Kenyans dominate RAK Half Marathon: Chemutai misses World record by a second as Karoki wins men's race

By DENNIS OKEYO: Saturday, February 10th 2018 at 00:04 GMT +3 | Athletics
10000m runner Bedan Karoki in training session ahead of Rio Olympics 2016 at Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County on July 21, 2016.[PHOTO:DENNIS OKEYO/STANDARD]

Keittany settles for second position in women race as record holder Jepkosgei finishes fifth.

It was double triumph for Kenyans as Bedan Karoki and Fancy Chemutai took top honours in the men’s and women’s races at the 12th edition of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon yesterday morning.

Karoki, 27, powered home in 58 minutes and 42 seconds setting a new course record while Chemutai clocked 1:04.53 just a second shy of the women’s world record of 1:04:52 being held by compatriot Joyciline Jepkosgei.

Japan-based Karoki’s win was more comfortable in the men’s race as he beat the 21-year old Ethiopian Jemal Yimer by 18 seconds who was making his debut in half marathon.

By half way mark in men’s race, Karoki, Edwin Kiptoo, Joram Okombo, Alex Kibet and the Yimer formed the leading pack before Karoki made the winning move at 15km to win his second RAK victory.

Kibet finished third in 59:00 as Okombo settled for fourth place in a time of 59:06 while Moris Gachaga (59:37) was fifth.

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“I wasn’t sure of victory, but glad to successfuly defend my title and set a new course record. My focus now shifts to IAAF Half Marathon next month in Valencia,” Karoki said.

In the women’s star-studded line-up, Kenyan stars swept 1-5 positions with 23-year-old Chemutai, who announced her arrival in the road running competition last year at Valencia Half Marathon running stride for stride with Keitany.

The women’s race was historic in quality and can lay claim to being the greatest women’s half ever held.

Two women broke 65:00 in the same race for the first time, four women broke 66:00 in the same race for the first time (previous best was two), seven women broke 67:00 in the same race for the first time (previous best was six), nine women broke 68:00 in the same race for the first time (previous best was seven), and 11 women broke 69:00 in the same race for the first time (previous best was 10) as all-time marks for place were established for the 2nd- through 11th-place finishers.

Both Joyciline Jepkosgei and Fancy Chemutai had requested a fast pace, and the race did indeed go out fast, with the leaders hitting 5k in 15:13 and 10k in 30:33.

At that point, the top group was down to four women — Jepkosgei, Chemutai, Keitany, and Caroline Kipkirui, who was second at the Houston Half Marathon on January 14. The group was small for good reason: 30:33 is 64:27 pace — a full 24 seconds under the world record!

Shockingly, it was Jepkosgei, the woman who broke the WR twice last year and hadn’t lost on the roads since the 2017 RAK Half, who was the first to crack as she fell off during the 14th kilometer.

Kipkirui hung on longer, and even when she started to get dropped during the 20th kilometer, she kept the deficit to around 10 meters for several minutes before Chemutai and Keitany accelerated away.