The women-only half marathon world record* was improved to 1:06:11 at the IAAF/Trinidad Alfonso World Half Marathon Championships Valencia 2018 on Saturday (24).
It wasn’t, however, acquired by race favourite Joyciline Jepkosgei, who owns the mixed-race standard of 1:04:51, but by slightly surprising Ethiopia’s Netsanet Gudeta.
Gudeta – with the name Kebede on her bib in reference to her extended family name but who appears in vast majority of race results and is better known by solely her father’s name – made a decisive bid for glory in the 14th kilometre to shake off both Jepkosgei and her little-known Kenyan compatriot Pauline Kamulu and was never headed over the final third of the race.
She reduced Lornah Kiplagat’s world and championship record, which had stood since the 2007 edition, by 14 seconds – as well as slicing 1:15 off her own personal best set in Delhi last November – and fittingly, after being slumped for a time beside the barriers beyond the finish line while she regained her composure, was helped to her feet and congratulated by the Dutch woman whose records she had just superseded.
Records looked likely from the moment the gun went.
A 13-strong group consisting of the three Kenyan runners on the final entry list and all five of the Ethiopia and Bahrain women’s squads flew through the first 3km in 9:20.
Admittedly, the opening kilometres saw the runners have gusting winds on their back, but the predicted finishing time was well inside 66 minutes and stayed that way for the next two kilometres despite a slight easing off of the pace before 5km was passed in 15:39.