Kibiwott Kandie and Joyciline Jepkosgei, both previous world record holders, clinched victories for Kenya at the Edreams Mitja Zurich Marato Barcelona, better known as Mitja Marato Barceolna, a prestigious World Athletics Gold Label road race, this Sunday.
In conditions ideal for racing, with temperatures around 10°C and calm winds, Kandie, renowned as the second fastest man ever over the distance, emerged victorious in the men's race with a time of 59:22, following a close contest with fellow Kenyan, Roncer Konga. Jepkosgei shattered the women's course record by eight seconds, recording a time of 1:04:29. This impressive performance propelled her to the sixth position on the global all-time list.
The men's race unfolded with a group of contenders, including Kandie and his countrymen, along with notable Ethiopians and a Swedish debutant, Andreas Almgren, keeping close together in the initial kilometers. As the race progressed, Konga made a bold move, gaining a lead that would eventually be challenged by Kandie. In the final stages, Kandie surged ahead, capturing the win with Konga and Almgren completing the podium, the latter setting a new national record.
The women's race, particularly after the withdrawal of 2019 world marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich, evolved into a competitive duel between Jepkosgei and Ethiopia's Senberi Teferi, with Kenya's Gladys Chepkirui also in the mix initially. The leading women set a brisk pace from the start, with Jepkosgei and Teferi breaking away by the 10km mark, establishing a significant lead that they maintained throughout the race.
A decisive moment occurred around the 18km point when Teferi could no longer match Jepkosgei's pace, allowing Jepkosgei to extend her lead and ultimately break the course record with a time of 1:04:29, also beating her personal best set at this race the previous year. Teferi finished in a strong second place, setting a personal best of 1:04:40, making her the tenth fastest woman in history over the distance.
Jepkosgei expressed her determination to win after finishing second in the previous year, highlighting the course record and her personal best as additional achievements. Kandie shared his strategic approach to the race, choosing to conserve energy for a strong finish, which ultimately led to his victory.
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