Athletics

Peres Jepchirchir breaks world record to regain half marathon world crown

Kenyan runner avoids last lap falls in Gdynia, Poland to eclipse her own women-only mark set last month.

By Evelyn Watta ·

Peres Jepchirchir bettered her own world record to regain her world half marathon crown in Poland on Saturday (17 October).

Four years after taking her first 21km title in Cardiff, the Kenyan stayed out of trouble on a dramatic last lap and outsprinted Germany's Melat Yisak Kejeta to take victory in fine weather conditions in Gdynia.

Her time of 1:05:16 was 18 seconds inside her previous women-only mark set seven weeks ago in Prague.

"It's unbelievable. My goal was to win this race. I did not expect that I would beat the world record, but I realised that it could happen when we passed 20km. It was a little bit windy, but the course was good for me." - Peres Jepchirchir to World Athletics

Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir celebrates victory in the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia in a women-only world record time. (Photo: World Athletics)

Former champions battle for gold

Jepchirchir and Kenyan team-mate, former mixed-gender half-marathon world record holder Jocelyne Jepkosgei, took the field along at a fast pace.

By 5km, the pair were at the head of the lead pack and well inside world record schedule.

As the leaders approached the 10km mark in 30:47, 2018 winner Netsanet Gudeta hit the ground hard as she navigated one of the sharp corners.

The Ethiopian quickly picked herself up but lost too much ground to catch up with the group.

Peres Jepchirchir (R) leads the women's elite race at the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland

Race defining fall

There was further drama as the lead group of six runners hit the 18km mark.

Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh, the current mixed-gender world-record holder, hit the front for the first time.

But her lead was short lived as she hit the ground accidentally tripping Jepkosgei in the process.

Jepchirchir, Yalemzerf Yehualaw and Germany's Melat Yisak Kejeta cautiously covered the remaining distance before the Kenyan unleashed her winning kick 30 metres from the finish line.

Kejeta, running only her second major race for her adopted country, shattered the European women-only record to take silver in 1:05:18, with Ethiopia’s Yehualaw third in 1:05:19.

Gudeta finished eighth almost two minutes behind the winner.

Women's leading results
Athlete Country Time
1.Peres Jepchirchir Kenya 1:05:16 WR (women's only)
2.Melat Yisak Kejeta Germany 1:05:18 AR
3.Yalemzerf Yehualaw Ethiopia 1:05:19 PB
4. Zeineba Yimer Ethiopia 1:05:39 PB
5.Ababel Yeshaneh Ethiopia 1:05:41
6.Joyciline Jepkosgei Kenya 1:05:58 SB
7.Yasemin Can Turkey 1:06:20 NR
8.Netsanet Gudeta Ethiopia 1:06:46 SB
9.Brillian Jepkorir Kenya 1:06:56 PB
10.Rosemary Wanjiru Kenya 1:07:10