Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei broke four world records* at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon when winning the IAAF Gold Label Road Race in 1:04:52 on Saturday (1).
The 23-year-old, competing in just her fifth half marathon to date, also smashed the world records* for 10km, 15km and 20km en route to her victory.
Having covered the opening five kilometres in 14:53, Jepkosgei had defending champion Violah Jepchumba for company in the first half of the race as they passed through 10km in 30:04 and 30:05 respectively, both well inside the previous 10km world record of 30:21 set by Paula Radcliffe in 2003.
Jepchumba couldn’t quite keep up with Jepkosgei’s relentless pace, though, and the gap between the pair grew to three seconds at 15km. Once again their respective splits of 45:37 and 45:40 surpassed the world record of 46:14 set by Florence Kiplagat in 2015.
Jepkosgei continued to pull away from her compatriot over the course of the final few kilometres. After passing through 20km in yet another world record, 1:01:25, she went on to cross the finish line in 1:04:52, taking 14 seconds off the world record set earlier this year by Peres Jepchirchir.
“I didn’t know I would break the world record today,” said Jepkosgei, whose previous best was 1:06:08 from this year’s Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon. “I only wanted to improve my time. This is a surprise for me. The conditions were good for me because I’m used to training at this time of day, in the morning.”
Jepchumba finished second in 1:05:22, 29 seconds quicker than her winning time from last year.
Fancy Chemutai, whose only known performance prior to today was a 32:21 clocking over 10km in Kericho last year, made a stunning breakthrough in third place. After passing through 5km in 15:16 and 10km in 30:56, she went on to finish in 1:06:58.
With Kenyans filling the top five places, Valary Aiyabei and Gladys Chesire finished fourth and fifth in 1:07:50 and 1:07:51 respectively. USA's Jordan Hasay clocked a lifetime best of 1:07:55 in sixth place.
Although no records were broken in the men's race, Tamirat Tola's victory was just as convincing.
The Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist was part of a large leading pack that went through the first five kilometres in 14:22. The Ethiopian still had nine other men for company as he passed the 10km marker in 28:31, but he gradually pulled away from the field soon after.
After covering the five-kilometre segment between 10km and 15km in 13:54 – the fastest of the race – Tola reached the 15km checkpoint in 42:26, more than half a minute ahead of the six-man chase pack.
Tola's advantage continued to grow to the end and he charged towards the finish line to stop the clock at 59:36, his first sub-60-minute performance.
Previously unheralded Josphat Tanui finished strongly to take second place in 1:00:38 on his debut at the distance. Yegon held on for third place in 1:00:41 while last year's runner-up Barselius Kipyego took fourth place in 1:00:47. Olympic marathon bronze medallist Galen Rupp was 11th in 1:01:59.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
*Subject to the usual ratification procedures