Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei kept her stellar 2017 momentum alive at the Valencia Trinidad Alfonso Half Marathon, taking one second off her own world record* to win the IAAF Gold Label road race in 1:04:51 on Sunday (22).
After Saturday’s technical meeting, it became clear that a serious attack on her current world record was on the cards. A cautious Jepkosgei had commented there that she had been training well since running a world 10km record of 29:43 in Prague and was confident of running fast.
Kenya’s Ezekiel Kemboi was enlisted to pace Jepkosgei at a steady 3:05 per kilometre pace but the early splits proved to be even quicker than scheduled as the opening five kilometres were covered in a frantic 14:52, a time fast enough to finish inside 1:03. The brisk rhythm continued as the 23-year-old was timed at 30:09 at 10 kilometres, still well ahead of her own world record pace.
However, that kind of pace seemed to be self-defeating for a while as Jepkosgei’s rhythm clearly slowed down in the third five-kilometre section. Always running at Kemboi’s shoulder, the multiple world record-holder reached 15 kilometres in 45:59 which put her target in serious jeopardy; when she set the previous world record of 1:04:52 in Prague, she had clocked 45:37 at 15 kilometres.
But, to the delight of the crowd, Jepkosgei dug deep in the closing stages and by the 20-kilometre checkpoint, reached in 1:01:30, she was only five seconds in arrears of her world record goal. With a thrilling run down the final straight, Jepkosgei beat the clock and reached the finish line in 1:04:51 to set her sixth world record this year.
Fancy Chemutai and Lucy Cheruiyot joined Jepkosgei on the podium to get a clean sweep of medals for Kenya. The former, still 3 years of age, ran a massive career best of 1:05:38 to improve over one minute her previous best of 1:06:58. As for Cheruiyot, she finished seven seconds outside her PB in 1:07:30.
Today’s performance was the third women’s world half marathon record set on Spanish soil in recent years after Florence’s Kiplagat previous records of 1:05:12 and 1:05:09 in Barcelona in 2014 and 2015 respectively.