Jepchirchir turns attention to Valencia after Poland heroics

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020 00:00 |
Peres Jepchirchir wins the women’s race of the 2020 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, in October 17, 2020. Photo/AFP

After a sterling performance in the 24th edition of the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships  in Gdynia, Poland, Peres Jepchirchir has now shifted her focus to the Valencia Marathon slated for December 6.

In what was a thrilling sprint finish, Jepchirchir defeated Germany’s Melat Yisak Kejeta and Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw to regain her World title from 2016 in a new women’s only world record of 1:05:16.

The Ethiopian born Kejeta clocked a new German record of 1:05:18 to win the silver while Yehualaw clocked a massive personal best of 1:05:18 to win the bronze.

It was the fastest women’s half marathon race of all time as the top six women finished inside 66 minutes and the top nine finished inside 67 minutes.

In the team event, Ethiopia produced the best cumulative time with 3:16:39, smashing the championship record.

Kenya took team silver with 3:18:10, while Germany took bronze with 3:28:42.

Jepchirchir smashed Netsanet Gudeta’s previous record of 1:06:11 set at the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia.

“My season is not yet complete. “I still have the Valencia Marathon in December so I’ll prepare for that.

I think this win gave me a lot. I’d like to run 2:17 or 2:18 for the marathon,’’ said Jepchirchir.

Jepchirchir, who failed to defend her title in 2018 after taking a maternity break, improved her own women’s only half marathon world record by 18 seconds.

Oval course

It was only six weeks ago that Jepchirchir set a new women’s only half marathon world record when she won the Prague Half Marathon in 1:05:34 on September 5 in the Czech capital.

The 27-year-old clocked 1:05:34 over 16.5 laps of Letna Park’s oval course to obliterate Netsanet Gudeta’s previous best mark of 1:06:11, set at the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships.

This was Jepchirchir’s second world record over the distance. She clocked 1:05:06 in a mixed gender race in Ras Al Khaimah in 2017, a record which stood for just under two months. 

She made a return to the Kenyan national team after blowing away a star-studded field to win her maiden world title at the 2016 World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff.

The Valencia Marathon organisers have selected a strong team that comprises Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese (2:02:48)  who is the third fastest man in the distance behind Eliud Kipchoge and fellow countryman Kenenisa Bekele.

In the women’s category, Kenya’s New York Marathon champion Joyciline Jepkosgei will be joined by compatriots Peres Jepchirchir, Joan Chelimo and debutante Fancy Chemutai.

The women’s race will also have a strong Ethiopian presence including Azmera Abreha, Ruti Aga, Birhane Dibaba, Mare Dibaba, Tigist Girma and Zeinaba Yimer. All the women have run the 42km race under 2:20.

Boston and Chicago marathon champion Lawrence Cherono will lead the 2020 Valencia Marathon assault in the men’s category. 

Cherono will take on Ethiopians Birhanu Legese and Kinde Atanaw, the current record holder for the Valencian course.

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