Gritty Kandie storms to a world record
Kibiwot Kandie leading to the finish line in a 10Kilometer men race during 2020 Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country Championship at Thika Garrison, Kiambu County ahead of the National Cross Country Championships. Friday, January 24, 2020. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Half Marathon: At least 300 elite athletes took part in the 40th edition of Valencia marathon and half marathon

Uganda’s Kiplimo had beaten Kandie to win the world half marathon in October.

From Cheberen in Baringo County to a training base in Iten and to Valencia where he stunned the world yesterday, Kibiwott Kandie stamped Kenya’s authority in road races.

The 24-year-old athlete broke the world half marathon record in 57:32, chopping off a jaw-dropping 29 seconds from the previous record at the Valencia half marathon.

Geoffrey Kamworor had set the 58.01 world record time in the 21km distance in Copenhagen last year.

In Iten where Kandie has been preparing for the world record assault since October, his tactician Joseph Cheromei was heaping praise on an athlete he described as “the most disciplined.”

Cheromei had told Standard Sport that Kandie was going for the world record. Indeed, he smashed it in style.

“Kandie did not leave camp after winning silver in Gdynia. I’ m grateful I prepared for a world record pace and he delivered,” Cheromei who also trains Peres Jepchirchir who won the Valencia women’s marathon in a course record said.

He said Kandie was under intensive training that comprised a balance between speed work and endurance as well as resistance to speed.

“He (Kandie) kicked early and we corrected that tactical mistake ahead of the Valencia half marathon. I was certain of a world record,” Cheromei said. He said Kandie has been training with a team of road runners including Lawi Kosgei, Justus Kangogo,  Josphat Kemboi and Leornard Langat among others.

Despite a strong field comprising Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo, the reigning world half marathon champion and his compatriot Rhonex Kipruto, Kandie delivered a sweltering challenge to clinch the title in the flat course.

Recently in October, Kiplimo beat Kandie in a last minute kick and the opportunity for revenge (for Kandie) presented itself yesterday, and the Kenyan star did not disappointed.

He finished second in 58:54 to bag silver after losing to Kiplimo (58:49) in the close contest on October 17.

Kiplimo and Kipruto took second and third places in 57:37 and 57:49.

From the first kilometre of the Spanish race, it was apparent Kandie was on a mission to obliterate the world record, with the leaders covering the opening five kilometres in 13:37 and 10 kilometres in 27:25.

Kandie, who was running his fourth half marathon of the year, began to push the pace in the 14Km, taking the leading pack through 15km in 41:10.

Gritty Kandie storms to a world record
Kibiwott Kandie of Kenya celebrates at the podium after winning the annual “Sao Silvestre Run”, an international race through the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil December 31, 2019. [REUTERS]

In an indication of grueling, fast pace race, Kandie, Kiplimo, Kipruto and Alexander Mutiso crossed the finish line in under 58 minutes, shaving seconds off Kamworor’s record.

Kandie has run under 59 minutes in the distance in the four races he has competed in during this season including Ras Al Khaimah, Prague, and Gdynia half marathons.

He opened the year on a high, winning the National Cross-Country Championships title in February before clinching victory at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon two weeks later in 58:58.

Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia won the women’s race in one hour, five minutes 18 seconds, missing the women’s world record in a mixed race (1:04.31) currently held by Ababel Yeshaneh who set it in RAK earlier this year.

It was Dibaba’s first race in 16 months, since last August, and her debut over the half marathon distance.

In the full marathon — an equally fierce race, Evans Chebet cruised to a surprise victory, outshining race favourite Lawrence Cherono, the Boston and Chicago marathons champion.

Chebet, who was runner-up in Valencia last year ran 2:03:00 while Cherono timed 2:03:04.

Peres Jepchirchir clocked 2:17:16 to take the women’s crown in a course record as Joyciline Jepkosgei came in second in a time of 2:18:40.

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