Joshua Cheptegei and Letesenbet Gidey's historic runs at the NN Valencia World Record Day


NNValenciaWRDay-344.jpgLetsenbet Gidey and Joshua Cheptegai, enjoying their world records, photo by Dan Vernon Photography

This is piece on NN Valencia World Record Day, by Justin Lagat.

As a longtime fan of running, which almost comes automatically from being born a Kenyan, I have been watching world record attempts for many years now. At some point, I could not help but wonder whether some of the world records have already reached a peak where they will never ever be broken again in the future. But, after their amazing runs at the Turia Stadium in Valencia, Joshua Cheptegei and Letesenbet Gidey changed my thinking; that world records are indeed meant to be broken!
NNValenciaWRDay-225.jpgAt the start of the 10,000m, photo by Dan Vernon Photography

For some years now, whenever people mentioned new world records, there were two records that always seemed unattainable, and which had stood for such a long time. Kenenisa Bekele's 5,000m and 10,000m world records which he set in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
NNValenciaWRDay-254.jpgJoshua Cheptegai was midway, photo by Dan Vernon Photography

It has been a very special year for Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei, so far. Early in the year before the world was closed by the coronavirus, he set a new world record for the 5K on the roads in Monaco. Then, in his first track race of the year in August, he set a new world record for the 5000m. Before we had enough time to absorb what he had done, he was back in Valencia again in less than 2 months to attempt another of the seemingly impossible to break world records; the men's 10,000m world record.
NNValenciaWRDay-276.jpgNicholas Kemeli leads Joshua Cheptegai, photo by Dan Vernon Photography
Shortly after crossing the 5000m in 13:07.8 with Nicholas Kimeli, Cheptegei was left alone to work on smashing the world record. But, he looked calm, patient and composed as he let the wave lights guide him.

The second half of the race ended up being slightly faster as Cheptegei crossed the finish line in a new world record of 26:11.00.
NNValenciaWRDay-315.jpgJoshua Cheptegai, after his 10,000m World record, photo by Dan Vernon Photography
However, the first world record of the evening was from Gidey who also smashed another one of the long-standing world records; the women's 5000m set by Tirunesh Dibaba in 2008. Gidey's performance may have boosted Cheptegei's confidence as he was then aware that the conditions were good for setting a world record.
NNValenciaWRDay-174.jpgLining up at the 5000m, photo by Dan Vernon Photography

The women's 3000m steeplechase world record holder, Beatrice Chepkoech took Gidey up to the 3000m point in 8:31.85. From there, Gidey stayed slightly ahead of the wave lights and maintained a steady run. Unlike Cheptegei's almost even pace, Gidey's splits kept getting slightly faster towards the end until she crossed the finish line in the new world record of 14:06.62.
NNValenciaWRDay-196.jpgBeatrice Chepkoech leads Letesenbet Gidey, 5000m, photo by Dan Vernon Photography

The NN World Record Day ended up as a huge success given that the world records that were planned to be broken, were broken. I wonder if we shall get to see another world record day where all records planned are broken.

NNValenciaWRDay-344.jpgLetesenbet Gidey and Joshue Cheptegai, photo by Dan Vernon Photography

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