Press Release07 Dec 2023

Ratified: road mile world records for Kessler and Welteji


Hobbs Kessler and Diribe Welteji, mile winners at the World Road Running Championships Riga 23 (© Adam Nurkiewicz)

Women’s world road mile record
4:20.98 Diribe Welteji (ETH) Riga, 1 October

Men’s world road mile record
3:56.13 Hobbs Kessler (USA) Riga, 1 October

World records set in the road mile by Diribe Welteji and Hobbs Kessler at the World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga 23 have now been ratified.

Ethiopia’s Welteji headed to the Latvian capital off the back of taking world 1500m silver in Budapest. World record-holder and world champion Faith Kipyegon started as the overwhelming favourite, and looked to be on course for victory for most of the way.

But in the second half of the race, Kipyegon started to look as though she was struggling to maintain the pace. Meanwhile, Welteji and her fellow Ethiopian Freweyni Hailu were poised to strike just a few strides behind.

In the closing stages of the race, Welteji and Hailu made their move and went past Kipyegon with Welteji kicking to victory in 4:20.98. Her performance took almost seven seconds off the previous ratified world record of 4:27.97, set by USA’s Nikki Hiltz in Des Moines on 25 April 2023.

“It was hard, the weather was not good for me,” said Welteji. “When I saw Faith in front, near the line, at that moment I decided to sprint. I could sense that she was tired, and I had it in my mind: 'I can beat her.' I came here to win, to write history and to motivate the new generations of our athletes.”

USA’s Kessler emerged victorious from a wide open and competitive men’s mile in Riga.

Kenya’s Reynold Kipkorir Cheruiyot led during the early stages and reached the first turn before anyone else, but the teenager was soon caught by the rest of the field. South Africa’s Ryan Mphahlele and Kenya’s Kyumbe Munguti then edged into the lead and passed the 1km marker in 2:29, but there were still about 20 runners in close contact.

Mphahlele continued to lead as the clock ticked over to 3:00, but more than a dozen men were still packed close behind, ready to strike. The South African eventually dropped into the pack as Kessler made a move on the outside.

With about 20 seconds of running left and the finish in sight, Kessler proved to have the better sprint finish as he broke the tape in 3:56.13, breaking the previous world record of 4:01.21 set by USA’s Sam Prakel in Des Moines on 25 April earlier this year.

"It's been a a really up and down year and I luckily got in really good shape at the end of the season," said Kessler. "The road mile is a very American event and we're quite experienced in them. I'm very proud of myself.”

World Athletics