Stephen Kiprop, Julien Wanders and Sanbere Teferi wrote history at the 2019 RAK half marathon, A view from Kenya


The RAK Half Marathon is, year after year, an amazing race, and a great place to view the next great Ethiopian and Kenyan distance runners. This year was no different. as Stephen Kiprop and Sanbere Teferi upset a few form charts. Julian Wanders, the hot European who is training in Kenya, continues to learn lessons with his training partners.

GudetaLedsTeferi-Yimer-RAK19.jpgGudeta Leads Tefari, photo by

One of the reasons that we publish Justin is that he provides us a view into Kenya's distance running scene. We ask you to remember that when Justin provides his sometime parochial viewpoint. Justin is asked 2 things: write his view and cover the Kenyan running scene. That, Justin Lagat has done well for over six years, and we are thankful.

Stephen Kiprop, Julien Wanders and Sanbere Teferi wrote history at the 2019 RAK half marathon

Kenya's Stephen Kiprop, just 19 years old, ran a fast and tactical race to win the Ras Al Khaima half marathon in 58:42. This was the fastest time ever run by a teenager.

Kiprop_StephenFL-RAK19.JPGStephen Kiprop, photo by

It is amazing to note that this just happened less than a year after Kiprop's name was first recorded officially anywhere in race results. Kiprop seems to have been discovered when he won a local race in Kenya, the Kabarak Zane Branson Memorial 15km, on 27th February last year. Less than a year later, he now has a personal best time that ranks him in 6th position of the fastest half marathon runners in history.

Ethiopian athletes have always been known to hang on just behind the Kenyan runners, then kick harder to overtake them in the final stages of the race. The controversial 10,000m race between Kenya's Moses Tanui and Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie at the 1993 IAAF world championships in Stuttgart in which Gebrselassie had stepped on Tanui's shoe remains a memorable one. However, Kiprop gave them a dose of their own medicine when he stayed just behind Abadi Hadis only to out kick him in the last few meters of the race.

Kiprop_StephenFH-RAK19.JPGStephen Kiprop, 2019 RAK Half Marathon, photo by

Hadis had appeared to have been in control of the race as he kept whittling down the leading pack until he remained just with Kiprop. He tried desperately a number of times to move to one side of the road hoping that Kiprop would remain on the other, but Kiprop kept following and remaining right on his back. Hadis appeared to open up some gap with around 500m to go, but Kiprop never lost hope and kept fighting hard to close the gap and slowly began to succeed. With 50 meters to go, he overtook Hadis to cut the tape in a time that equaled the course record. Hadis followed closely to take second in 58:44 ahead of Fikadu Haftu in 59:08.

Wanders_JulienH1-RAK19.JPGJulian Wanders, 2019 RAK Half Marathon, ER of 59:13, photo by

Julien Wanders of Switzerland missed the podium as he arrived 4th in 59:13, but his time will perhaps remain more historic as he set a new European record for the half marathon. He broke the former record of 59:32 that was being held by Mo Farah. His move to live and train amongst the Kenyan runners in Iten, Kenya continues to propel Wanders to great heights in his running career.

Teferi_SenbereFL-RAK19.JPGSenbere Teferi, 2019 RAK Half Marathon, photo by

Three runners crossed the finish line almost together in the women's race with Senbere Teferi using her 5,000m speed to edge the rest as she cut the tape in 1:05:45 against Netsanet Gudeta's 1:05:45 and Zeineba Yimer's 1:05:46. Teferi's time was an amazing time for a debutant in the distance.

Leave a comment

Wake up to RunBlogRun's news in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter and we'll keep you informed about the Sport you love.

Subscribe to RunBlogRun's Global News Feed

* indicates required