Kenya’s women’s 4x1500m quartet improved the world record* by more than half a minute to 16:33.58 at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, The Bahamas, on Saturday (25).
The team of Mercy Cherono, Faith Kipyegon, Irene Jelagat and Hellen Obiri not only took the first prize of US$50,000 but also a world record bonus of US$50,00.
Cherono opened with a leg of 4:07.4, leading at the handover, Kipyegon followed with 4:08.5, Jalegat ran a leg of 4:10.8 with Obiri bringing Kenya home with 4:06.9 (all splits unofficial).
The previous world best of 17:05.72 was set by another Kenyan team in Nairobi last month.
Cherono, the Moscow 2013 5000m silver medallist, made no effort to start the 4x1500m as aggressively as the Kenyan men had gone after the 4x800m record earlier in the day, and Australia’s Zoe Buckman was able to stay close during the first leg.
Just after Buckman handed off to Bridey Delaney, however, the USA’s Kate Mackey took the baton from Heather Kampf and ran straight into the Australian lead off runner, with both tumbling to the track.
Mackey scrambled back to her feet but then faced a gap up to the pair in front of her.
Faith Kipyegon disposed of the Australian threat quite thoroughly in the second leg, opening up an 80-metre gap on Delaney, making her move from 500 metres onwards, before handing off to Jelegat.
In the third leg, in which Jelegat was running on her own, Kate Grace was able to close the remaining gap between the USA and Australia's Brittany McGowan and overtook the Antipodean to put the USA into second place.
Jelegat slowed a little over the last 400m of her stint, but when she handed off to Hellen Obiri, the record was clearly going to be decimated baring disaster but the latter took off like she was only running 800m, clearing the first lap in just 60 seconds.
Obiri also benefited from the appearance of the Romanian anchor in front of her, a target to chase, and she lapped the Romanian on her final circuit before leading home the first team to run under 17 minutes for the event.
The US women also came in under the old best at 16:55.33, and Australia's 17:08.65 for third was in shouting distance and an Area record.
Romania, lapped and trailing in fourth, still set another national record with their 17:51.48.
Parker Morse for the IAAF
*subject to the usual ratification procedures