Geoffrey Kamworor took 17 seconds off the world record at the Copenhagen Half Marathon on Sunday (15), winning the IAAF Gold Label road race in 58:01*.
The 26-year-old Kenyan returned to the Danish capital, the scene of his first of three world half-marathon titles, in a bid to improve on the world record of 58:18 set in Valencia last year by Abraham Kiptum.
Outside of his appearances at the World Half Marathon Championships, it was Kamworor’s first 13.1-mile race since November 2014. His goal of breaking the world record was such an important target that he passed up the opportunity to compete at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.
Kamworor was part of a large group through the first five kilometres, covered in 13:53, just outside world record pace, but he upped the tempo and reached 10 kilometres in 27:34, four seconds inside his target time.
Shortly after, he was out in front alone but faced the prospect of covering the final 11 kilometres without company. It didn’t seem to faze him, though, nor did the brief heavy rain fall that occurred with 37 minutes on the clock.
He covered the next five-kilometre segment in a swift 13:31, reaching 15 kilometres in 41:05, the fastest time ever recorded for the distance and 11 seconds inside sub-58-minute pace.
His pace dropped slightly for the final quarter but he looked strong and was still operating well inside world record pace, reaching 20 kilometres in a world best of 55:00.
The clock ticked over to 58 minutes just before Kamworor reached the finish line and moments later his winning mark was confirmed at 58:01.
Five other men finished inside 60 minutes with Bernard Kipkorir taking second place in 59:16 from Ethiopia’s Berehanu Wendemu Tsegu (59:22) and Edwin Kiprop Kiptoo (59:27).
“It is very emotional for me to set this record,” said Kamworor. “And doing it in Copenhagen, where I won my first world title, adds something to it.”
Although no records were broken in the women’s race, it was a closer contest.
After the opening 5km was covered in 15:48 and the first 10km in 31:15, three women – Birhane Dibaba, Evaline Chirchir and Dorcas Tuitoek – were still together at 15km, reached in 46:55.
But Dibaba, the 2018 Tokyo Marathon champion, made a key move soon after and broke free from Chirchir and Tuitoek. She crossed the line in 1:05:57, taking almost two minutes off her previous PB, and won by 25 seconds. It was the second-fastest winning time in Copenhagen, following Sifan Hassan’s course record of 1:05:15 last year.
Chirchir held on for second place in 1:06:22 with Tuitoek finishing third in 1:06:36.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure