Kenyan Beatrice Chebet breaks 5km world record in Barcelona

World champion Beatrice Chebet ended her year on a high by running 14:13 to smash the women’s world 5km record at the Cursa dels Nassos, a World Athletics Label road race, in Barcelona on Sunday, Dec 31, 2023.

The Kenyan 23-year-old improved on the previous women-only world record of 14:29 set by Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi in Herzogenaurach on 12 September 2021, while her performance is also faster than the women’s world record set in a mixed race of 14:19, achieved by Ethiopia’s Ejegayehu Taye at the 2021 Cursa dels Nassos.

Taye finished second behind Chebet on this occasion, clocking 14:21, while Kenya’s Lilian Kasait Rengeruk was third in 14:26 as the top three – all 5km medallists at the World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga 23 in October – dipped under the previous women-only world record mark. Uganda’s Joy Cheptoyek was also inside that mark, finishing fourth in 14:28.

Ethiopia’s 18-year-old Medina Eisa was fifth in 14:40 – the fastest ever women’s 5km by an U20 athlete.

The men’s race was won by Switzerland’s Dominic Lobalu who clocked 13:12, six seconds clear of runner-up Mathew Kipkoech Kipruto of Kenya.

Held under ideal weather conditions (15ºC and a very slight wind), the women’s event was paced by Kassie Wubrist Aschal, another 18-year-old Ethiopian athlete who recently set a 14:41 PB in Lille. She was closely followed by the quintet of Chebet, Taye, Rengeruk, Eisa and Cheptoyek.

The opening kilometre was a swift and promising 2:49, well on schedule to challenge the world record. That pace continued over the second kilometre as the group went through the 2km mark in 5:38, but Wubrist left her pacing duties just 100m later.

While Eisa began to lose ground before half way, the rhythm at the helm in the absence of the pacemaker dropped dangerously as Chebet, Rengeruk and Taye reached the 3km point in 8:38 for a 3:00 split, while Cheptoyek ran a couple of seconds behind the Riga medallists.

Over the penultimate kilometre, Taye moved to the front to share the lead with Chebet – who won world cross country gold in Bathurst and world 5000m bronze in Budapest prior to her world 5km title in Riga – as they both took turns in their attempt to hit record pace.

The trio clocked 11:36 as they hit the 4km mark after another relatively slow 2:58 split but Rengeruk could not maintain that speed and the race became a thrilling battle between Chebet and Taye.

Yet that clash was short-lived as after negotiating a narrow bend some 500m from the finish, Chebet found another gear. She picked up the pace and opened a sizeable gap on Taye in a matter of a few metres. The clock read 12:51 with 500m remaining, which suggested a world record was more than feasible for Chebet – holder of a 14:05.92 lifetime best on the track, set when securing world bronze in Budapest.

Chebet’s closing metres were terrific, as she extended her advantage on world record-holder Taye to finally reach the finish line unopposed in 14:13. Taye was second in 14:21, the world 10,000m bronze medallist wearing the bib number one courtesy of her previous wins in Barcelona in 2021 and 2022.

Rengeruk completed the podium in a lifetime best of 14:26, finishing ahead of Cheptoyek whose 14:28 bettered the Ugandan record of 14:50 she set in Riga where she placed sixth.

The youngest Ethiopians, Eisa and the pacemaker Wubrist who continued on to finish the race, came fifth and sixth in 14:50 and 15:04, respectively. Britain’s Katie Snowden was seventh on her 5km debut in 15:23, while Spain’s Esther Guerrero ran 15:45 in eighth.

“I came to Barcelona determined to better the world record as I felt capable of that,” said Chebet. “This world record means a lot for me, I can’t believe it.”

The men’s event held earlier was won by Lobalu in 13:12 ahead of Kipruto (13:18) and Spain’s Abdessamad Oukhelfen (13:27).

The men’s event held earlier was won by Lobalu in 13:12 ahead of Kipruto (13:18) and Spain’s Abdessamad Oukhelfen (13:27). Lobalu’s performance equals the European record set by Jimmy Gressier of France in Monaco in March.

Leading results

1. Beatrice Chebet (KEN) 14:13
2. Ejegayehu Taye (ETH) 14:21
3. Lilian Kasait Rengeruk (KEN) 14:26
4. Joy Cheptoyek (UGA) 14:28
5. Medina Eisa (ETH) 14:40

1. Dominic Lobalu (SUI) 13:12
2. Mathew Kipkoech Kipruto (KEN) 13:18
3. Abdessamad Oukhelfen (ESP) 13:27
4. Mohamed Abdilaahi (GER) 13:32
5. Flavien Szot (FRA) 13:37

Source: World Athletics

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