Report27 Mar 2022

Obiri and Kwemoi claim half marathon crowns in Istanbul


Hellen Obiri wins the N Kolay Istanbul Half Marathon (© Spor Istanbul)

Hellen Obiri ran the 10th fastest ever women's half marathon and Rodgers Kwemoi broke the course record to win the N Kolay Istanbul Half Marathon, a World Athletics Elite Label road race, on Sunday (27).

Both races got off to a blistering start and while the early world record pace could not be maintained on a sunny and breezy morning, Kenya's Obiri and Kwemoi held on to triumph by a big margin, beating two stong fields.

Two-time world 5000m champion Obiri ran 1:04:48 to win the women's race by more than a minute ahead of Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu and Bekelech Gudeta, while Kwemoi improved the men's course record to 59:15 to beat his training partner Daniel Mateiko (1:00:05) and Emmanuel Bor, who had started the race as a pacemaker.

The N Kolay Istanbul Half Marathon was one of the few international races that went ahead last year during the pandemic and it ended with a world record by Ruth Chepngetich, the world marathon champion running 1:04:02. Since then, that women's world record has been improved to 1:02:52 by Letesenbet Gidey in Valencia and it was that mark the leaders were on target for in the early stages.

Running with a male pacemaker, Obiri was joined by Gemechu as they passed 5km in 14:45, putting them on a projected pace of just outside 62 minutes, with Ethiopia’s Bekelech Gudeta and Kenya’s Vicoty Chepngeno running together 10 seconds behind them. Turkey’s Yasemin Can was another 10 seconds back.

Speeding up further still, it was no surprise to see Obiri open a gap on Gemechu, but that pace could not be sustained in the windy conditions and the world cross-country champion had slowed by the 10km point, although that was still passed in 30:01. By that stage she was half a minute ahead of Gemechu, who had been caught by Chepngeno and Gudeta.

Obiri continued to forge ahead, passing 15km in 45:27 and 20km in 1:01:16 to eventually win in 1:04:48, improving both her time and position from the event 12 months earlier, when she was third behind Chepngetich in 1:04:51 – the fastest debut half marathon in history. Obiri currently sits fifth on the world all-time list with the 1:04:22 she ran to finish second at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon last month.

Gemechu, who won last year’s Copenhagen Half Marathon in a PB of 1:05:08, battled the challenge posed by Chepngeno and Gudeta and solo ran her way to second place in 1:05:52. Gudeta was third in 1:06:35, Chepngeno fourth in 1:06:58 and Can fifth in 1:07:57. The top 11 finished inside 70 minutes, while Moira Stewartova was just outside that and broke the Czech Republic record with 1:10:14 to finish 12th.

"It was so windy during the second half. I would have been able to run quite a bit faster without the wind, but it was nonetheless a good race," said Obiri, who now switches her attention to shorter road races.

"I want to run the 5000m at the World Championships since I am the defending champion. My first marathon will then more likely follow in 2023."

The men’s race leaders were also on pace to break Jacob Kiplimo’s world record of 57:31 set in Lisbon last year in the opening kilometres and Kwemoi, Mateiko and their compatriot Bor were just off that tempo through 5km in 13:40.

That trio remained together as 10km was passed in 27:35 but then Kwemoi began to move away. The tempo was easing but he was still well in control, with a 20-second lead at 15km, which he passed in 41:34.

That advantage had grown to 44 seconds by 20km (56:07) and he ran unchallenged to the finish line in 59:15 to improve the course record of 59:35 set by the then world record-holder Kibiwott Kandie last year.

Bor was 15 seconds behind runner-up Mateiko, running 1:00:20 for third place, while Kenya’s Edmond Kipngetich and Brian Kwemoi finished fourth and fifth with respective times of 1:00:30 and 1:00:50.

The top 10 were all under 62 minutes, with Ramazan Ozdemir being Turkey’s top finisher in 14th (1:04:02).

"It was a good race, but the wind was very strong and I also felt my hamstring at around 10km, so I could not go that fast any more," said Rodgers Kwemoi, who is a training partner of Eliud Kipchoge in Kaptagat.

"My next goal in the half marathon is a time of 58:00. But I will first focus on qualifying for the World Championships, where I want to run the 10,000m. I will run a marathon in future, but only after the Olympics."

The event featured a record number of more than 7000 starters.

Jess Whittington for World Athletics

Leading results


1 Hellen Obiri (KEN) 1:04:48
2 Tsehay Gemechu (ETH) 1:05:52
3 Bekelech Gudeta (ETH) 1:06:35
4 Vicoty Chepngeno (KEN) 1:06:58
5 Yasemin Can (TUR) 1:07:57


1 Rodgers Kwemoi (KEN) 59:15
2 Daniel Mateiko (KEN) 1:00:05
3 Emmanuel Bor (KEN) 1:00:20
4 Edmond Kipngetich (KEN) 1:00:30
5 Brian Kwemoi (KEN) 1:00:50

Full results


Bekele and Dalasa win in Rome

Ethiopia's Fikre Bekele and Sechale Dalasa claimed a double win at the 27th edition of the Acea Run Rome the Marathon, a World Athletics Label road race, on Sunday (27).

(© Giancarlo Colombo)

Bekele crossed the finish line in 2:06:48, improving the previous course record of 2:07:17 set by Kenya’s Benjamin Kiptoo in 2009.

Bekele’s compatriot Tadesse Temechachu finished runner up in 2:07:04, improving his previous lifetime best of 2:10:17 set in Kosice in 2016. Othmane El Goumri from Morocco, who finished ninth at the Olympic Games in Sapporo last year and was the fastest runner among the entrants with his PB of 2:06:18 set in Siena last year, completed the podium, taking third place in 2:07:16, also inside the previous course record.

The top nine finishers dipped under the 2:10 barrier in a high-quality race.

The leading group – including Chesari Kirui Jacob, Ernest Ngeno, Bekele, Temechachu, El Goumri, Abraham Girma, Alemayehu Mekonen, Joshua Kogo and Samuel Naibei Kiplimo – set off at a fast pace, reaching 15km in 44:29. They went through the half way mark in 1:02:49 and 30km in 1:30:05.

El Goumri launched the first attack at 31km. The leading pack was whittled down to just five runners: Bekele, Temechachu, El Goumri, Girma and Jacob. 

Only El Goumri, Bekele and Temechachu remained in the front group and reached 35km in 1:45:10. Bekele and Temechachu broke away from El Goumri at 39km. Bekele launched his decisive kick with 2km to go and continued pushing the pace until the end to cross the finish line at the Fori Imperiali in 2:06:48, recording the second fastest time of his career. He ran faster in 2019 when he finished fourth in Seoul in 2:06:27. Later that year he won the Frankfurt Marathon in 2:07:08.

"I realised at 35km that I could win the race," he said. "I felt in good shape and I launched my attack at 40km." 

In the women's race, Dalasa, Getnet Tsegaw from Ethiopia and Kenya's Gladys Kiptoo formed the leading group in the early stages. Dalasa picked up the pace at 15km, running at 2:22 marathon pace.

(© Giancarlo Colombo)

The Ethiopian runner went through the half way mark in 1:11:11, with a lead of 30 seconds over Kiptoo. Dalasa remained alone at the front, reaching 32km in 1:48:50. She slowed down in the final stages of the race, but held on to cross the finish line in 2:26:09 with a huge margin of 2:36 over Kiptoo, who clocked 2:28:45 on her debut over the marathon distance.

Nedi Tadelech finished third in 2:31:01.

Dalasa improved her previous PB of 2:26:27 set in Shanghai in 2012.

Diego Sampaolo for World Athletics

Leading results


1 Sechale Dalasa (ETH) 2:26:09
2 Gladys Kiptoo (KEN) 2:28:45
Nedi Tadelech (ETH) 2:31:01
4 Yeshimebet Tadesse Bifa (ETH) 2:32:16
5 Rahma Tahiri (ETH) 2:32:37


1 Fikre Bekele (ETH) 2:06:48
2 Tadesse Temechachu (ETH) 2:07:04
3 Othmane El Goumri (MAR) 2:07:16
4 Abraham Girma Bekele (Ethiopia) 2:08:31
5 Chesari Kirui Jacob (KEN) 2:08:40

Full results