Joan Chelimo Melly wins the Prague half marathon (© Organisers)
Joan Melly won the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon today (7), clocking 1:05:04 in the Czech capital to highlight the 20th running of this IAAF Gold Label road race.
On a tear from the outset, Melly passed the opening five kilometres in 14:51, reached 10k in 30:14 and 15 in 45:54, an ambitious pace that came back to haunt the 27-year-old Kenyan in the waning stages. Her performance nonetheless elevated her to the No. 4 position all-time with the fifth fastest run.
“The first five kilometres were exceptionally fast with us running it in under 15 minutes, but I didn’t look at my watch at all, I just followed the pacemakers," said Melly, who set her previous lifetime best of 1:05:37 at the RAK Half in Ras Al Khaimah in February, where she finished fourth.
"I felt my strength wane a bit towards the end, but it was still enough to break a new personal best and secure a win. I’m incredibly happy I managed to do it in Prague and would like to thank everyone who helped me achieve this result."
Her compatriot Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui was second in 1:06:09 followed by Worknesh Degefa from Ethiopia, the runner-up last year and winner in 2015, who clocked 1:08:10.
Further back, Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová finished eighth in 1:11:01 to clip one second from the Czech national record set by Alena Peterkova nearly 24 years ago. “If you’d asked me before the race, I’d never have believed I was capable of such a result, it’s absolutely amazing,” said Vrabcová-Nývltová , who was assisted throughout by pacesetter Emmanuel Biwott. Vrabcová-Nývltová's previous lifetime best of 1:11:06 also came on the streets of Prague in the 2016 edition.
In the men's race, Benard Kimeli broke from a three-man pack in the final kilometre to claim an emphatic victory in 59:47.
"I won the 10-kilometre Birell Prague Grand Prix last year, and now can add the half marathon to that," said Kimeli, who dipped under the one-hour barrier in just his second race over the distance. He finished eighth in Ras Al Khaimah in February, clocking 1:00:16. He clocked 27:10 in that Prague 10km last year, the fastest performance in the world in 2017.
"Prague really suits me and I race well here. The conditions went in our favour today and I’m really pleased that I managed to win."
Geoffrey Yegon was second in 59:56 with Peter Kwemoi third in 59:58 to round out the Kenyan podium sweep. Spots four through nine also were claimed by Kenyan runners.
You can watch the race highlights here.
Bob Ramsak and organisers for the IAAF