Istanbul race promised fast times due to red-hot line up and it delivered despite damp conditions

Ruth Chepngetich took almost half a minute off the women’s world half-marathon record in Istanbul on Sunday (April 4).

The Kenyan, who won the world marathon title in the heat and humidity of Doha in 2019, clocked 64:02 for the 13.1-mile distance as she smashed the 64:31 mark held by Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia.

The 26-year-old is certainly familiar with the roads of Istanbul. She has now won the city’s half-marathon three times and in 2018 she ran 2:18:35 to win the Istanbul Marathon.

Yeshaneh’s world record was set at the RAK Half in February last year. That race was called off this year due to the coronavirus, which effectively meant many of the leading entrants competed in Istanbul instead.

Racing less than 24 hours after Beth Potter ran the fastest ever 5km on the roads at the Podium 5km in Lancashire, Chepngetich drew away from a strong field in Istanbul in damp and cool conditions.

The event featured a mass participation field and also inline skaters and saw the runners tackling the distance on the banks of the Bosphorus on a wet morning in Turkey.

Not only was Chepngetich’s time a world record, too, but it was quicker than the fastest-ever half-marathon set on the roads – the 64:28 by Brigid Kosgei on a Great North Run course that is disallowed for record purposes.

Runner-up Yalemrzew Yehualaf clocked 64:40 to go No.3 on the world all-time lists while Hellen Obiri, the world cross-country champion, clocked 64:51 on her debut, making this the first time three women had broken the 65-minute barrier in the same race.

Joan Chelimo Melly was fourth in 65:09 and world marathon record-holder Kosgei fifth in 66:01 as the top seven broke 67 minutes.

The eagerly-anticipated men’s race head to head between Kibiwott Kandie beats Geoffrey Kamworor, meanwhile, saw Kandie take the win by three seconds in 59:35 as he gradually drew away from his rival in the closing stages.

The runners were well outside Kandie’s men’s world record of 57:32 but Kandie’s time was a course record and the top five men broke the one-hour mark.

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