Justin Lagat lets us savor some of the athletes that allowed us to smile in the pandemic year of 2020.
The Olympic Games were postponed, training camps were closed and many other races got canceled, but still, 2020 produced some amazing moments to remember.
Below are some of them:
1. Joshua Cheptegei’s 5km, 5,000m, and 10,000m world records
Kenenisa Bekele’s track world records of 5,000m and 10,000m had remained untouched for such a long time to an extent that some people had thought that perhaps they would never be broken again. Not only did Cheptegei manage to break the two records within two months, but more amazing is that he did it in such a challenging year.
In two well-executed, incredible and gusty runs, Cheptegei ran a time of 12:35.36 for the 5000m on 14th August in Monaco and ran 26:11.00 for the 10,000m on 7th October in Valencia.
Before the pandemic, Cheptegei had also broken the 5km world record in February by running 12:51.
2. Peres Jepchirchir’s world half marathon title and world records
The world half marathon championships happened and became a huge success despite the uncertainty of it getting done with more cases of the coronavirus infections being reported in Poland, where the championships were to be held, in days leading up to the event.
It was a great year for Jepchirchir who broke the women’s only half marathon world record twice. She did it in Prague by running 65:34 before running 65:06 again at the world championships after a stiff and exciting competition towards the end.
3. Kibiwott Kandie’s half marathon world record at the Valencia Marathon
The biggest men’s half marathon competitions this year have been between Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie and Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo.
Kiplimo had followed Kandie at the world half marathon championships in Gdynia only to overtake him in the last stages of the race to win the title.
In the half marathon race at the Valencia Marathon, Kandie was on a revenge mission. In a race that four runners went under 58 minutes for the first time in history, the battle towards the end was between the two of them. To make it more exciting, the winner was going to have the world record in addition to the win. Kandie emerged the winner after setting a new world record of 57:32.
4. The emergence of new stars in the major marathons
Shura Kitata won his first major marathon title after running 2:05:41 to win the London Marathon in October. This was after the pre-race talk of Eliud Kipchoge versus Kenenisa Bekele did not materialize as Kipchoge faded to 8th position while Bekele withdrew a few hours to the race.
Vincent Kipchumba had lost the race to Kitata by one second in a close finish, with Sisay Lemma finishing third.
Evans Chebet as well upset Lawrence Cherono at the Valencia Marathon. This was also in a close finish of 2:03:00 against 2:03:04.
5. Brigid Kosgei is still the queen of women’s marathon, but new names are coming up
At the London Marathon in October, Brigid Kosgei easily won the title after a solo run at the front to finish it is 2:18:58.
However, there were faster times ran at the Tokyo Marathon by Lornah Salpeter who won the race in 2:17:45 and Birhane Dibaba who finished second 2:18:35.
6. The Impossible Games
When fans had almost lost hope of watching the athletic competitions in 2020, the organizers of the Oslo Diamond League meeting came up with a solution to have athletes competing from their own homes without having to travel. There was a split screen where the 1500m race happened in Kenya and in Oslo at the same time.
— BAUHAUSGALAN (@BAUHAUSGALAN) August 25, 2020