Fighting unseasonably warm conditions, Agnes Jeruto Barsosio of Kenya set a new race record to highlight the sixth Ceske Budejovice Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Saturday (3).
With the mercury holding steady at 27 C throughout the late afternoon contest, the 34-year-old clocked 1:09:53 to put a big dent in the previous record of 1:10:40 set last year by Ashete Bekere of Ethiopia.
In the men's race, Justus Kangogo broke from the elite pack before the halfway point and maintained his momentum en route to a 1:02:47 win.
The women's race began with two clear favourites: Kenyans Lucy Kabuu and Rebecca Chesir. But in the end, however, both were outperformed by their compatriot Barsosio who left all her rivals behind in the fifth kilometre en route to the new race standard.
"I’m really pleased with the win and the personal record," said Barsosio, whose previous lifetime best of 1:10:50 was set in 2015. "Completing the race in under seventy minutes today is something I consider a huge success and I’m truly delighted that I’ve finally done it.”
Chesir was a distant second in 1:13:05 with Ukrainian Olga Skrypak surprising with a 1:14:12 clocking to round out the podium.
In the men's contest, Kangogo's efforts were assisted early on when another pre-race favourite, Abraham Akopesha, lost his shoe in the first seven kilometres. Kangogo then pulled away for good and was never threatened.
"I think it was one of the most difficult races I’ve ever run," said Kangogo, who improved to 59:41 at the Rome-Ostia Half Marathon in March.
"I was on my own for a long time, and was pretty surprised to see the others drop off so soon. Today’s time may well be a fair way off my personal best, but given the heat which didn’t give us any rest throughout the whole race, I have to say I’m pleased.”
Well back, Paul Kariuki Mwangi took second in 1:04:33 with Brazil's Paulo Paula pulling off a surprise to finish third in 1:05:25. Japans Hideto Yamanaka also experienced a successful European debut, finishing fourth place in 1:06:19.
Wilson Kipsang, one of the finest marathoners in recent years, was hit by a calf problem and didn't finish.