Netherlands' Kiplgagat Sets Half Marathon WR


Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands continues to show her talent in the half marathon distance. This story, done by the prolific and thoughtful Bob Ramsak, for Track Profile, gives the reader a bird's eye view of what happening in Udine, Italy on Sunday, October 14, 2007.


by Bob Ramsak
(c) 2007 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved

UDINE, Italy -– In a largely solo performance, Lornah Kiplagat broke the world record for the half marathon, clocking 1:06:25 at the 2nd IAAF World Road Running Championships in Udine, Italy, today.

In retaining her title, Kiplagat shattered the previous record of 1:06:44 set by South African Elena Meyer in 1999.

“Everything just went perfect today,” Kiplagat said. “With four kilometers left, I realized that the record was possible.”

En route, the Kenyan-born Dutchwoman also broke her own world record for 20 kilometers, clocking 1:02:57, 24 seconds faster that the record she set at last year’s inaugural World Road Running Championships in Debrecen, Hungary.

The victory netted Kiplagat US $80,000 on the day, $30,000 for the victory along with a $50,000 record bonus.

“I heard from people along the course that I was on (record) pace so I kept on pushing,” said Kiplagat, 33, who also won the world cross country title in Mombasa, Kenya, last March. “And with 2k to go, I was watching the time on the lead car, and at that point I knew that I could do it. I didn’t panic and just kept the same pace.”

Kiplagat, who has represented The Netherlands since 2003, missed the World Athletics Championships in Osaka in August with a calf injury, and was aiming to make up for that disappointment here.

"I was well rested and I was so confident, because after missing Osaka I really wanted to do well in this one.”

Kiplagat has yet to decide whether she’ll defend her cross country title next year in Edinburgh.

“Right now I want to absorb the victory,” she said, “and only then think about the future. Now is the time for celebrating.”

Kenyans Mary Keitany and Pamela Chepchumba finished second and third, clocking 1:06:48 and 1:08:06 respectively. For Keitany, it was a national record.

The first seven finishers dipped under 1:09, with 12 of the top-15 recording personal bests.


Kicking from a tight four man pack in the 57th minute, Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea also successfully defended his title in the men’s race.

Tadese, also the reigning world cross country champion, covered the distance in 58:59, a national and championships record, comfortably holding off Kenyan Patrick Makau Musyoki’s (59:02) homestretch rally by three seconds. Evans Cheruiyot was third (59:05) and Ethiopian Deriba Merga, who along with Tadese controlled much of the race’s tempo, was fourth (59:16).

Taking advantage of the near ideal conditions and fast course, the race was swift from the outset.

The lead quartet set the tone from the gun, leading a pack of eight through the five kilometre marker in 13:55 before setting off at a blazing tempo, reaching 10 kilometres in 27:35 to leave the now strung-out group of would-be challengers some 10 seconds adrift. Clearly, the key players had no intention to let the race become a sluggish tactical affair.

With less than a kilometre to go, Tadese injected a surge that would prove insurmountable, thrilling the crowd of 200 or so Eritrean fans who lined the finish straight.

With his victory, Tadese joined not only the event’s still-exclusive sub-59 minute club, but also all-time great Paul Tergat as the only repeat winner of these championships, taking into account the World Half Marathon Championships, which began in 1992. And faster times, and perhaps even an assault on the World record, are not out of the question.

“Maybe I’ll try for the World record soon,” Tadese said, before understating, “I’m certainly in that shape.”

Making his first appearance in a Kenyan team vest was world record holder Samuel Wanjiru, but the 20-year-old phenom struggled throughout. Running with a knee injury, the fast initial pace took its toll early on. A distant eighth and 18 seconds behind at 10km, he eventually crossed the line 51st, clocking 1:03:31. He's already made a Monday morning appointment with his physician.

In a deep finish, the first seven finishers dipped under 60 minutes, with an additional 10 stopping to clock in under 1:01:00. Dieudonne Disi, sixth in 59:32, set a new Rwandan national record while Marilson Dos Santos of Brazil clocked a 59:33 South American record. For the latter, it was a performance that bodes particularly well as his wraps up his preparation to defend his title at next month’s ING New York City Marathon.


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