With many fall marathons canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, a strong international field of elite athletes flocked to Valencia, Spain, for a last chance at a fast half or full marathon in 2020.
The results in the men’s half marathon were remarkable, with four men breaking the world record.
Kibiwott Kandie of Kenya was the winner in 57:32, shattering the previous record—58:01, set by Geoffrey Kamworor in 2019—by 29 seconds.
The race went out at a breakneck pace, with the leaders hitting 13:37 for 5K and 27:25 for 10K.
Kandie broke the race open with a strong move at 18 kilometers, shaking up a pack of five men. Only Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda could stay with him, and he temporarily moved to the lead with two kilometers remaining. But in the race’s final stretch, Kandie unleashed a powerful kick, and Kiplimo could not respond.
Kiplimo was the runner-up, 5 seconds back, in 57:37. Rhonex Kipruto of Kenya was third in 57:49, and Alexander Mutiso of Kenya was fourth in 57:59.
Kandie, who averaged 4:23 pace for the 13.1 miles, earns a first-place prize of about $42,000 and takes home an extra 100,0000-euro bonus (about $121,000) for breaking the 58-minute barrier.
Women’s Half Marathon
On the women’s side, Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, long known as a track star who holds the world record for 1500 meters, won her first half marathon in 65:18. According to World Athletics, Dibaba set a record for the fastest debut half marathon.
Sheila Chepkirui of Kenya was second in 65:39, and Senbere Teferi of Ethiopia was third in 65:51.
American Emily Sisson, who was trying to break Molly Huddle’s American record for the distance, missed by 1 second. Sisson ran a four-second PR and finished in 67:26. Huddle’s record of 67:25 from the Houston Half Marathon in 2018 still stands.
“It was definitely bittersweet,” Sisson wrote in a text message to Runner’s World. “I loved getting the opportunity to race again and do my job. That part felt amazing. Falling short of my goal was a bit disappointing, but [I’m] trying to keep things in perspective. I was on my own from the beginning and struggled a bit more with the wind than I expected—but that’s no excuse as so many ran incredibly fast today. Overall very pleased to end this year with a solid performance.”
Peres Jepchirchir set a course record and moved to fifth on the all-time list of marathoners with her dominant win in 2:17:16. It was a personal best by more than 6 minutes. Earlier this year, Jepchirchir had twice set the world record for the women’s only half marathon. She ran 65:17 to win the world half marathon title in October.
Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya, the 2019 New York City Marathon champion, was second in 2:18:14. Helalia Johannes, 40, of Namibia was third in 2:19:52.
American Jordan Hasay, who has struggled on and off with injuries for the past few years, finished in 2:33:51.
Evans Chebet of Kenya outsprinted his countryman Lawrence Cherono, the reigning Boston Marathon and Chicago Marathon champion. Chebet finished in 2:03:00, a course record. The time puts him sixth on the all-time list for the marathon.
Cherono, who was second in 2:03:04, is now seventh on that list. Birhanu Legese of Ethiopia finished third in 2:03:16.
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