(24-Oct) -- In her half-marathon debut today at the Medio Maratón Valencia Trinidad Alfonso EDP in Valencia, world 5000m and 10,000m record holder Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia obliterated the world record for a mixed-gender race, running an astonishing 1:02:52. Her mark broke the ratified World Athletics record of 1:04:31 by another Ethiopian, Ababel Yeshaneh, by 1 minute and 39 seconds, and the pending record of 1:04:02 by Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich by 70 seconds.
,font color=gray>PHOTO: Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia sets a pending world half-marathon record in Valencia: 1:02:52 (photo courtesy of the NN Running Team; used with permission)
"I'm so happy to break the world record in my first half-marathon and my first race for the NN Running Team!" Gidey said through a statement provided by her sponsor. "Gracias Valencia."
Gidey, 23, recorded official splits of 15:00 (5 km), 29:45 (10 km), 44:29 (15 km), and 59:46 (20 km). She averaged under 2:59 per kilometer. Essentially, she ran back-to-back 10-K's of 29:45 and 30:01 then held on for the last 1097.5 meters to become the first woman to break 63 minutes for the distance. Her time would have broken the men's world record as recently as 1976.
Remarkably, second place Yalemzerf Yehualaw, another Ethiopian, also smashed the ratified and pending records, clocking 1:03:51. Late last week Yehualaw was informed that her pending world record of 1:03:44 set in Larne, Northern Ireland, last August would not be ratified because the course was 54 meters short. Although she handily broke the world record today, she finished a minute behind the winner.
Since the introduction of "super shoes" which use space-age elastomers and carbon plates or rods in a thick midsole up to 40 millimeters to give athletes more energy return with each stride, the all-time lists for road running have been completely rewritten. For example, the top-12 women's half-marathon times in history have been runs since 2017 when super shoes began to be introduced as prototypes, and all of the top-7 times have been run since 2019 when the shoes came into wide use. Athletes are still learning how to use the new shoes in both training and racing and further improvements through adaptation are likely.
The men's race in Valencia was also fast, but there was no world record. Kenyans Abel Kipchumba and Rhonex Kipruto clocked 58:07 and 58:09, respectively.
Gidey's mark must go through the usual World Athletics ratification procedures to make sure that the course was the proper distance (21.0975 kilometers), that the course was run as certified, and that the timing system recorded the correct time. Gidey must also pass a standard drug test.