Kibiwott Kandie of Kenya broke the world record for the half-marathon this Sunday in the Valencia Half-Marathon with a winning time of 57:32.
He broke the previous world record of 28:01, set by Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya in 2019, by almost 30 seconds.
The race went out very fast, with the leaders going through the first 10 kilometers in 27:25, quickly separating a small lead group from the rest of the pack. Kandie made a strong move with a little over 3k left, stringing out the small crop of runners that remained in contention.
Despite the blazing time from the Kenyan, Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda stayed stride for stride with Kandie until about 400 meters to go, when Kandie found another gear to bring home the victory. Kimplimo finished five seconds behind him in a time of 57:37.
Kandie broke down his strategy in those closing moments at a press conference following the race, telling reporters: “[Kiplimo] catches me. I say okay let him go for one meter so I can recover for the kick.”
Four athletes in total finished under the previous world record time. Along with Kandie and Kiplimo, Rhonex Kipruto(57:49) and Alexander Mutiso(57:59) achieved the feat, making this one of the most historic half marathons in the history of the event.
Kandie had his sights set on holding a world record for quite some time. “At the start of this year I dreamt of having a record, and I didn’t know if it would be for the half-marathon or 10 kilometers. But I said I have to break a record this year” he said when asked about the record.
This was Kandie’s third half-marathon victory as a professional. The 24 year-old’s previous personal best in the event was 58:38. He also competes regularly in 10k and 15k events on the road and on the track.
With this historic performance at the half-marathon distance, many are speculating about Kandie possibly trying his hand at the marathon, where the biggest names in distance running currently compete. When asked about this possibility though, Kandie dismissed the idea, telling reporters at the same press conference: “I cannot say I’m going for the marathon because I still want to focus on the track and, god willing, next year in 2021 the Olympics.”
On the women’s side of the Valencia half marathon, Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba took the win in a time of 1:04:18. The event also featured a full marathon. Kenya’s Evans Chebet won for the men (2:03:00), while Peres Jepchirchir, also of Kenya, won the women’s title in the event (2:17:16).