Kenya’s Abraham Kiptum Breaks World Half Marathon Record In Valencia With 58:18

One year after his compatriot Joyciline Jepkosgei broke the women’s world record at the Medio Maratón de Valencia Trinidad Alfonso, Kenya’s Abraham Kiptum broke the men’s world record* at the IAAF Gold Label road race on Sunday (28), clocking 58:18 to take five seconds off the mark set by Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese in 2010.

At yesterday’s technical meeting it was confirmed that the men’s pacemakers would reach the 10km point in 27:50 to target a finishing time just inside 59 minutes, but there wasn’t any talk of a possible world record assault.

On a perfect day for endurance events (a slight wind and 11C), the race opened according to the plan with the main pack passing the opening five kilometres in 13:56. By 10 kilometres, the pace had dropped slightly as the 15-man lead pack went through that checkpoint in 28:02.

But shortly afterwards the long-legged Kiptum broke away from the rest of the pack with incredible ease and began to cover each kilometre in a stunning 2:44.

The 15-kilometre split of 41:40 – just seven seconds slower than Tadese’s equivalent split from his world record run – suggested that Kiptum was on course to break his PB of 59:09 set six weeks ago in Copenhagen. Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer was still just two seconds behind Kiptum, and his compatriot Abadi Hadi, the world cross-country bronze medallist, was in third, another second in arrears.

Boosted by the crowd and fully aware that he was close to world record schedule, Kiptum kept on pushing hard to open a sizeable margin over the Ethiopian pair. The Kenyan reached 20 kilometres in 55:18 to take three seconds off Tadese’s previous world best of 55:21 set on his way to his world half marathon best of 58:23 in Lisbon eight years ago.

Having covered the second 10-kilometre section in 27:16, Kiptum strode home in 58:18 to bring the world record back to his country’s possession, Samuel Wanjiru being his predecessor in 2007 (58:35). Valencia, meanwhile, is now the venue of both men’s and women’s world records.

“I can’t believe it, I’m over the moon,” said 29-year-old Kiptum. “Obviously I knew I was in good shape because I set a PB last month in Copenhagen but I was eager to run in Valencia because it’s one of the flattest circuits I’ve ever run and I was confident of improving on my best.

“I realised the race slowed down between the ninth and 10th kilometre so I decided to step up the pace and go for everything.”

Kiptum, who spends most of his time in his native Kenya, plans to run in the Abu Dhabi Marathon on 7 December. “I would like to reach the midway in 1:02:30 and finish under 2:05,” he said of his plans for that race.

Runner-up Yimer also destroyed his previous career best of 59:00 as he was timed at 58:33 to move to third on the world all-time list while 21-year-old Hadis clocked 58:44, lowering his best by almost two minutes.

In the fierce battle to be first European home, Britain’s Callum Hawkins finished in 1:01:00 for 16th with Spain’s Toni Abadía making a respectable debut over the distance in 1:01:15.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF

*Subject to the usual ratification procedures

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