3 Wins For Kamworor, WR For Gudeta
Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Netsanet Gudeta Kebede dominated their races to win gold at the World Half Marathon Championships in Spain’s Mediterranean seaside town of Valencia.
The 25-year-old Kamworor—also a 2-time World XC winner—who came into this event with wins at the two previous editions of this biennial race, was content to follow along in a huge pack of nearly 50 runners during the early going as the runners battled strong winds and a brief rainstorm along this flat, lightning-fast course.
The pack passed 5K in 14:32 and 10K in 29:28. Approximately 30 runners were still in contention at 15K (44:13) as the race wound through the old city.
Kamworor asserted himself during the next kilometer, running 2:30 to string out the field. The 2-time defending champ would run an astounding (albeit wind-aided) 13:01 from 15K to 20K and finish the final 1.1K in 2:48 striding to victory down the blue-carpeted final stretch in the middle of the picturesque City of Arts & Sciences, finishing in 60:02 to take his third consecutive title.
Burundi’s Abraham Cheroben—who closed in an impressive 13:14 from 15K to 20K— claimed silver in 60:22, while Eritrea’s Aron Kifle edged out Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer for bronze 60:31– 60:33.
Sam Chelanga led the American contingent, finishing 14th in 1:01:23 after running in the lead pack at 15K.
“I thought it would go fast, but it was quite slow through 15K,” said Liberty’s former NCAA cross country champ. “It was the fastest race I’ve ever seen for the last 5K.”
While the men’s was a pedestrian affair during the early going, overall World Record holder Joycilline Jepkosgei (1:04:52 in a mixed-sex race) ignored the windy conditions and pushed the pace from the gun passing 5K in 15:39 and 10K in 31:38.
Gudeta, however, hammered the 15th kilometer (passed in 47:30) to open some daylight over the Kenyan star, a lead she would only extend over the later stages of the race.
The Ethiopian closed the 5K from 15K in 15:23 (passing 20K in 62:53, faster than Lornah Kiplagat’s women’s-only WR of 62:57, an en route time from ’07) to claim victory in a women’s-only WR 66:11 (old record: Kiplagat’s 66:25).
“The race went according to plan,” said Gudeta. “I was only thinking about the gold medal.”
Jepkosgei had to battle countrywoman Kamulu for silver, with Jepkosgei only pulling away over the final kilometer to finish 2 seconds ahead in 66:54.
Emma Bates led the under-strength American team (Jordan Hasay, Natosha Rogers, and Sara Hall all withdrew late due to injuries) finishing 27th in a PR 71:45.
Ethiopia swept the team titles, totaling 3:02:14 for their top three men and 3:22.27 for the women. The US men claimed 7th with a team time of 3:07:38, while the women finished 9th with an aggregate of 3:39:11.