Sheila Chepkirui breaks 30 minutes at the Birell Prague 10k (Organisers) © Copyright
Report Prague, Czech Republic

Weekend road round-up: Chepkirui and Kimeli break 30 minutes at Prague 10k, Kosgei dominates Great North Run

Once again, the world all-time 10km lists underwent major revision at the Birell Prague 10km, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Saturday (7).

In the women's race, both winner Sheila Chepkirui and runner-up Dorcas Kimeli, who finished just half a step behind, were credited with 29:57 performances to become just the second and third women to cover the distance within 30 minutes. Only their Kenyan compatriot Joyciline Jepkosgei, who set the 29:43 world record on this same course in 2017, has run faster.

In the men's race, Geoffrey Koech fought off Mathew Kimeli in the waning stages to reach the finish line in a world-leading 27:02, equalling the legendary Haile Gebrselassie as the fourth fastest man ever. Kimeli clocked 27:07, to move up to No.7 all time.

The women were off to a blazing start, with Chepkirui, Kimeli and Norah Jeruto, better known as a standout steeplechaser, reaching the midway point in 14:46, with Fancy Chemutai another second back. 

That group was soon winnowed down to just Chepkirui and Kimeli who fought it out until the closing metres when Chepkirui finally prevailed by about half a second.

"The second five kilometres was very hard," Chepkirui said. "I was fighting so, so hard to win this race."

Jeruto, who beat world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech in the 3000m steeplechase at the IAAF Diamond League stop in Oslo in June, was third in 30:07.

Geoffrey Koech winning the Birell Prague 10k (Organisers)Geoffrey Koech winning the Birell Prague 10k (Organisers) © Copyright

 

Like the women, the leaders in the men's race set a blistering pace from the outset, with Benard Kimeli leading Geoffrey Koech, Mathew Kimeli, Bravin Kiptoo and Shadrack Koech leading the field through the first five kilometres in 13:23. Another five runners were well within striking distance, just one or two seconds behind.

The pace soon proved too much for most, with just Kiptoo, Geoffrey Koech and Matthew Kimeli left in the hunt after seven kilometres. Koech, the runner-up here last year, powered away over the final kilometre to secure the win.

"Of course there is a lot of space for improvement but still I am very happy with my result,” said the 26-year-old Koech, who clipped 15 seconds from his previous career best.

Kiptoo, 18, was third in 27:12, putting him third on the world U20 all-time list.

Earlier in the day, organisers of five leading international half marathons – the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon, the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon, the Copenhagen Half Marathon, the Cardiff University Cardiff Half Marathon and the Valencia Half Marathon Trinidad Alfonso EDP – announced the formation of the SuperHalfs international running series that brings the five events under one banner with the aim of promoting running, tourism and environmental sustainability in the host cities.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

 

Kosgei and Farah power to Great North Run titles

Brigid Kosgei smashed the course record at the Great North Run half marathon on Sunday (8), clocking 1:04:28 over the course from Newcastle upon Tyne to South Shields, England, the fastest performance ever over the distance.

As a point-to-point course and slightly downhill*, it's not valid for record purposes, but that shouldn't take away from the performance by the 25-year-old Kenyan who dominated the race from the outset.

Running at the front from the start, Kosgei, who raced to high-profile marathon victories in London in April and Chicago last October, covered the opening mile in 4:46 and forged on from there to clip more than a minute from the previous course record of 1:05:39 set by Mary Keitany in 2014.

Her en-route splits of 49:21 at 10 miles and 1:01:20 at 20km are also the fastest times ever recorded for those distances.

Magdalyne Masai was a distant second in 1:07:36, with Linet Masai third in 1:07:44. Keitany was next in 1:07:58 to round out a Kenyan sweep of the first four spots.

Farah raced to his sixth victory at the event, holding off Ethiopian Tamirat Tola over the final mile to win in 59:07.

World marathon silver medallist Tola was second in 59:13 with Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands third in 59:55. Further back, Callum Hawkins of Great Britain clocked 1:00:39 for fourth.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

* As per IAAF Rule 260.21, for a performance to be eligible for ratification as a world record:

  1. The start and finish points on the course, measured along a theoretical straight line between them, shall not be further apart than 50% of the race distance.
  2. The overall decrease in elevation between start and finish shall not exceed an average of 1m per km.

The Great North Run is contested on a point-to-point course with elevation loss of 30.5m and a start/finish separation of more than 75%.

 

Gurmu and Kimutai prevail at Taiyuan Marathon

Ethiopian’s Belainesh Yami Gurmu upset a solid field to take top honours at the Taiyuan International Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (8).

The race was staged under sunny conditions with the temperature ranging from 20-25C. A leading pack of seven runners paced the race to the 20-kilometre mark in 1:10:53 and to 25 kilometres in 1:29:07.

The 30-year-old Gurmu, who previously mainly competed in 10km and half marathon races and took the 2019 Ibiza Marathon title in 2:34:30 five months ago, held the pole position in the leading group for most of the race. When the leaders reached the 30km water station, only four runners were left and the in-form Gurmu waited for another eight kilometres before pushing ahead to take the lead.

The Ethiopian kept extending the lead before eventually crossing the line in 2:29:48. Her winning mark is the second fastest in the race’s ten-year history, 12 seconds shy of the course record set two years ago by Kenyan Chemutai Rionotukei.

Gurmu’s compatriot Tsehay Gebre, a 2:28:06 performer who will turn 27 in three days, failed to continue her winning streak in China following victories in Kunming last December and in Wuxi six months ago, as she clocked 2:30:27 to take second place.

Tsehay Maru, 25, trailed six seconds behind Gebre to complete a sweep of podium for Ethiopia.

Marius Kimutai, 26, the second fastest entrant in the field with a PB of 2:05:47 set three years ago in Amsterdam, emerged victorious from a thrilling three-man battle in the last two kilometres to become the first winner from Bahrain in the central Chinese city.

Kimutai’s winning time of 2:09:43 is also the second fastest here following the course record of 2:08:51, set by Kenya’s Berhanu Shiferaw back in 2012. 

The Bahraini was among a 10-man leading group that paced the race in the early stages. When they hit the 25km mark the leaders were trimmed to eight.

Kenya’s Justus Kimutai tried to pull away near the 35km mark. Although his effort went in vain, only four runners managed to catch up with his pace. And at the 38km the leading group was further cut to just four runners.

After another one kilometre, Marius Kimutai launched his charge, forcing Ethiopia’s Fikadu Girma to quit the contest for the title at 40 kilometres. The remaining three runners kept shoulder-to-shoulder thereafter until the Bahraini pulled clear some 200 metres before the finish.

Slapping his chest and pointing to his number bib, Kimutai celebrated his victory even before breaking the tape.

Justus Kimutai finished second in 2:09:46, which is the fastest result ever achieved on an eligible course for the 26-year-old.

Ethiopia’s Asnake Dubre, 20, improved his career best by half a minute to take third place in 2:09:51.

Vincent Wu for the IAAF