05 APR 2014 Report Prague, Czech Republic

Chepkirui breaks course record in Prague with 1:06:19

Joyce Chepkirui on her way to winning the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon (VIctah Sailer for Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon)Joyce Chepkirui on her way to winning the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon (VIctah Sailer for Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon) © Copyright

Joyce Chepkirui fulfilled the pre-race expectations and smashed the course record to win the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, in 1:06:19 on Saturday (5).

Dominating the race from the start, her winning time was the fifth-fastest time ever run on a record-eligible course. Fellow Kenyan Emily Chebet took second in 1:08:28 and Ethiopia’s Wude Ayalew followed in third with 1:09:23.

The men’s race also produced fast times in fine weather conditions. Kenya’s Peter Kirui dominated the race and was rewarded with a personal best of 59:22, the sixth fastest in the world this year.

Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia was second with 59:54 and Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru followed in 59:59 as all three set personal bests.

Chasing a sub-66-minute time, Chepkirui burst away from her rivals at the start. Guided by her pacemaker Erick Kibet, who is both her husband and coach, Chepkirui produced splits of 15:16 for 5km and 30:56 for 10km, which suggested she might even threaten the world record of 1:05:12, set earlier this year by Chepkirui’s training partner, Florence Kiplagat.

“I was feeling fine at 5km, 10km and 15km,” said the 25-year-old. But she slowed in the third 5km section and it became clear the world record was out of reach when she passed the 15km mark in 46:49.

But there was no question as to who would win the race. With 5km to go, Chepkirui was about 90 seconds ahead of two-time world cross-country champion Chebet and 2009 world 10,000m bronze medallist Ayalew.

“I hoped to run under 66 minutes, but the last kilometre was very tough. But I am of course very happy to have won this race with a course record and a personal best,” said Chepkirui, who earned €34,000 in total, including time and course record bonuses, for her 1:06:19 performance.

Chepkirui had already set a course record and a PB in Prague two years ago with 1:07:03, but it was broken one year later by Gladys Cherono, the Kenyan who won this year’s IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.

Additionally, Chepkirui continued a unique Kenyan series in the Czech capital as it was the fourth time in succession that the women’s course record had been broken. In 2011 Lydia Cheromei ran 1:07:33, then came Chepkirui with her 1:07:03, which was bettered by Cherono with 1:06:48.

The depth of the elite women’s race was also impressive as five women ran faster than 70 minutes.

Better known as a race walker, 18-year-old Anezka Drahotova was the top Czech finisher in 11th place with 1:14:25. Drahotova finished seventh in the 20km race walk at last year’s IAAF World Championships, having won the European junior title earlier that year. The mult-talented teenager is also an accomplished steeplechaser and cyclist.

Kirui just as dominant as Chepkirui

The men also set out fast and were always on course for a time of about 59 minutes.

A group of eight athletes passed the 10km mark in 28:07 behind Kenyan pacemaker Hillary Kipchumba. When Peter Kirui moved away in the 14th kilometre, he was soon all on his own.

“It was a strong field, so I was surprised that no one went with me,” said the 26-year-old, who had entered the race with a personal best of 59:39.

At the 15km mark, which he passed in 42:01, Kirui was already 15 seconds ahead of a chasing group of four runners. His advantage over Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew, Daniel Wanjiru – the latter no relation to the late, great Sammy – Nicholas Kipkemboi and Henry Kiplagat was growing. And in the end he was 32 seconds clear of his nearest rival.

“I tried hard to run a personal best, because the conditions were very good,” said Kirui, who has recently undergone a training course at the police academy in Nairobi, alongside the former marathon world record-holder Patrick Makau. “At 15km I still felt fine and knew that I could win the race.”

He will soon be known as constable Kirui, but then it will be back to full athletics training and a different kind of promotion. “May be I could go for the world half marathon record,” said Kirui, who earned €19,000 for his efforts. “I might come back to Prague next year and try.”

Jorg Wenig (organisers) for the IAAF


1 Peter Kirui (KEN) 59:22
2 Mosinet Geremew (ETH) 59:54
3 Daniel Wanjiru (KEN) 59:59
4 Nicholas Kipkemboi (KEN) 1:00:11
5 Henry Kiplagat (KEN) 1:00:24
6 Bernard Bett (KEN) 1:00:47
7 Evans Kiplagat Barkowet (KEN) 1:00:55
8 Nicholas Bor (KEN) 1:01:25
9 Million Feysa (ETH) 1:01:26
10 Hunegnaw Mesfin (ETH) 1:01:50

1 Joyce Chepkirui (KEN) 1:06:19
2. Emily Chebet (KEN) 1:08:26
3 Wude Ayalew (ETH) 1:09:23
4 Esther Chemtai (KEN) 1:09:49
5 Afera Godfay (ETH) 1:09:52
6 Waganesh Mekasha (ETH) 1:10:23
7 Betelhem Moges (ETH) 1:10:37
8 Bouchra Ghezielle (FRA) 1:11:04
9 Firehiwot Dado (ETH) 1:11:15
10 Natalya Popkova (RUS) 1:13:58