Kiplimo and Jepchirchir take half marathon crowns in Poland

Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the Women's Final during the Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images)
Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the Women's Final during the Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images)

Tokyo 2020 hopefuls graced the World Half Marathon Championship in Poland on Sunday (17 October) which saw a pre-race favourite miss out on a medal and a world record broken 

Kiplimo goes where no Uganda has before

While his fellow compatriot Joshua Cheptegei was the pre-race favourite, it was 19-year-old Jacob Kiplimo who took victory in the men's elite race.

Meanwhile, Kenya's Kibiwott Kandie finished second in 58:54 with Ethiopia's Amdework Walelign third in 59:08.

The race also saw the first 10 runners break 60 minutes - the first time that has happened at the event and just second time ever - while a record 28 men finished inside 61 minutes.

Cheptegei, who was chasing his fourth win from four races this season - breaking the 10,000m world record just 10 days prior - just missed out on a podium with a fourth place finish with a 59:21.

"My body was really going very well but I discovered I still had some fatigue in the legs. I couldn’t give more than that," Chepetgei said after the race.

"I have been training more for 5,000m and 10,000m so I was not well prepared for it, but I’m very happy – running a sub-60 is really special for me," he added.

Kiplimo clocked a championship record of 58:49 in his debut at the event. The 19-year-old has only raced in one half marathon previously which came in Kampala last year.

"It was an amazing race and the course was good," said Kiplimo after the race. "I am happy I have run my personal best and Championship record."

“I feel very happy. I feel great, it was my first time at the World Half Marathon Championships and I won!"

Kiplimo's victory also saw him become the first Ugandan to win an individual medal at the World Half Marathon Championships - the country's one medal was their men's team medal bronze in 2004.

His 2020 season has seen him run a world lead of 7:26.64 in the 3,000m at the Rome Diamond League which came after his 5,000m win in Ostrava.

Kiplimo, who competed in the 5,000m at Rio 2016, is also setting his sights on the 5,000m and 10,000 at Tokyo 2020 next year and would likely be coming up against Chepetgei.

World record in women's elite

Peres Jepchirchir bettered her own world record as she re-gained her world half marathon crown.

The Kenyan long-distance runner, who had only set the world record seven weeks ago, went 18 seconds fastest in Poland, clocking a time of 1:05:16.

"It's unbelievable," she told World Athletics.

"My goal was to win this race. I did not expect that I would beat the world record, but I realised that it could happen when we passed 20km. It was a little bit windy, but the course was good for me."

A race defining moment came after Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh, the current mixed-gender world-record holder, hit the front for the first time. However, she hit the ground accidentally tripping Jepkosgei.

After that, Jepchirchir, Yalemzerf Yehualaw (second) and Melat Yisak Kejeta (third) cautiously ran the remainder of the race before the Kenyan unleashed her speed 30m from the line. It was her second global title at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships Gdynia 2020.

At the moment, Jepchirchir is not part of Kenya's Olympic Marathon team which was selected in January. However, the 27-year-old is hopeful their might be a revision since the Olympic Games were postponed.

“Maybe if I can run a good time I can be selected, but Kenya has strong ladies,” she said.

For now, Jepchirchir is looking to the Valencia Marathon, scheduled for 6 December.