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Custom world-record challenges don’t always work, but at the NN Valencia World Record Day in Wednesday in Spain, it couldn’t have gone better.
Both the men’s 10,000 m and the women’s 5,000 m races resulted in world marks for new superstars Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda and Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia.
Up first was the women’s 5,000 m at 9:35 p.m. at the Estadi di Turia in Valencia, with eight runners on the start line. But all eyes were on Gidey, who was aiming for the 14:11.15 mark by countrywoman Tirunesh Dibaba at the Bislett Games in Oslo (NOR) in 2008.
Among the pacesetters was Steeple world-record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, who led the field through 2,000 m and 3,000 m, after which Gidey took over. Aided by the “new” pacing-lights system – which debuted at the old International Track Association meets of the 1970s – Gidey charged home over the final 2,000 m to finish in a stunning 14:06.62, slashing almost five seconds off of Dibaba’s time.
Gidey’s prior best had been 14:23.14 – ninth on the all-time list – in 2018, at age 20. Kenya’s Winnie Nanyondo was the only other finisher, trotting home at 15:57.16.
That brought 13 men onto the track for the 9:55 p.m. start of the men’s 10,000 m, with Cheptegei out for Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) and his 26:17.53 mark from the Van Damme Memorial in Brussels (BEL) in 2005.
Now Cheptegei, 24, had already erased one Bekele record, at 5,000 m, with his 12:35.36 mark to win the Diamond League meet in Monaco on 14 August. The Ugandan star also set the world record for 5 km on the road at 12:51 Monaco on 16 February of this year. So he’s been hot all season.
There were a bevy of pacers for this race, including 3:51 miler Matthew Ramsden (AUS), who led at the 2,000 m and 3,000 m marks before giving way to Nicolas Kimeli (KEN), who entered the race as the world leader for 2020 at 10,000 m at 26:58.97! He led at 4,000 m and then crossed 5,000 m in a speedy 13:07.73!
Then Cheptegei took over and led the rest of the way, running away from the field of eight finishers and steaming home with kms of 2:37.33, 2:36.54, 2:37.48, 2:37.27 and 2:33.75, with a final lap of 60 seconds, to finish in 26:11.00 for his third world mark of the year!
There was a real race him, too, with Kimeli finishing in a very creditable 27:12.98, followed by Shadrack Kipchirchir of the U.S. at 27:28.97, his third-fastest ever. Stephen Kissa of Uganda also went under 28:00 in fourth at 27:34.48.
This is not the last made-for-time meets this season. The folks who put on the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games in Hengelo (NED) are organizing a special meet for Saturday (10th) with the women’s 1,000 m and 10,000 m and a men’s 5,000 m. Headlining the fields is Dutch star Sifan Hassan, the reigning World Champion at 1,500 m and 10,000 m, who previously set the Hour record in Brussels on 4 September.
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon will try again for the 1,000 m mark; she ran 2:29.15 in Monaco to miss Russian Svetlana Masterkova’s 1996 mark of 2:28.98.
The men’s 5,000 m will pit Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha (PR 12:46.79 ‘18) vs. emerging Australian star Stewart McSweyn (PR 13:05.23 ‘18).