Kenya’s Joyceline Jepkosgei clocked 1:06:56 to finish second in the New Delhi Half Marathon, IAAF Gold Label Road Race, yesterday.
Jepkosgei, who is also the World Half Marathon record holder, trailed winner Ethiopia’s Tseshay Gemechu, who took the honours in 1:06:50. Ethiopia’s Zeineba Yimer completed the podium in 1:06:59 with another Kenyan Stacy Ndiwa finishing fourth in 1:07:15. Former Olympic and world 5,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba failed top keep up with the pace, coming in sixth in 1:07:49.
Gemechu, running her first half marathon, took four seconds off the nine-year-old previous record set by Kenya’s Mary Keitany in 2009, to take home USD$27,000 (Sh2.7 million) first prize in one of the richest half marathon in the world. In a race full of drama and surprises, the 20-year-old Ethiopian out-sprinted the world record holder Jepkosgei in the final few hundred metres.
The first shock was the sight of the three-time Olympic champion Dibaba visibly starting to struggle as early as the 5km mark as she clung on to the back of the women’s leading group. She was still hanging on at 10km as a pack of eight, assisted by male pacemaker Timothy Kutto, went through that checkpoint in 31:42. However, she soon became detached and ceased to be a factor in the women’s race. Four women—Gemechu, Jepkosgei, Kenya’s Stacy Ndiwa and Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi – followed Kutto through 15km in 47:51 but Teferi, another half marathon debutante, decided to take off shortly afterwards.
At 19km, Teferi had a 12-second advantage over the chasing pair of Gemechu and Jepkosgei who seemingly were battling for second place. However, with little more than a kilometre to go, Teferi started to slow dramatically and was soon barely raising her gait above walking pace. Teferi drifted to the side of the road and with about 700 metres to go almost came to a halt as Gemechu and Jepkosgei sped past her before she dropped out due to dehydration, although she recovered quickly after getting treatment.
Gemechu then showed her speed honed over three quick and high quality 10km races earlier in the year and shook off the world record holder for 10km and the half marathon as the finish line in the Jawahrlal Nehru Stadium approached. In the mes category, Andamlak Berihu took the top honours. posting 59:18 with compatriot Amdework Walelegn taking second spot in 59:22. Kenya’s Daniel Kipchumba was third in 59:48.