Ethiopian smashes 64-minute barrier with 63:43 in Northern Ireland as Aleksandr Sorokin takes down Yiannis Kouros’ long-standing 24-hour world record in Poland

Yalemzerf Yehualaw took 19 seconds off Ruth Chepngetich’s world record for the women’s half-marathon in Larne, Northern Ireland, on Sunday (Aug 29).

Racing in the Antrim Coast Half-Marathon, the 22-year-old Ethiopian clocked 63:43 to beat the Kenyan’s 64:02 mark.

“It’s a dream come true,” she said, “and something I’ve worked for my whole life.”

Yehualaw did not make the Olympic team after finishing fourth in the Ethiopian 10,000m trial race in Hengelo this summer in 30:20.77.

She had already shown great ability on the roads, though, as she took bronze at the World Half-Marathon Championships in Gdynia last year in 65:19.

Her 2020 season ended with an even faster time over 13.1 miles, too, when she clocked 64:46 at the New Delhi Half-Marathon.

In April this year she posted another fast half-marathon with 64:40 behind Chepngetich’s world record run in Istanbul. “I was frustrated not to get the record in Istanbul but I am extremely happy now,” she said on Sunday.

At the Antrim Coast event Yehualaw sat behind pacemakers Mo Ali and Roy Hoornweg and passed 5km in 15:05, 10km in 30:22 and 15km in 45:24 before surging clear on her own in the latter stages to stun the distance running world.

Yalemzerf Yehualaw

She only turned 22 earlier this month and made her international running debut as recently as 2019.

Kenya’s Vane Nyaboke was runner-up in 69:44 with Britain’s Rose Harvey third in 70:28.

Among the spectators was Mo Farah, who won the race in 2020 but was forced to sit the 2021 event out due to injury. The multiple Olympic champion was helping the commentary team as he is friends with race organiser and former 800m international James McIlroy.

Jemal Yimer of Ethiopia won the men’s race in 60:31 as he fought off a challenge from fellow Ethiopian Tesfahun Akalnew and Kenya’s Shadrack Kimining.

Marc Scott was with the leaders until the latter stages and held on strongly to run a PB of 60:34 in fourth. For the Briton it was slightly faster than he ran in 2020 when he finished runner-up to Farah.

Yimer has a PB of 58:32 but did not get close to that and complained a little about the windy conditions, which makes Yehualaw’s performance in the women’s race even more remarkable.

Sorokin breaks Kouros’ 24-hour mark

Aleksandr Sorokin of Lithuania has beaten the world 24-hour mark held by the legendary Yiannis Kouros of Greece.

Racing at the Ultra Park 24-Hour event on a 1.72km loop in Pabianice, Poland, on August 28-29, the Lithuanian ultra-runner covered 309.400km (192.252 miles).

Kouros’s record was previously considered an ‘unbeatable’ mark, but Sorokin added almost 6km to it. The Lithuanian runner was wearing Nike Next% shoes but has also been able to focus on training more during the pandemic as he was furloughed from his job as a casino courier.


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What’s more, the runner-up on Sunday, Andrzej Tkachuk of the Ukraine, also appears to have broken Kouros’ record.

Kouros’ world record of 303.3km (188.68 miles) had stood since October 1997 when he achieved the performance in Adelaide. Some believe it is – or rather was – the most impressive ultra-distance running record in the books.

The Greek runner set that mark on a track but also ran 290.221km (180.335 miles) for 24 hours in a road event in 1998.

In April this year Sorokin set world records for 100 miles (11:14:56) and 12 hours (170.309km) at the Centurion Running Track 100-Mile race in England.

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