Today, Kenyan athletes confirmed their status in the world of endurance running at the 2023 Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia. Both the men’s and the women’s podium from the half marathon event were swept by Kenyan athletes.
Dominant 1-2-3 By Kenyan Women
Women’s race favorite, Peres Jepchirchir came into the race hoping to confirm her dominance among the greats by doing what few have ever done and winning a third World Half-Marathon title.
Jepchichi reflected on her win: “I wanted to win three times and make history, and thank God I have made it. It was my birthday this week and I told my husband I would work extra hard to get the win.”
The reigning Olympic Marathon Champion crossed the line in 1:07:25 to secure her third title. Followed closely by her compatriot Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, who landed second after completing the course in 1:07:26. Catherine Reline Amanang’ole completed the Kenyan 1-2-3 with a time of 1:07:34.
“I am so happy for team Kenya,” said Jepchirchir. “I knew we would sweep this as a team because I trust my colleagues so much.”
A slow start to the race meant a large group of 22 was together through 5k. The four Kenyan runners put pressure on the pace until, by the 15k mark, there were only five runners left. Of the five runners left, Tsigie Gebreselama of Ethiopia was the only non-Kenyan.
After running a patient race and with the odds in her favor, Jepchirchir made a decisive move around the 20k mark. A surge that immediately dropped her compatriot Irene Jepchumba Kimais soon proved fruitful, when the Ethiopian Tsigie Gebreselama couldn’t match the pace.
Jepchirchir tactfully sitting in her teammate’s slipstream unleashed her renowned finishing kick with 400m to go, securing the win.
Kenyan Men Double Up Podium Sweep
The men of Kenya followed the women’s sweep with one of their own and left no doubt to the world who dominates the world of the half marathon.
The Kenyan 1-2-3 was led by Sabastian Kimaru Sawe, who ran the best time of the day at 59:10. His compatriot Daniel Simiyu Ebenyo was close behind and finished in 59:14. To round out the podium, Samwel Nyamai Mailu of Kenya clocked a time of 59:19.
With no clear favorite, the race opened up with a more relaxed first 5k, passing in 14:31. With the next two splits heating up passing 10k in 14:04 and 15k in 14:02, the group was down to 13 runners.
At the 16k mark, Ebenyo launched an attack, with only one runner to follow. Passing the 20k mark, his effort was reeled back in by teammate Sawe. After catching his teammate and entering the final kilometer, Sawe had full confidence and his eyes on the win.
“I always have confidence in the last kilometer. After approaching him (Ebenyo), I saw he wasn’t pushing much and I had enough strength and after that, I never stopped.”
After the race, Ebenyo shared he was happy with his silver medal and how the team pushed each other.