Prague, Czech Republic - Deposed champion in today’s Hervis Prague Half Marathon, Philemon Limo was in little doubt of the quality of Atsedu Tsegay’s winning run. “If there had been no wind today, this guy would have broken the World record,” opined the Kenyan.
The Hervis Prague Half Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Tsegay of Ethiopia ran away from Limo and his colleague Henry Kiplagat after 15k in cold and windy conditions in the Czech capital this lunchtime (31). Those who thought he had accelerated too early were soon disabused of their doubts, when Tsegay, a 20-year-old from Addis Ababa just went further and further away from his pursuers, eventually shattering Limo’s course record, by close to a minute, in clocking 58:47, the fastest time in the world this year.
Tsegay readily agreed with Limo, saying, “It was very difficult today, very windy. In my next race, I would like to try and break and the World record”. That belongs to Zersenay Tadese of neighbouring Eritrea, with 58.23, which he ran in Lisbon just over two years ago.
“I always knew he would be difficult, because he beat me in Marseille last year. We held him until 15k today, but after 15k it was impossible,” said Limo, who eventually finished third in 60.03, two seconds behind Kiplagat.
The Marseille to Cassis road race last October - an IAAF Silver Label Road Race - that Limo was referring to is on a very tough undulating course, and Tsegay broke that record too, as well as the 10km course record in another earlier French race, in Langueux. His previous half marathon best was almost one year ago in Rabat, Morocco, where he clocked 61:12, so this comprehensive demolition of that time, in addition to his recent victories signal a major shift upwards in Tsegay’s career, after an unspectacular international debut as a junior shortly after he began training seriously three years ago.
Tsegay’s immediate preoccupation is to make the Ethiopian team for the Olympic Games, where he will be more than a match for any of his colleagues at 10,000 metres at the moment, if he can translate his form, and pugnacious running style, to the track.
Kiplagat was satisfied with his debut at the distance, just outside the hour, and Limo, who in 59:30 last year, said, “Today was not my day; you can’t run well every time, so I’m happy with third place.”
The women’s race too was decided at 15km, when Joyce Chepkirui of Kenya eased away from her more favoured colleague, and defending champion, Lydia Cheromei, and another Kenyan, Gladys Cherono.
The trio finished in that order, with all of them running personal bests, headed by Chepkirui’s course record of 67:03, which was a personal best by over two minutes, and beat Cheromei’s former best by exactly 30 seconds. “I didn’t expect to beat Lydia,” said Cheromei, “but I got away from her at 15k, and I’m very happy with my new personal best.” Incidentally her coach and husband, Erick Kibet finished tenth in the men’s race in 62.32.
Cheromei bettered her time from last year by seven seconds, with 67:26, and signalled her intent to return for the Prague Marathon on 13 May, to defend her title and course record then. Cherono also had a significant improvement today, with 68.18, like Chepkirui, a new best by over two minutes.
This Hervis Prague Half Marathon was the biggest ever field for a mass race in the Czech Republic (close to 11,000 starters).
Pat Butcher for the IAAF
1 Atsedu TSEGAY ETH 58:47
2 Henry KIPLAGAT KEN 60:01
3 Philemon LIMO KEN 60:03
4 Josphat BETT KEN 61:01
5 Senteyehu MERGA ETH 61:02
6 Kenneth KIPKEMOI KEN 61:25
7 Geoffrey KANYAJUA KEN 61:52
8 Dawid WOLDE ETH 62:19
1 Joyce CHEPKIRUI KEN 67:03
2 Lydia CHEROMEI KEN 67:26
3 Gladys CHERONO KEN 68:18
4 Rose CHELIMO KEN 71:35
5 Tetiana GAMERA UKR 72:15
6 Lyudmila KOVALENKO UKR 73:35