Kenya's Abraham Kiptum is the new World half Marathon record holder.
The Daegu Marathon champion on Sunday shattered the long-standing record held by Eritrean Zersenay Tadese after clocking 58:18 to win the Valencia half Marathon on Sunday.
Tadese’s World Half Marathon record of 58:23 set in Lisbon on March 21, 2010, had stood for nine years before Kiptum, who won Daegu Marathon in 2:06:29 in April, shaved off four seconds from the time on Sunday.
Kiptum, who had earlier ran a personal best of 59:09 when he finished second at Copenhagen Half Marathon on September 16 this year, edged out Ethiopians Jemal Yimer and Abadi Hadis to second and third respectively.
The race was so fast that Yimer and Hadis returned personal beast times 58:33 and 58:44 respectively.
Interestingly, when Kiptum, 29, was finishing second with a personal best in Copenhagen, compatriot Eliud Kipchoge was breaking the World Marathon record in Berlin in 2:01:39.
The last Kenyan to have held the World Half Marathon record before Kiptum’s exploits on Sunday was the late 2008 Beijing Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru.
Wanjiru had won at The Hague Half Marathon in a new world record time of 58:33 before the trail-blazing Tadese broke it in Lisbon.
Kiptum’s road to the World Half Marathon record started when he won the Lagos Marathon in 2:16:19 on February 6, 2016 before returning a time of 1:01:52 to win Madrid Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on April 24 the same year in Spain.
A month later, the 29-year-old from Nandi County would win the Casablanca Half Marathon in Morocco in 1:01:26 before finishing fifth at Copenhagen Half Marathon clocking 59:36 on September 18 the same year.
Come 2017, Kiptum started the season with a fifth place finish in 10,000m at the Mumias Athletics Kenya Meeting in April before finishing seventh at Dongying Yellow River Marathon in China in May. He would defend his Lagos Marathon in September before finishing third at Amsterdam Marathon in October in a personal best of 2:05:26.
In July this year, Kiptum survived a near-fatal accident to win the second edition of Kabarak University Half Marathon in Nakuru County in 1:02:12 and warmed up to the World Half Marathon record with victory at the Safaricom 10km in Iten.
Kenya’s Edith Chelimo finished third in women’s race in 1:06:18, losing the battle to Ethiopian Gelete Burka in 1:06:11. Pauline Korikwiang was fourth in 1:06:31.
The Valencia course seems to be a happy hunting ground for Kenyans. Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei holds the women’s World Half Marathon record of 1:04:51 set from the same course on October 22, 2017.
Kenyans now holds all the men and women’s half and full marathon records what with Mary Keitany having set women’s only World Marathon record of 2:17:01 on April 23 last year in London.