NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 9 – Benard Kimeli successfully defended his title at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon, while Caroline Kipkurui won the women’s race as Kenyans secured a double at the IAAF Gold Label road race over the weekend.
The 23-year-old Kimeli clocked 59:07 to prevail in a tight dual over compatriot Felix Kibitok, who finished one step and one second behind.
“I was well prepared, and the pacemakers did a good job and I am also happy with the time,” said Kimeli, who clipped 40 seconds from his previous career best.
Kibitok also put in a strong performance, improving his lifetime best by 13 seconds.
The fastest half marathon runner of the year, Stephen Kiprop, finished third in 59:20. From the opening metres, the favoured Kenyan contingent broke away and ran together until the 15th kilometre.
Caroline Kipkirui clocked 1:05:44 to win the women’s race by nearly half a minute over Lonah Salpeter of Israel, who clocked 1:06:09 to improve her own national record by 31 seconds.
“I am happy to be able to improve my performance here, and I really did the best I was able to do,” said Kipkirui, who holds a 1:05:07 personal best set last year to currently sit in the No.6 position on the world all-time list.
“Although I was running almost the whole race myself, it was not easy, but I am glad that I could do it.”
Lydia Mathathi was a distant third in 1:07:52.
-Mwetich, Mutgaa secure Kenyan double in Hannover
Elsewhere, Silas Mwetich and Racheal Mutgaa secured anorther Kenyan double when they cruised to victories at the HAJ Hannover Marathon.
Mwetich, 22, clocked 2:09:37 to take the race after running away after the 35 kilometre mark, clipping more than seven minutes from his previous personal best.
Hosea Kipkemboi of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Debas Alebachew Wale finished second and third with 2:10:40 and 2:10:57 respectively. Germany’s Arne Gabius was a distant seventh in 2:14:29.
In the women’s race, Mutgaa took command after the 35th kilometre. The 31-year-old clocked a course record of 2:26:15, lowering her own career best from 2:28:39.
-Chepngetich sizzles at Istanbul half
In Turkey, Ruth Chepngetich clocked 1:05:30 to smash her own course record at the Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon while Bernard Ng’eno won the corresponding men’s race.
Running with Kenyan compatriot Dorcas Tuitoek through the opening five kilometres in 15:11, Chepngetich broke away soon thereafter, scorching through the 10km checkpoint in 30:33, 17 seconds clear of 21-year-old Jepchirchir, her nearest challenger. Chepngetich slowed over the next five kilometres, reaching 15 kilometres in 46:15, but still padded her lead to 23 seconds. She was nearly a minute ahead by 20 kilometres (1:02:11) and eventually won by 1:03 over Jepchirchir, who crossed the line in 1:06:33 in what was apparently her debut over the distance.
Chepngetich clearly enjoys competing in Turkey’s largest city. The 24-year-old set the course record of 1:06:19 in April 2017, then returned seven months later for the Istanbul Marathon, winning in 2:22:36 in her debut over the distance.
She returned a year later to make a massive marathon breakthrough, clocking 2:18:35. In January she ran faster still, winning in Dubai in 2:17:08, this year’s fastest time. Her performance this time elevates her to 11th on the all-time half marathon list, and second on the 2019 list.
In the men’s race, 22-year-old Ngeno fought back Ethiopian Abayneh Degu’s late race challenge to secure his second half marathon victory of the year, clocking 59:56.
Ngeno was aggressive from the gun, running at the front of the lead packs that consisted of 14 runners at five kilometres (14:19) and ten at ten kilometres (28:17) before jumping to a nine-second lead after 15 kilometres (42:29).
-Course record for Kiprono in Madrid
In Spain, Kenya’s Kipkemoi Kiprono and Tigist Teshome of Ethiopia secured their respective victories at the Movistar Madrid Half Marathon.
While the men’s victor managed to lower the previous race record by seven seconds thanks to a 1:01:47 performance, Teshome’s clocking came 28 seconds outside the women’s best.
The men’s race opened at a cautious rhythm as the first half of the race was uphill. The leading group reached five kilometres in 15:07, composed of 12 men including the favourites Kiprono, Ronald Kiptotich, Bernard Kiprop Kipyego, Ethiopia’s Tesfaye Abera and South Africa’s Desmond Mokgobu.
Kenya’s Langat Kipkurui went through the 10km checkpoint in 30:10 closely followed by Kiprono and the Ethiopian tandem of Abera and Erkihum Jenberie as the main group had whittled down to nine.
Shortly before the 18th kilometre, Kiprono shook off his rivals and began to cushion his lead and turning his attention, successfully, to breaking the 1:01:54 course record.
-Kimeli smashes course record in Kyiv
Having built up a lead of almost one minute at the half-way point of the Kyiv Half Marathon, Daisy Jeptoo Kimeli was nearly caught on the line but held on to win the IAAF Bronze Label road race by one second in a course record of 1:10:53.
Bernard Cheruiyot Sang made it a Kenyan double by winning the men’s race, another close contest, in 1:03:42.