Joan Melly winning the Prague half marathon (organisers) © Copyright
Report Prague, Czech Republic

Melly sizzles to 1:05:04 victory at Prague Half Marathon

Joan Melly won the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon today (7), clocking 1:05:04 in the Czech capital to highlight the 20th running of this IAAF Gold Label road race.

On a tear from the outset, Melly passed the opening five kilometres in 14:51, reached 10k in 30:14 and 15 in 45:54, an ambitious pace that came back to haunt the 27-year-old Kenyan in the waning stages. Her performance nonetheless elevated her to the No. 4 position all-time with the fifth fastest run.

“The first five kilometres were exceptionally fast with us running it in under 15 minutes, but I didn’t look at my watch at all, I just followed the pacemakers," said Melly, who set her previous lifetime best of 1:05:37 at the RAK Half in Ras Al Khaimah in February, where she finished fourth.

"I felt my strength wane a bit towards the end, but it was still enough to break a new personal best and secure a win. I’m incredibly happy I managed to do it in Prague and would like to thank everyone who helped me achieve this result."

Her compatriot Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui was second in 1:06:09 followed by Worknesh Degefa from Ethiopia, the runner-up last year and winner in 2015, who clocked 1:08:10.

Further back, Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová finished eighth in 1:11:01 to clip one second from the Czech national record set by Alena Peterkova nearly 24 years ago. “If you’d asked me before the race, I’d never have believed I was capable of such a result, it’s absolutely amazing,” said Vrabcová-Nývltová , who was assisted throughout by pacesetter Emmanuel Biwott. Vrabcová-Nývltová's previous lifetime best of 1:11:06 also came on the streets of Prague in the 2016 edition.

 

Benard Kimeli triumphs at Prague half marathon (organisers)Benard Kimeli triumphs at Prague half marathon (organisers) © Copyright

 

In the men's race, Benard Kimeli broke from a three-man pack in the final kilometre to claim an emphatic victory in 59:47.

"I won the 10-kilometre Birell Prague Grand Prix last year, and now can add the half marathon to that," said Kimeli, who dipped under the one-hour barrier in just his second race over the distance. He finished eighth in Ras Al Khaimah in February, clocking 1:00:16. He clocked 27:10 in that Prague 10km last year, the fastest performance in the world in 2017.

"Prague really suits me and I race well here. The conditions went in our favour today and I’m really pleased that I managed to win."

Geoffrey Yegon was second in 59:56 with Peter Kwemoi third in 59:58 to round out the Kenyan podium sweep. Spots four through nine also were claimed by Kenyan runners.

You can watch the race highlights here.

Bob Ramsak and organisers for the IAAF

Leading results:
MEN -
1. Benard Kimeli, KEN, 59:47
2. Geoffrey Yegon, KEN, 59:56
3. Peter Kwemoi, KEN, 59:58
4. Abel Kipchumba, KEN, 1:00:05
5. Shadrack Kiplagat, KEN, 1:00:06
6. Abraham Kapsis Kipyatich, KEN, 1:00:08
7. Justus Kangogo, KEN, 1:00:24
8. Joshat Kimutai Tanui, KEN, 1:01:14
9. Edmond Kipngetich, KEN, 1:01:19
10. Eyob Faniel, ITA, 1:02:27
 
WOMEN -
1. Joan Melly, KEN, 1:05:04
2. Caaroline Chepkoech Kipkirui, KEN, 1:06:09
3. Worknesh Degefa, ETH, 1:08:10
4. Risper Chebet, KEN, 1:09:25
5. Antonina Kwambai, KEN, 1:09:48
6. Flomena Chepchirchir, KEN, 1:09:52
7. Gladys Kimaina, KEN, 1:10:40
8. Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová, CZE, 1:11:01
9. Sviatlana Kudzelich, BLR, 1:11:45
10. Catherine Bertone, ITA, 1:13:51