The New Half Marathon World Record: 1:04:51!
There’s a new half marathon world record–and wow is it fast! On Sunday, October 22, 23-year-old Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya finished first in the Valencia Half Marathon in Valencia, Spain, one of the IAAF’s Gold Label road races, with a time of 1:04:51. The previous half marathon world record was set earlier this year at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon, also by Jepkosgei, with a time one second slower than her race in Spain. Most impressive of all? These were just two of Jepkosgei’s six world record-breaking times of 2017.
Many eyes were focused on Jepkosgei for Sunday’s race, as it was expected that she might set a new half marathon world record for the second time this year. Following on the heels of the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10K last month, where Jepkosgei not only set a world record with a time of 29:43 but also became the first woman to finish a 10K beneath the 30-minute barrier, the Valencia Half Marathon seemed a likely place for another blistering run. After the gun fired in Valencia, Jepkosgei took off with steeplechaser Ezekiel Kemboi, her pacer for the race, and clocked 14:52 for the race’s first 5K and a 30:09 for the first 10K. After those incredible early speeds, Jepkosgei slowed a bit for the third 5K segment, passing the 15K marker in 45:59. Though there was concern mid-race that Jepkosgei’s 15K time meant she was slowing down, she picked the pace back up near the end and zoomed to the finish line.
Once the race was over, Jepkosgei expressed appreciation for Valencia’s weather and the half marathon course to IAAF reporters–valuable comments, given that the 2018 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships will be held in Valencia on March 24. “I hope to come back in March,” Jepkosgei told the IAAF. Might she set another new half marathon world record next spring? Only time will tell.