Kenya is now in possession of all long-distance road-running world records, both in the full and half marathons.
And what a weekend it was for the country after Brigid Kosgei wrapped it up with an accomplishment one would never have imagined, especially from an athlete who had just done seven marathons.
Kosgei set a new women's world marathon record, smashing Briton Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old record with a time of two hours, 14 minutes and four seconds to retain her Chicago Marathon title on Sunday.
The 26-year-old’s feat ensured that Kenya sealed a double in Chicago with her trailblazing victory coming just minutes after Boston Marathon champion Lawrence Cherono claimed the men’s title in a sprint finishing, clocking 2:05:45.
Kosgei’s time erased Radcliffe's time of 2:15:25 set on April 13, 2003 in London. The time was also a course record as it clipped Radcliffe's time of 2:17:18 set in October 13, 2002. Kosgei and Cherono’s accomplishment came a day after Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge had the world firmly under his grip.
Kipchoge, who is also the world marathon record holder (2:01:39), made history as the first man to run a marathon under two hours when he completed the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in 1:59:40 on Saturday in Vienna, Austria.
Cherono, who won the Boston Marathon in April, beat Ethiopians Defene Debela and Asefa Mengstu to second and third places in 2:05:46 and 2:05:48 respectively.
Another Kenyan, Bedan Karoki, settled for fourth clocking 2:05:53. Kosgei edged out Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh by a margin of six minutes and 47 seconds. Yeshaneh clocked 2:20:51 for second place as compatriot Gelete Burka came in fourth four seconds behind in 2:20:55.
Kipchoge hold the men’s world marathon record of 2:01:39 set at the Berlin Marathon on September 16, 2018 while his training mate Geoffrey Kamworor holds the world half marathon record of 58:01 set in Copenhagen on September 15, this year.
Another Kenyan, Joyciline Jepkosgei, has the women’s world half marathon record of 1:04:51 she attained on October 22, 2017 in Valencia.
The trailblazing Kosgei went into Chicago with the seventh fastest time in history of 2:18:20 with her victory in London Marathon on April 28 this year.
Kosgei’s time in London made her the fourth fastest Kenyan after Mary Keitany, who holds the all-women world marathon of 2:17:01 from 2017 London, Ruth Chepng’etich (2:17:08-2019 Dubai) and Gladys Cherono (2:18:11-2018 Berlin).
That is all gone after Kosgei’s nerve-rattling solo performance that saw her well inside Radclife’s record from the start to the finish to win by over five minutes in Chicago.
Kosgei becomes the fourth Kenyan to have broken a world marathon record after Tegla Loroupe, two-time World marathon champion Catherine Ndereba and Keitany.
Loroupe broke the marathon twice — 1998 in Rotterdam at 2:20:47 and in the 1999 Berlin Marathon in 2:20:43.
Then Ndereba would clock 2:18:47 in 2001 in Chicago for a new world record before Keitany set a new all-women world record of 2:17:01 when winning in London on April 23, 2017, breaking Radcliffe’s time of 2:17:42 on April 17, 2005 in the same city.
Kosgei broke Radcliffe’s mixed race record of 2:15:25 set on April 13, 2003 in London.
Kosgei and Cherono’s accomplishment drew excitement from Kenyans including her husband Mathew Mitei who was watching at their home in Eldoret, All-women world record holder Mary Keitany, and former world marathon recorder holders Paul Tergat and Catherine Ndereba.
“We talked in the morning before the race and she told me that she had confidence saying something good was coming,” said Mitei.
Reported by Ayumba Ayodi, Bernard Rotich and Dennis Lubanga