Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie was given a heroic welcome home after breaking the Valencia Half Marathon record on Sunday.
Kandie’s homecoming to Mogotio, Baringo County was met with a rousing reception from locals, who thronged Cheberen village to celebrate.
Kandie, became the first person to break 58 minutes record in the race. He ran 57:32, breaking Geoffrey Kamworor’s previous record, which he set in 2019, by 29 seconds.
Kamworor had set the 58.01 world record time in the 21km distance in Copenhagen last year.
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.
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Recently in October, Kiplimo beat Kandie in a last-minute kick and the opportunity for revenge (for Kandie) presented itself on Sunday, and the Kenyan star did not disappoint.
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.
In an indication of gruelling, 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.