Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey smashed the world record at the Valencia Half Marathon clocking 1:02:52 on her debut at the distance at the World Athletics Elite Label road race on Sunday .
Competing in the same Spanish city where she broke the world 5000m record last year, Gidey took 70 seconds off the previous world record of 1:04:02 set by world marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich earlier this year.
In doing so, 23-year-old Gidey becomes the first woman to officially break the 64 and 63-minute barriers. She’s also the first debutante to set a world record for the distance.
Perfectly paced by her compatriot Mebrahtu Kiros, Gidey went through the opening 5km in 15:00, well inside world record pace, with her compatriot Yalemzerf Yehualaw running five metres down.
Yehualaw, whose recent 1:03:44 clocking in Larne could not be ratified as a world record due to the course being too short, drifted further back over the next few kilometres as Gidey reached 10km in 29:45 – the third-fastest clocking in history for the distance and just seven seconds shy of the world record set just a few weeks ago by Kalkidan Gezahegne.
While Yehualaw began to lose ground shortly afterwards, Gidey maintained her relentless rhythm to cover the next 5km segment in 14:44, reaching the 15km point in 44:29, barely nine seconds slower than her own world best for the distance.
Although her pace dropped very slightly in the last quarter of the race, Gidey had done more than enough to ensure victory in a world record time. She crossed the line in 1:02:52, adding a third world record to her name to go alongside the marks she owns for 5000m (14:06.62) and 10,000m (29:01.03).
Underscoring the quality of Gidey’s performance, she crossed the finish line alongside Spain’s Javier Guerra, a 2:07:27 marathon runner.
“I knew I could run this kind of time as my training sessions in the altitude of Addis Ababa have gone very well,” said an ecstatic Gidey, the Olympic bronze medallist and world silver medallist over 10,000m. “In future I’m thinking of competing at the marathon distance but I’m not sure that will come before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games or later.”
Yehualaw finished second in 1:03:51, also inside the previous world record. Kenya’s Sheila Chepkirui bettered her lifetime best by 45 seconds to complete the podium in 1:04:54.