2018 RAK Half Marathon: A most amazing women's half marathon!



Joyciline Jepkosgei, Caroline Kipkirui, Fancy Chemutai, Mary Keitany, photo by Victah Sailer/PhotoRun.net

This writer has just returned from Ras Al Khaimah. It was a fascinating trip. I was reminded once again just how deep the quality of womens' running is in Kenya. I was reminded how important running culture and events are around the world. I was also reminded that, when you do an event well, you can build an event and a destination around such an event.

The weather was perfect. The start was about 57 degrees, with a light breeze. The sun was coming up, and there was a bit of fog. As the elite women took off, the enormity of the field hit me. I had written some notes on Thursday evening that there could be three women under the WR, which meant sub 65 minutes.

The pace was nearly perfect, thanks to the pace makers. But, really, look at the pictures and the video highlights (posted here: https://www.runblogrun.com/2018/02/2018-rak-half-marathon-an-exciting-video-release.html), and you will see Fancy Chemutai on a mission. The pace was 15:15 for 5k, 30:34 for 10k, 46:07 for 15k as the pack went from 21 to 14 to five. Around 13k, Joyceline Jepkosgei, the WR holder, dropped off the pace, after looking strong up to that point. Caroline Chepkirui was running bravely, having done well at the Houston Half marathon, where she placed 4th on January 14, took charge on several occassions. In fact, the WR for 10 miles will be credited to Caroline Chepkirui, who lead in 49:29 at ten miles!

Chemutai_Fancy1c-RAK18.JPGFancy Chemutai, a force of nature, leading RAK, photo by PhotoRun.net

What was fascinating to moi was that Mary Keitany was focused, pumping her arms up high (with that swing, you know, watch the video!). My thoughts were, Mary Keitany is fit, and she is showing little effort, what the heck, this women is superwomen!

But Fancy Chemutai, who is about a foot taller than the rest of the field, was the real thing. This women is going to be a tough one! Her stoicism up in the lead was only better by the zen face of Mary Keitany.

At 20k, Caroline Chepkirui was starting to fall off, and one knew that Mary Keitany and Fancy Chemutai was going to be a duel. The 20k was hit in 1:01.25.

Who would move? I am not sure if Mary or Fany knew who would move first. But, both were exhausted, they had run 5ks in 15:15, 15:19, 15:34 and finally, 15:28! The final 1.1 kilometer, run in 2:57, was tremendous. Mary Keitany looked like she could win, but Fancy Chemutai moved after 21k to make the victory hers. Two of the finest women runners in the world were dueling over the final meters, and who would win? Fancy Chemutai went by at 21k, and her three second win also just missed the WR by one second!

This race was the deepest race in half marathon history, with seven women under 67 minutes!

Keitany_MaryM-RAK18.JPGMary Keitany, will she break the absolute women's WR? photo by PhotoRun.net

My belief is that if you are serious about racing on the fast half marathon course in the world, then, go to the Ras Al Khaimah course. The 35 hotels around the course are great places to relax, run the race, then, enjoy a very nice vacation and tell stories about the race, which is one of the fun parts of running!

It is my belief, after seeing Mary Keitany racing in RAK, that the women will run around 2:14:50 in London. Mary Keitany is very, scaryily fit. Yes, that is a new WR. You read it here.

I am looking forward to the 2019 race, February 8, 2018, just 361 days away from now!

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