Robert Keter wins the Urban Trail Lille 5km (Organisers) © Copyright

Weekend road round-up: Keter breaks 5km world record in Lille, Zeray triumphs in Hefei, records tumble in Nanchang

Kenya’s Robert Keter upstaged a quality field to win the Urban Trail Lille 5km on Saturday (9), taking seven seconds off the world record* with his winning time of 13:22.

While organisers had hoped that Lille’s flat course would lend itself to a world record, many expected the likes of world U20 5000m silver medallist Stanley Waithaka, world U20 cross-country champion Milkesa Mengesha and world indoor 3000m finalist Davis Kiplangat to challenge the mark of 13:29.

No one, however, expected the unheralded Keter to sprint away from the field in the closing stages to triumph in a world record time.

Within the first five minutes a lead pack of 10 men, two of whom were pacemakers, had broken away. The group began to stretch out as they approached the half-way point after running the perimeter of Parc Jean-Baptiste Lebas.

Keter made his way to the front before the second pacemaker dropped out, but Waithaka, Kiplangat and 2014 Youth Olympic champion Gilbert Kwemoi were all close behind. Those four men began to pull away from the other athletes in the lead pack with less than a mile left to run.

There was a relatively tight turn at 4km as they looped back on to the Boulevard de la Liberte, but Keter got there first and started to up the pace for the final kilometre. He continued to pull away from his three compatriots and they were unable to match Keter’s finishing pace.

Keter turned into the Place de la Republique with a clear lead and crossed the finish line in 13:22. Kwemoi, Waithaka and Kiplangat followed a few seconds later, finishing in that order, all with an official time of 13:28 – one second inside the existing world record.

“I’m very, very happy,” said Keter. “The race was great, it was my first 5km road race.”

Mercy Jerop, just 17 years of age, made it a Kenyan double, winning the women’s race in 16:21. France’s Fanny Pruvost, 23 years Jerop’s senior, was a distant second in 16:47.

The 5km road distance was introduced as an official world record event in November 2017, with the inaugural record to be recognised after 1 January 2018 if the performances were equal to or better than 13:10 for men and 14:45 for women.

If no such performances were achieved in 2018, the best performances of 2018 (13:30 by Bernard Kibet and 14:48 by Caroline Kipkurui) would be recognised on 1 January 2019. Seven weeks into 2019, Julien Wanders and Sifan Hassan bettered those marks in Monaco by clocking 13:29 and 14:44, times that have since been ratified as world records. Two months later, Edward Cheserek equalled Wanders’ mark at the Carlsbad 5000.

Many athletes, however, have gone quicker than 13:22 before the 5km became an official world record event. The fastest time ever recorded for the distance remains Sammy Kipketer’s 13:00 clocking in Carlsbad in 2000.

*subject to the usual ratification procedure

Debutante Zeray takes surprise victory in Hefei

Debutante Ftaw Zeray of Ethiopia took a surprise win in the women’s race at the Hefei International Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, on Sunday (10).

The 22-year-old Zeray, who set a half marathon career best of 1:10:31 in Marugame, Japan last February, broke clear after 35km and surprised a field that included eight sub-2:30 runners to cross the line in 2:29:15.

It was her second victory in China after her win at the Anhui Dangshan Half Marathon in 2016.

Running under sunny skies with temperature ranging from 15 to 20 degrees, Zeray was in the lead group of six that covered the first 10 kilometres in 34:59. The leaders were trimmed to five after 15km and later cut to just three runners after 30km.

Zeray and her compatriot Gebeyanesh Ayele along with Kenya’s Agnes Kiprop, a 39-year-old veteran who boasted the fastest personal best in the field with a 2:23:54 clocking from 2011, stayed together for another two kilometres when the seasoned Kenyan could no longer keep with the pace of the younger legs.

Zeray and the 24-year-old Ayele, a 2:26:54 performer, then ran side-by-side until Zeray pulled clear after 35km and never looked back.

Ayele clocked 2:31:08 to finish second, her third podium finish to date, while Kiprop settled for third in 2:32:08.

In the men’s race, Ethiopian Yihunilign Adane celebrated his first marathon title since debuting over the classic distance in 2016, as the 23-year-old scored a 2:10:06 victory in the capital city of China’s Anhui Province.

The rising Ethiopian, who set a PB of 2:09:11 from a third finish in Beppu nine months ago, gained a hard-fought sole lead after 38km en route to a 52-second victory.

Mohamed Reda El Aaraby of Morocco, who will turn 30 on Tuesday, finished second in 2:10:58. Kenya’s Julius Tuwei, the fastest entrant with a 2:08:06 PB, trailed two seconds further behind to finish third.

The race saw a crowded leading group soon after the gun, before Chinese runner Liu Hongliang took the lead after 5km. The 2:15:22 performer was 13 seconds ahead at 10km in 30:25 but was gradually reeled in by the chasers and finally swallowed up by the pack near the 15km mark.

Ethiopia’s Abdela Godana then tried to push ahead in the next few kilometres, cutting the lead group to just four runners by 21km.

Tuwei seemed to lose his energy and began to drift back at 30km (1:32:19). But the Kenyan managed to fight back and caught the leaders before 35km, while the charges earlier seemed to cost too much from Godana as the 27-year-old faded away and out of the hunt.

After a series of unsuccessful mini-breaks from the leading trio, Adane finally pulled clear after 38km and went on to wrap-up the victory comfortably.

El Aaraby, the 10,000m gold medalist at the World Military Games in Wuhan two weeks ago, surpassed Tuwei in the home stretch to finish second.

Vincent Wu for the IAAF

Kiplimo and Gizaw set course records in Nanchang

Stephen Kiplimo and Melkam Gizaw broke the men’s and women’s course records respectively at the 2019 Nanchang International Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Sunday (10). 

The 31-year-old Kiplimo, who competed on Chinese soil for the first time, built a sole lead in the last 10 kilometres to cross the line in 2:09:54, smashing the 2:13:26 course record set by Kenyan compatriot countryman Douglas Kimeli in 2018.

It was the first time Kiplimo broke the 2:10 barrier, eclipsing his previous best of 2:11:28 set last February from his victory at the Castellon Marathon.

The race witnessed a fast pace in the early stages with a lead group of eight reaching 10km in 30:41 and 15km in 46:21. After passing the 25km in 1:17:13, the group started to shrink. 

By 30km (1:32:26), four runners remained in contention: Kiplimo, fellow Kenyan Cosmas Kyeva, Tadesse Temechachu of Ethiopia and Chinese Peng Jianhua, who only started to run the 42.195km race this season.

Kiplimo pushed ahead after the 32km mark and soon pulled clear, leaving the chasers scattered behind him. By 35km the Kenyan had built a comfortable lead with Temechachu lagging almost half a minute behind and Kyeva trailing further.

The in-form Kiplimo kept widening the gap and hit home in style to celebrate his third international marathon title.

The 32-year-old Kyeva overtook Temechachu in the last kilometre to cross the line in 2:11:11, the second fastest time of his career following a PB of 2:09:57 achieved in 2014. Temechachu finished third in 2:11:31.

The top-three finishers in the women’s race all beat the course record of 2:35:11 set last year by China’s Jin Mingming.

The 29-year-old Gizaw outraced compatriot Bekelu Beji in the final two kilometres to claim the title in 2:29:01. It is the first marathon title in four years for Gizaw, who just returned from maternity leave. Her last outing was a third place finish at the 2017 Xiamen marathon in 2:26:47.

Beji, 20, settled for second in 2:29:27, more than one minute shy of her career best of 2:28:21 set in Wuxi eight month ago.

Relatively unheralded Gadise Negesa set a PB of 2:30:30 to complete a podium sweep for Ethiopia.

Vincent Wu for the IAAF

Kurgat and Bayartsogt victorious at Nanjing Marathon

Kenya’s Joseph Moses Kiptoo Kurgat and Munkhzaya Bayartsogt of Mongolia took the top honours at the fifth edition of Nanjing Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Sunday (10).

The 28-year-old Kurgat emerged victorious from a two-man duel in the last 10 kilometres to set a personal best of 2:13:04, stretching Kenya’s win streak in the men’s race to three years.

It is the first win of the year taken for the China-based Kurgat, who collected three marathon titles last year in the Chinese cities of Heyuan, Youyu, and Wuyuan respectively.

Fellow Kenyan David Kipkoech finished second once again, following his runner-up finish in Liupanshui four months ago. His 2:13:53 clocking is nearly two minutes faster than his previous PB of 2:15:47 achieved last year in Nairobi.

Alphonce Kibiwott took third in 2:15:30. The 26-year-old was also from Kenya with a clocking of 2:09:49 set at Rennes Marathon in 2016.

In the women’s race, Bayartsogt was even more dominant.

The 26-year-old grabbed the lead soon after the start and never encountered a serious threat throughout the race.

Although the Mongolian’s pace slowed in the final stages, the past winner at the Taipei, Gunsan and Ulaanbaatar marathons reached the finish in 2:35:40 for a 32-second victory.

Roman Mengistu of Ethiopia, winner of 2017 Agadir Marathon in 2:28:20, clocked 2:36:12 to finish second, while her countrywoman Tesfaw Etalem clocked 2:47:46 to settle for the third place, the first podium finish for the 24-year-old.

Vincent Wu for the IAAF

Tafa rallies to win in Xichang

Shume Tafa overcame a deficit of more than one minute as the Ethiopian took the men’s title at the Xichang Qionghai Lake Wetland International Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Saturday (9).

The 27-year-old overtook compatriot Mulualem Negese Degefa, who paced the race alone for nearly 20 kilometres, after 40km and went on to notch his first victory over the classic distance in 2:14:56.

Kenya’s Paul Waweru lagged 38 seconds behind to finish second, while 29-year-old Degefa finished third in 2:16:10.

A leading group of nine runners reached the 10km mark in 30:48 and covered the next 5km with a split time 15:53. After another kilometre, Degefa, who clocked a personal best of 2:14:22 in Danzhou five years ago, started to move into pole position and tried to pull away. Although his attempt to take a sole lead was in vain, the leaders were trimmed to five and when they reached the 20km water tables in 1:02:20, only Degefa, Tafa and Waweru were left in the leading pack.

Degefa continued to push ahead. After 22km the Ethiopian finally pulled clear from the other two runners and he kept his fast pace to gradually widen the gap. Degefa led by 18 seconds at 25km and extended the margin to 1:06 at 35km with Tafa and Waweru still running together as co-chasers.

After 36km Degefa was still the sole leader but his speed started to reduce and his face showed occasional grimaces. The chasers, meanwhile, were closing the gap metre by metre. Degefa looked back after passing 40km in 2:08:40 and found Tafa was just some 100m away. He tried to maintain his lead but was soon caught by his compatriot.

Degefa was so disappointed for conceding the lead, he began to walk for a little while and was soon passed by Waweru, having to settle for the third place.

Aberash Demisse Korsa led all the way from the start line and clocked a winning mark of 2:40:43 in the women’s race to complete an Ethiopian double in the southwestern Chinese city, as Ethiopian runners took both titles for the second consecutive year in the six-year history of the race.

The 22-year-Ethiopian led alongside with the highly favoured Kenyan Josephine Chepkoech early in the race as they covered the first 10km in 36:16 and 15km in 54:08. But the 30-year-old Chepkoech, who was the fastest entrant on paper with a PB of 2:25:20, dropped back near the halfway mark.

Korsa slowed down in the remaining part of the race but did not meet any challenge before celebrating her first marathon victory. Morocco’s Sana Achahbar, a 2:32:36 performer, finished second in 2:42:13, while Chinese Zhang Meixia clocked 2:51:36 as a remote third-place finisher.

Vincent Wu for the IAAF