World record holders clash in Half Marathon Championships

Jepchirchir’s performance is the more recent of the two

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The World Athletics Half Marathon Championships Gdynia 2020 women’s race will feature two world record holders for the first time when Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir and Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh clash on Saturday.

From 2013 onwards there have been separate world records in women’s roads events – one for women-only races, and one for mixed races. And this year both half marathon records have been broken with Yeshaneh clocking 1:04:31 at the Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon in February and Kenya’s Jepchirchir running 1:05:34 in a women-only race at the Prague 21.1K in September.

Jepchirchir’s performance is the more recent of the two, so there is little doubt over the 27-year-old’s form heading into Gdynia. She is also a past winner of the title, having won gold in Cardiff in 2016, and she went on to set a short-lived world record of 1:05:06 in Ras Al Khaimah in 2017.

She gave birth to daughter Natalia at the end of 2017 and therefore missed most of 2018, but she returned to form last year with victories at the Lisbon Half Marathon (1:06:54) and Saitama Marathon (2:23:50).

Yeshaneh, however, is a formidable opponent and she’ll be lifted by the memories of their one previous clash, at the 2016 Delhi Half Marathon, where she finished three places and 36 seconds ahead of Jepchirchir.

Yeshaneh finished ninth in the 10,000m at the 2013 World Championships and 14th in the 5000m at the 2016 Olympic Games before devoting most of her time to road running.

She has finished in the top two in 10 of her past 12 half marathons and has impressed over the full marathon distance, placing second in Chicago last year in a PB of 2:20:51.

Her final outing before heading to Poland was Ethiopia’s 15km trial race, in which she finished fourth. Knowing that she only needed to finish in the top six, though, she could well have been doing just enough to secure her spot on the team, wanting to stay fresh for Gdynia.

Saturday’s race isn’t just about the two world record-holders, though. Netsanet Kebede Gudeta and Joyciline Jepkosgei, the gold and silver medallists from 2018 – and, incidentally, the previous world record-holders of the two women’s half marathon marks – will also line up in Gdynia.

In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo

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