If today were slightly over three years ago, the world would marvel as Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie would have just smashed Zersenay Tadese’s long-standing world record of 58:23 by 12 seconds.
Kandie ran an impressive 58:11 to win the 2022 Valencia half marathon as he led three other runners to finish in less than 59 minutes. The women’s race was similarly remarkable, with Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen running a stunning 1:05:41 to win the race that had six runners running under 67 minutes.
Klosterhalfen, who Irish great Sonia O’Sullivan currently coaches, was the greatest surprise of the day as she made an incredible half marathon debut that now makes her the second fastest German runner in history over the distance.
Kenya’s Purity Komen led the earlier stage of the women’s race before a pack closed her gap just before crossing the 10Km point in 31:08.
Three women passed the 15km point in 46:46. They were Klosterhalfen (Koko), Kenya’s Ages Wambua, and Ethiopia’s Tsigie Gebreselama. Hawi Feysa was slightly behind and beginning to drop back.
As they approached the 20km point, an exciting battle unfolded between Koko ad Gebreselama with Koko making attempts to break away and the latter refusing to let a gap develop between them. At 20km, Koko was just 2 seconds ahead as she timed 1:02:16 for the split.
It was not until she was within the last 100m of the race that Koko finally managed a smile as she crossed the finish line in an impressive 1:05:41, five seconds ahead of Gebreselama. Hawi Feysa, who had overtaken Wambua, came to finish third and probably wished she had pushed a little bit harder to go under 66 minutes as she crossed the finish line at 1:06:00.
The men’s race had unfolded differently. After the leading pack went through the 10km in 27:50, Kandie seemed to have suddenly realized that he was already behind the world record schedule and suddenly started to sprint away from the rest. He was already 10 seconds ahead as he crossed 15km in 41:17. A combined and concerted effort by the chasing pack of Kennedy Kimutai, Yomif Kejelcha, and Daniel Mateiko could do nothing to lessen the gap that, instead, kept stretching.
In the end, they all came in a single file. Kejelcha finished second in 58:32 ahead of Mateiko, who ran 58:40. Tadese Worku overtook Kimutai and settled for fourth place in another sub-59-minute time of 58:47.