World Half-Marathon Men — Kiplimo Springs A Surprise

It was no surprise that a Ugandan won the race; that it was Jacob Kiplimo who did it was a surprise indeed. (JEAN-PIERRE DURAND)

GDYNIA, POLAND, October 17—All eyes focused on Joshua Cheptegei as the World Championships Half-Marathon men’s race started at noon, 90 minutes after the women’s had begun. The Ugandan superstar had recently broken track World Records in the 5000 and 10,000 in a magical summer of distance superiority. This would be his debut half-marathon, but no one doubted the danger he posed to the 13.1M specialists.

As it turned out, even though the first 2-plus loops of the course were run at a tactical clip that would have seemed to play into Cheptegei’s hands—or feet, as it were—all eyes had focused on the wrong Ugandan.

Instead, it was 19-year-old Jacob Kiplimo, the yearly world 3000 leader running his second half marathon ever, who would prove to be unbeatable, taking his first World title in a meet record 58:49.

With WA head Seb Coe firing the starting gun, Kenya’s Benard Ngeno, winner of this year’s Houston Half, went for the early lead, but he wasn’t interested in doing much with it. In marked contrast to the women’s race, the men sauntered the early going, creating a massive lead pack and crowded conditions for the early miles on the sometimes narrow course.

Ngeno’s teammate Kandie Kibiwott, the world leader with a 58:38 in Prague in early September, moved to the fore after 3K, but the pace remained moribund. At 5K (14:19) there were 35 runners bunched within 3 seconds; Cheptegei cruised near the front alongside Kiplimo, looking quite comfortable.

Over the next loop, Kibiwott tested the group with a pair of surges, but each time eased off the throttle. Cheptegei led past 10K in 28:23 (a 14:04 circuit), a split the first dozen shared.

More lead changes came in the third loop, but the expected big breakaway didn’t start happening until near the end of it, when Kibiwott pressed hard. He hit 15K in 42:17 (13:54) as the pack dwindled to 11—with Cheptegei bringing up the rear.

Over the next two kilos, that pack stretched and broke. Kiplimo joined Kibiwott at the front and Cheptegei made his way to 4th behind Ethiopian Amdework Walelegn. By 17K, Kiplimo had a solid lead and Kibiwott appeared to struggle as Cheptegei moved into 3rd—boosting the narrative that he might be the first man to win World titles in track, road and cross country since Morocco’s Khalid Skah in the ’90s.

Up front, Kibiwott staged a comeback and moved back ahead of Kiplimo, but the teenager soon rallied and after a seesaw battle pulled away strongly in the final 2K.

The Cheptegei-can’t-lose thread unraveled as his teammate stretched the lead even more, passing 20K in 55:55 thanks to a stunning 13:38 circuit. Soon the track WR holder would slip back to 4th. Kiplimo unleashed his full stride on the final stretch, killing Kibiwott’s hopes and streaking to the finish with a 5-second lead. His 58:49 broke the championship record and lopped more than a minute off the Ugandan NR; it also took more than 3:00 off the 1:01:53 he had run in Kampala’s altitude 11 months ago.

Said Kiplimo, whose gold is the first medal captured by Uganda in the event’s history, “I feel great, it was my first time at the World Half Marathon Championships and I won! It is hard to explain, because I am full of emotion. Unbelievable. The weather was really good, as were the conditions and course. I’m so grateful for everyone who has supported me.”

Kibiwott held on for silver in 58:54, with Walelegn 3rd in 59:08, 13 seconds ahead of a smiling Cheptegei. “I couldn’t give more than that,” he said. “I’ve been training more for the 5000 and 10,000 so I was not well prepared for it, but I’m very happy. My body was really going very well but I discovered I still had some fatigue in my legs.”

Leonard Barsoton (6th in 59:34) and Benard Kimeli (9th in 59:42) clinched another Kenyan team win. The Kenyans scored victory No. 16 (out of 24 runnings) with a combined time of 2:58:10, topping defending champion Ethiopia’s 2:58:25 and Uganda’s 2:58:39. They were the only teams to average sub-60s.


WORLD HALF-MARATHON MEN’S RESULTS

Individuals: 1. Jacob Kiplimo (Uga) 58:49 PR, MR (16, x W); 2. Kibiwott Kandie (Ken) 58:54; 3. Amadework Walelegn (Eth) 59:08 PR; 4. Joshua Cheptegei (Uga) 59:21 PR (debut); 5. Andamlak Belihu (Eth) 59:32; 6. Leonard Barsoton (Ken) 59:34; 7. Stephen Mokoka (SA) 59:36 NR; 8. Morhad Amdouni (Fra) 59:40 NR; 9. Benard Kimeli (Ken) 59:42; 10. Leul Gebrselassie (Eth) 59:45;
11. Hailemariyam Kiros (Eth) 1:00:01 PR; 12. Hamza Sahili (Mor) 1:00:04 PR; 13. Mohamed Reda El Aaraby (Mor) 1:00:17 PR; 14. Precious Mashele (SA) 1:00:24 PR; 15. Mouhcine Outalha (Mor) 1:00:26 PR; 16. Victor Kiplangat (Uga) 1:00:29; 17. Othmane El Goumri (Mor) 60:30; 18. Jake Smith (GB) 1:00:31 PR; 19. Stephen Kissa (Uga) 1:00:34; 20. Bohdan-Ivan Horodyskyy (Ukr) 1:00:40 NR;
21. Julien Wanders (Swi) 1:00:46; 22. Guye Adola (Eth) 1:00:50; 23. Collen Mulaudzi (SA) 1:00:51 PR; 24. Aras Kaya (Tur) 1:00:51 PR; 25. Tadesse Getahon (Isr) 1:00:52 =NR; 26. Eyob Ghebrehiwet Faniel (Ita) 1:00:53; 27. Florian Carvalho (Fra) 1:00:58 PR; 28. Maru Teferi (Isr) 1:00:58; 29. Jose Santana Marin (Mex) 1:01:11 PR; 30. Juan Pacheco (Mex) 1:01:20 PR;
31. Ayad Lamdassem (Spa) 1:01:21 PR; 32. Benjamin Choquert (Fra) 1:01:32 PR; 33. Carlos Díaz (Chl) 1:01:32 NR; 34. Krystian Zalewski (Pol) 1:01:32 NR; 35. Simon Boch (Ger) 1:01:36 PR; 36. Juan Pérez (Spa) 1:01:39; 37. David Nilsson (Swe) 1:01:40 PR; 38. Hassan Toriss (Mor) 1:01:42 PR; 39. Girmaw Amare (Isr) 1:02:03 PR; 40. Samuel Barata (Por) 1:02:19 PR;
41. Tiidrek Nurme (Est) 1:02:20 NR; 42. Benard Ngeno (Ken) 1:02:26; 43. Pietro Riva (Ita) 1:02:28; 44. Stefano La Rosa (Ita) 1:02:28; 45. Nicolas Navarro (Fra) 1:02:29 PR; 46. Adel Mechaal (Spa) 1:02:30 PR; 47. Morris Munene (Ken) 1:02:30; 48. Ivan González (Col) 1:02:31 PR; 49. Daniele D’Onofrio (Ita) 1:02:32 PR; 50. Mohamud Aadan (GB) 1:02:41;
51. Tadesse Abraham (Swi) 1:02:46; 52. Hlynur Andrésson (Ice) 1:02:47 NR; 53. Mikael Ekvall (Swe) 1:02:48; 54. Kaan Kigen Özbilen (Tur) 1:02:53; 55. Emil Millán de la Oliva (Swe) 1:02:53 PR; 56. Segundo Jami (Ecu) 1:02:57 PR; 57. Abderrazak Charik (Fra) 1:02:58; 58. Kevin Seaward (Ire) 1:02:58 PR; 59. Roman Fosti (Est) 1:03:03 PR; 60. Kristian Jones (GB) 1:03:05 PR;
61. Polat Kemboi Arıkan (Tur) 1:03:10; 62. Adam Craig (GB) 1:03:12 PR; 63. Nicolae Alexandru Soare (Rom) 1:03:14 PR; 64. Tom Evans (GB) 1:03:14 PR; 65. Sezgin Ataç (Tur) 1:03:21; 66. Roman Romanenko (Ukr) 1:03:26; 67. Otmane Nait-Hammou (Mor) 1:03:28 PR; 68. Maxim Răileanu (Mol) 1:03:34 PR; 69. Saffet Elkatmış (Tur) 1:03:34 PR; 70. Hugh Armstrong (Ire) 1:03:37 PR;
71. Oleksandr Sitkovskyy (Ukr) 1:03:41 PR; 72. Jean Marie Vianney Niyomukiza (Rwa) 1:03:43; 73. Koen Naert (Bel) 1:03:44; 74. Simon Holbek Køningsfeldt (Den) 1:03:48 PR; 75. Gilmar Lopes (Bra) 1:03:51; 76. Moses Kibet (Uga) 1:03:54; 77. Joaquín Arbe (Arg) 1:03:55; 78. Luís Saraiva (Por) 1:03:56 PR; 79. Alvaro Abreu (DR) 1:03:58 PR; 80. Timon Theuer (Aut) 1:03:59;
81. Nicolás Cuestas (Uru) 1:04:00; 82. Remigijus Kančys (Lit) 1:04:00 NR; 83. Adhanom Abraha (Swe) 1:04:02; 84. Iraitz Arrospide (Spa) 1:04:07; 85. Ivan Zarco (Hon) 1:04:08 PR; 86. Ignas Brasevicius (Lit) 1:04:09 PR; 87. Thijs Nijhuis (Den) 1:04:10; 88. Christian Steinhammer (Aut) 1:04:11; 89. Luis Alberto Orta (Ven) 1:04:11; 90. Éderson Pereira (Bra) 1:04:19;
91. Yitayew Abuhay (Isr) 1:04:21 PR; 92. Ihor Olefirenko (Ukr) 1:04:22; 93. Daniel do Nascimento (Bra) 1:04:27 PR; 94. Andreas Schonberg Lommer (Den) 1:04:28; 95. Adam Nowicki (Pol) 1:04:31; 96. Jesús Arturo Esparza (Mex) 1:04:35; 97. Konstantin Wedel (Ger) 1:04:45; 98. Christian Vasconez (Ecu) 1:04:49 PR; 99. Marvin Blanco (Ven) 1:05:06 PR; 100. Amanal Petros (Ger) 1:05:22;
101. Damian Kabat (Pol) 1:05:26 PR; 102. Valdas Dopolskas (Lit) 1:05:28 PR; 103. Jorge Blanco (Spa) 1:05:31; 104. Tobias Blum (Ger) 1:05:33; 105. Jeisson Alexander Suárez (Col) 1:05:42; 106. Adam Głogowski (Pol) 1:05:50; 107. Nuno Lopes (Por) 1:06:30; 108. Fouad Idbafdil (Mor) 1:06:35 PR; 109. Byron Piedra (Ecu) 1:06:45; 110. Wan Chun Wong (HK) 1:06:58 PR;
111. Rafael Vicente Loza (Ecu) 1:08:30; 112. Oscar Antonio Aldana (ElS) 1:08:31 PR; 113. Valentin Betoudji (Cha) 1:08:46 PR; 114. Charlton Debono (Mlt) 1:08:51; 115. Stefan Azzopardi (Mlt) 1:09:18 PR; 116. Sonny Folcheri (Mon) 1:16:01 PR; 117. Ilir Këllëzi (Alb) 1:17:27;… dnf—Arnar Pétursson (Ice), Rui Pinto (Por), Napoleon Solomon (Swe), Nekagenet Crippa (Ita). (122 started, 117 finished; no U.S. entries)

Teams: 1. Kenya 2:58:10; 2. Ethiopia 2:58:25; 3. Uganda 2:58:39; 4. Morocco 3:00:47; 5. South Africa 3:00:51; 6. France 3:02:10; 7. Israel 3:03:53; 8. Spain 3:05:30; 9. Italy 3:05:49; 10. Great Britain 3:06:17;

11. Turkey 3:06:54; 12. Mexico 3:07:06; 13. Sweden 3:07:21; 14. Ukraine 3:07:47; 15. Poland 3:11:29; 16. Germany 3:11:43; 17. Denmark 3:12:26; 18. Brazil 3:12:37; 19. Portugal 3:12:45; 20. Lithuania 3:13:37; 21. Ecuador 3:14:31.

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