A Recordsetting Fall Road Scene

Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey turned in an unreal time in the 15K. (GLOBAL SPORTS MEDIA HOUSE)

IS IT THE SHOES? Not to take anything away from some great athletes, but as 2019 wound down, the hyper-fast times just kept on a-comin’ and one has to wonder. Three non-marathon distances checked in with World Records, two of which were reported in last month’s “For The Record” section but didn’t have news stories.

5K World Record For Robert Keter

Lille, France, November 09—An absolute neophyte to road racing, Robert Keter gave new meaning to the term “auspicious” with a World Record in his debut over 5K. The 30-year-old Kenyan pulled away with three countrymen in the final mile on the flat course. Keter, who has only run 14:19.95 on the track while concentrating on the steeple in past years, led over the entire last kilometer, kicking to the win in 13:22, as his three challengers—Gilbert Kwemoi, Stanley Waithaka, Davis Kiplangat—were all clocked at 13:28. All 4 broke the IAAF’s recognized WR of 13:29 set by Switzerland’s Julien Wanders and Kenya’s Edward Cheserek earlier this year, but the mark still is quite shy of the unratified—but statistically viable—13:00 that Sammy Kipketer ran in both ’00 and ’01.

A 15K WR Stunner For Letesenbet Gidey

Nijmegen, Netherlands, November 17—Even though the 15K is no longer an official WR distance, Letesenbet Gidey’s stunning 44:20 on a record-quality loop in the Seven Hills race caused collective jaws to drop. A 21-year-old Ethiopian who scored silver in the 10,000 in Doha, Gidey crushed Joyciline Jepkosgei’s old record of 45:37 from ’17 by more than a minute.

Gidey went after it from the start, hitting the first 5K—mostly uphill—in 15:07. The next stretch went even faster, a 14:36 that brought her to 10K in 29:43 (which is the ratified WR for the distance). While she slowed over the next mile, she summoned a strong finish on a downhill stretch to crush the record. Her final 5K took 14:37; her last 10K a stunning 29:13—fastest recording in any conditions, track or road, but also generally downhill. “I felt I was in good form in preparation for the race and my legs felt good all through the race,” she said. “I was quite surprised to see how much time I was able to get off the previous World Record to be honest but I had great legs and it was a really nice race.”

Joshua Cheptegei Claims 10K WR

Valencia, Spain, December 01—World track 10,000 champ Joshua Cheptegei tried his fitness out in a road 10K and came home in a WR 26:38 to win the Trinidad Alfonso race by nearly 2:00. “World cross champion in Denmark, 10,000 world champion in Doha, and now the World Record here in Valencia. What a year it has been!” said the 23-year-old Ugandan. “I can’t believe it. I knew that Valencia was going to be a really fast course, one of the fastest in the world. So to get to achieve what we came here for is something really special.”

Cheptegei followed the first pacesetter for the first 2K, at one point moving to the lead to signal he wanted a faster tempo. Then, with the remaining rabbits, countrymen Stephen Kissa and Abdallah Mande, he ripped through 3K in 7:57. After dropping them, Cheptegei hit 5K in 13:23, just a second slower than the freshly minted WR at that distance. At 8K (21:37) the 23-year-old was solidly on pace to break the 26:44 set by Patrick Komen in ’10. Second was another Ugandan, Kevin Bett, in 28:19. Cheptegei indicated he will be competing in March’s World Half-Marathon Champs as part of his buildup to the Olympic 10,000.

Valencia’s Marathon Hot Too

Valencia staged a marathon the same day as Cheptegei’s WR, with the 26M times continuing to make heads spin. On the men’s side Kinde Atanaw ran the No. 3 debut time ever with his stunning 2:03:51. The 26-year-old Ethiopian gave some indication of his fitness with a 60:13 half-marathon in September, but this far exceeded that. Behind him, Turkey’s Kaan Kigen Özbilen lowered the European Record to 2:04.16, with two more Ethiopians—Guye Adola 2:04:42, Abebe Degefa 2:04:51 PR—also breaking 2:05.

The women’s race was even more boggling as Roza Dereje of Ethiopia moved to No. 8 on the all-time list with her 2:18:30, with countrywomen Azmera Abreha (2:18:33 PR) and Birhane Dibaba (2:18:46 PR) moving into spots 8 and 12. Overall, places 3-10 set the fastest times ever recorded for those positions. By the numbers: 1. Dereje 2:18:30 PR (8, 11 W) (course record—old cr 2:21:14 Ashete Bekele [Eth] ’18) (€130,000); 2. Abreha 2:18:33 PR (10, x W); 3. Dibaba 2:18:46 PR (12, x W); 4. Vivian Cheruiyot (Ken) 2:18:52; 5. Zeineba Yimer (Eth) 2:19:28 PR; 6. Workenesh Edesa (Eth) 2:20:24 PR; 7. Purity Rionoripo (Ken) 2:20:39 PR; 8. Abeba Gebremeskel (Eth) 2:22:29 PR; 9. Tadelech Bekele (Eth) 2:22:53; 10. Priscah Jeptoo (Ken) 2:24:16.

Where will it all end? ◻︎

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