•Kwemoi improved the men’s course record to 59:15 to beat his training partner Daniel Mateiko (1:00:05) and Emmanuel Bor, who had started the race as a pacemaker.
•The men’s race leaders were also on pace to break Jacob Kiplimo’s world record of 57:31 set in Lisbon last year in the opening kilometres and Kwemoi, Mateiko and their compatriot Bor were just off that tempo through 5km in 13:40.
Hellen Obiri ran the 10th fastest ever women’s half marathon and Rodgers Kwemoi broke the course record to win the N Kolay Istanbul Half Marathon, a World Athletics Elite Label road race today.
Both races got off to a blistering start and while the early world record pace could not be maintained on a sunny and breezy morning, Kenya’s Obiri and Kwemoi held on to triumph by a big margin, beating two strong fields.
Two-time world 5000m champion Obiri ran 1:04:48 to win the women’s race by more than a minute ahead of Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu and Bekelech Gudeta, while Kwemoi improved the men’s course record to 59:15 to beat his training partner Daniel Mateiko (1:00:05) and Emmanuel Bor, who had started the race as a pacemaker.
The N Kolay Istanbul Half Marathon was one of the few international races that went ahead last year during the pandemic and it ended with a world record by Ruth Chepngetich, the world marathon champion running 1:04:02. Since then, that women’s world record has been improved to 1:02:52 by Letesenbet Gidey in Valencia and it was that mark the leaders were on target for in the early stages.
Running with a male pacemaker, Obiri was joined by Gemechu as they passed 5km in 14:45, putting them on a projected pace of just outside 62 minutes, with Ethiopia’s Bekelech Gudeta and Kenya’s Vicoty Chepngeno running together 10 seconds behind them. Turkey’s Yasemin Can was another 10 seconds back.
Speeding up further still, it was no surprise to see Obiri open a gap on Gemechu, but that pace could not be sustained in the windy conditions and the world cross-country champion had slowed by the 10km point, although that was still passed in 30:01.
By that stage, she was half a minute ahead of Gemechu, who had been caught by Chepngeno and Gudeta.
Obiri continued to forge ahead, passing 15km in 45:27 and 20km in 1:01:16 to eventually win in 1:04:48, improving both her time and position from the event 12 months earlier, when she was third behind Chepngetich in 1:04:51 – the fastest debut half marathon in history. Obiri currently sits fifth on the world all-time list with the 1:04:22 she ran to finish second at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon last month.
Gemechu, who won last year’s Copenhagen Half Marathon in a PB of 1:05:08, battled the challenge posed by Chepngeno and Gudeta and solo ran her way to second place in 1:05:52. Gudeta was third in 1:06:35, Chepngeno fourth in 1:06:58, and Can fifth in 1:07:57.
The top 11 finished inside 70 minutes, while Moira Stewartova was just outside that and broke the Czech Republic record with 1:10:14 to finish 12th.
The men’s race leaders were also on pace to break Jacob Kiplimo’s world record of 57:31 set in Lisbon last year in the opening kilometres and Kwemoi, Mateiko and their compatriot Bor were just off that tempo through 5km in 13:40.