Rhonex Kipruto smashed the world record at the 10k Valencia Ibercaja on Sunday (12), clocking 26:24* to win the World Athletics Gold Label road race.
Sheila Chepkirui, meanwhile, ran 29:46 to win the women’s race. Her time was initially reported as 29:42, which would have been a one-second improvement on the world record, but her official time was later confirmed as 29:46, consolidating her position as the second fastest woman of all time.
The world 10,000m bronze medallist, still aged just 20, took 14 seconds off the yet-to-be-ratified mark set just six weeks ago by Joshua Cheptegei in the same city, albeit on a different course.
Held in the Spanish coastal city that played host to the World Half Marathon Championships in 2018, the standard of performances surpassed all expectations.
The men’s race kicked off at a brisk pace of 2:38 for the opening kilometre with a five-man group led by the main favourites: Kipruto and Benard Kimeli, Ethiopia’s Chala Ketema Regasa and Switzerland’s Julien Wanders perfectly paced by Shadrack Kosgei and Jacob Kiprop.
The 3km point was reached in 7:59 and only Kipruto, Kimeli and Wanders remained close to the pacemakers. By the fourth kilometre the pacemakers had already dropped out of the race and Kipruto was running solo as Kimeli could not live with his pace and was soon caught by Wanders.
Kipruto, the world 10,000m bronze medallist, reached the halfway point in 13:23 with Kimeli and Wanders seven seconds in arrears.
Despite running on his own for the entire second half, Kipruto increased his pace and clocked 2:37 for the sixth kilometre. After a slightly slower seventh kilometre of 2:40, the world U20 10,000m champion ramped up his speed again for the eighth kilometre, which he covered in 2:36. By then, having passed 8km in 20:11, it became clear that, barring disaster, Kipruto was going to improve Cheptegei’s world record.
Closing kilometres of 2:38 and 2:35 secured the world record for the 20-year-old Kenyan who covered the two halves in 13:18 and an impressive 13:06.
Well behind Kipruto, Kimeli and Wanders fought fiercely for the runner-up spot, the Kenyan finally prevailing, 27:12 to 27:13. Wanders’ time is a European record, improving his own mark by 12 seconds.
Only the legendary Ethiopian duo Kenenisa Bekele (26:17.53) and Haile Gebrselassie (26:22.75) have recorded faster times on the track, while Paul Tergat holds the Kenyan 10,000m record at 26:27:85.
“I’m over the moon,” said an ecstatic Kipruto, who is coached by Colm O’Connell. “When I clocked 26:46 in Prague in 2018, I set myself the target of breaking the world 10km record and today my dream came true. I’m very thankful to the organisers for relying on me to set the record and to the city and the people of Valencia for treating me so well and for their support throughout the race.”
Chepkirui leads Kenyan sub-30-minute sweep
Held at the same time as the men’s race, the women’s contest was a thrilling battle between the Kenyan trio of Rosemary Wanjiru, Norah Jeruto and Chepkirui. These three, alongside Israel’s Lonah Salpeter, travelled at a steady 2:58/2:59-per-kilometre pace to reach halfway in 14:51, perfectly on schedule to challenge Joyciline Jepkosgei’s world record of 29:43.
Shortly afterwards Salpeter lost ground and the race became a three-woman Kenyan battle with the added interest of a world record threat. It was inside the final kilometre that Chepkirui proved to be the strongest and during the long home-straight it seemed as though the 29-year-old would join Kipruto as a world record-holder, but ultimately she had to be content with a lifetime best of 29:46.
Wanjiru, who finished fourth in the 10,000m at the recent World Championships, obliterated her career best to 29:51 while Jeruto also bettered 30 minutes for the first time with 29:51. Their performances move them to equal third on the world all-time 10km list.
Emeterio Valiente for World Athletics
1 Rhonex Kipruto (KEN) 26:24
2 Benard Kimeli (KEN) 27:12
3 Julien Wanders (SUI) 27:13
4 Jacob Kirop (KEN) 27:30
5 Shadrack Koech (KEN) 27:32
6 Stephen Kissa (UGA) 27:47
7 Djilali Bedrani (FRA) 27:50
8 Alex Korio (KEN) 27:53
9 Chala Regasa Ketema (ETH) 28:00
10 Sikiyas Misganaw (ETH) 28:01
1 Sheila Chepkirui (KEN) 29:46
2 Rosemary Wanjiru (KEN) 29:51
3 Norah Jeruto (KEN) 29:51
4 Bosena Mulate (ETH) 30:50
5 Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (ISR) 31:09
6 Rediet Daniel (ETH) 31:55
7 Rachael Zena Chebet (UGA) 32:00
8 Karolina Nadolska (POL) 32:08
9 Jenny Nesbitt (GBR) 32:42
10 Mercy Chemutai Koech (KEN) 32:46
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure