Ezekiel Chebii shattered the course record at the Lille Half Marathon on Saturday (1).
The 21-year-old Kenyan clocked an impressive 59:05, well under the previous course mark of 59:36 set by Ethiopian Tilahun Regassa in 2008. It was also a marked improvement over the distance for Chebii whose previous best was 59:22 from the Berlin Half Marathon in April.
Kenyan Bernard Koech was second in 59:10, a personal best, but was overshadowed by the third place finisher, track standout Eliud Kipchoge who made his debut over the distance. The 27-year-old, who won the World 5000m title in 2003 and took World and Olympic silver over the same distance in 2007 and 2008, respectively, clocked an impressive 59:25. It was the second fastest Half Marathon debut ever, behind only Moses Mosop's 59:20 in Milan in 2010.
Gideon Kipketer and Gilbert Masai clocked personal bests of 59:53 and 59:57 to round out the top-five and reach the finish in under one hour.
Ethiopian Amane Tsegay was expected to race but didn't reach the start, reportedly due to visa and travel difficulties.
In the women's race, Flomena Chepchirchir clocked a 1:08:06 PB to lead the first five finishers under 1:09. Diane Chepkemoi was second in 1:08:08 ahead of debutante Priscah Jepleting's 1:08:35.
2011 Prague Marathon winner Lydia Cheromei (1:08:54) was fourth and Sarah Chepchirchir, who clocked 1:08:59, fifth.