World Athletics Elite Label Road Race, the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K, today created history yet again with Kenya’s Daniel Simiu Ebenyo and Ethiopian Sutume Asefa Kebede smashing the event records in the men’s and women’s categories as they set up a blistering pace to finish with a timing of 1.11:13 and 1.18:47 respectively.
Incidentally, the winning timings turned out to be the “World Bests” for a stand-alone 25K race!
Although the 25K is not a listed distance for the official world records at present, the earlier world bests for the stand-alone 25K race were 1:11:18 by Dennis Kimetto (2012) and 1:19:53 by Mary Jepkosgei Keitany (2010), both from Kenya.
The event record of Tata Steel Kolkata 25K in the Men’s category stood in the name of Kenya’s Leonard Barsoton with a timing of 1:12:49 while the Women’s record was in the name of Bahrain’s Desi Jisa with a timing of 1:21:04.
With today’s win, Ebenyo and Kebede took home a winner’s cheque of $7500 plus a bonus of USD 3000 each in the US $100,000 prize money race.
Finishing behind Ebenyo, Victor Kipruto Togom (Kenya) in the second spot also bettered the previous event record with 1:12:26 followed by Ethopia’s Tesfaye Demeke (1:13:36) in the third spot.
It was a nail-biting race between the two men’s International runners Ebenyo and Togom.
The two set the pace from the word go and together went neck-to-neck.
Ebenyo, who earlier this year secured two significant silver medals from Budapest Worlds (10,000m) and the World Half-Marathon championships in Riga, led the field on most occasions clocking 43:01 after crossing 15K.
Although Togom tried to overtake him during that stage, Ebenyo did not allow it to happen and increased his pace after 19K (59:12) and broke away from Togom to run a solo race thereafter.
For information, Ebenyo’s country-mate, the legendary Eliud Kipchoge, was officially timed 1:11:08 at 25K en route to his victory in the Berlin Marathon last year where he set a world record for marathon (2:01:09).
Speaking after the win, an emotional Ebenyo said, “With God’s grace I was able to do something special here to break the course record. I thank the authorities for inviting me here. I dedicate this win to my girlfriend, whose support and encouragement helped me reach where I am today.”
Kebede pushed Yehualaw to the second spot in the women’s race
Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw (24), the half-marathon world championships bronze medalist in 2020, made her debut at 25K in Kolkata and was tipped off to win here as a pre-race prediction.
However, her teammate Sutume Asefa Kebede had other plans in her mind. Kebede, who turned 29 recently, did not have any significant victories on the global stage like Yehualaw. Kebede etched her name as a victor in the Big-25 at Berlin eight years ago clocking 1:21:55, a time regarded as one of the best at that time.
Running only on her second race at this distance, Kebede remained in the lead together with her compatriot until the waning stages of the race and applied pressure at the last kilometre to win in 1:18:47. Yehualaw (1:19:26) and Kenya’s Kenya's Betty Chepkemoi Kibet (1:21:43) finished behind her.
It was the fourth fastest time by women runners at this distance although the three women who achieved better timings before her did it en route to a marathon.
Thrilled after smashing the course record, Kebede said, “I wanted to run faster, but in the end, I am happy with my timing. It is a good course with good weather conditions which made it easier for me.”