Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich ran away from a loaded field at the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon on Sunday to win the ninth edition of the IAAF Gold Label road race in 1:06:06, the fastest half marathon ever recorded in Japan.
The Kenyan, who won this year’s Dubai Marathon in 2:17:08, took 98 seconds off the previous course record set by world record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei in 2017.
Chepngetich set out fast and by 5km (15:10), the lead pack consisted of just three Kenyan runners – Chepngetich, Joan Melly Chelimo and Evaline Chirchir.
But Chirchir and then Melly were dropped before Chepngetich reached 10km in 30:45. She continued to push the pace, passing 15km in 46:44 and 20km in 1:02:41, winning comfortably in 1:06:05.
Melly Chelimo was nearly two minutes behind with 1:08:01 and Chirchir was third in 1:08:07, improving her PB by more than four minutes. World marathon champion Rose Chelimo was never a factor and finished seventh with 1:12:58.
In contrast to the women’s race, a large lead pack formed during the early stages of the men’s race as 10 men were together at 5km (14:18).
When course record-holder Kenya’s Bedan Karoki started to push the pace 20 minutes into the race, the lead pack reduced immediately to five men.
The leader’s pace soon slackened and Japanese half marathon record-holder Yuta Shitara joined them in front.
Seven runners were in the lead pack at 10km (28:42), then Nicholas Kosimbei made a bid to break away about 37 minutes into the race, and only Karoki and fellow Kenyan Amos Kurgat were able to cover the move.
When Kurgat started to push the pace three minutes later, only Karoki went with him. But soon even Karoki was slowly drifting backwards.
Kurgat’s two-second advantage at 15km (43:05) grew to 30 seconds by 20km (57:29) and he crossed the line in a PB of 1:00:34.
It was his second consecutive half marathon victory and PB, following his 1:01:06 run at the Japanese Corporate team Half Marathon Championships in February. Karoki, the 2014 champion, finished second in 1:01:07.
1 Amos Kurgat (KEN) 1:00:34
2 Bedan Karoki (KEN) 1:01:07
3 Abraham Kipyatich (KEN) 1:01:30
4 Silas Kingori (KEN) 1:01:31
5 Yuta Shitara (JPN) 1:01:36
6 Nicholas Kosimbei (KEN) 1:01:43
7 Jonathan Ndiku (KEN) 1:01:55
8 Ezekiel Chebotibin (KEN) 1:02:29
1 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 1:06:06
2 Joan Melly Chelimo (KEN) 1:08:01
3 Evaline Chirchir (KEN) 1:08:07
4 Mimi Belete (BRN) 1:08:16
5 Gotytom Gebreslase (ETH) 1:10:16
6 Miyuki Uehara (JPN) 1:11:03
7 Rose Chelimo (BRN) 1:12:58
8 Ana Dulce Felix (POR) 1:14:14.
In partnership with ANA and Mediapix