilometres in 46:33, with Chepkirui and Teferi, last year’s winner, trailing by five seconds. Dibaba continued to extend her lead in the waning stages en route to her 1:05:16 performance, the fastest women’s debut ever.
Chepkirui was second in 1:05:39, 23 seconds behind. Teferi was third clocking 1:05:51.
1 Kibiwott Kandie (KEN) 57:32
2 Jacob Kiplimo (UGA) 57:37
3 Rhonex Kipruto (KEN) 57:49
4 Alexander Mutiso (KEN) 57:59
5 Philemon Kiplimo (KEN) 58:11
6 Kelvin Kiptum (KEN) 58:42
7 Bravin Kipkogei Kiptoo (KEN) 59:37
8 Julien Wanders (SUI) 59:55
1 Genzebe Dibaba (ETH) 1:05:18
2 Sheila Chepkirui (KEN 1:05:39
3 Senbere Teferi (ETH) 1:05:51
4 Dorcas Tuitoek (KEN) 1:07:18
5 Emily Sisson (USA) 1:07:26
6 Brenda Jepleting (KEN) 1:08:47
7 Maria Jose Perez (ESP) 1:12:57
8 Laura Mendez (ESP) 1:13:30
Emeterio Valiente for World Athletics
*pending the usual ratification procedures