(Reuters) – Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei broke the world half marathon record as well as the 10km and 15km marks at the Prague Half Marathon on the way to winning the IAAF Gold Label Road Race in one hour, four minutes and 52 seconds on Saturday.
The 23-year-old, who was competing in just her fifth half marathon, clocked splits of 30:05 and 45:37 to improve the 10km and 15km world records.
“I didn’t know I would break the world record today,” said Jepkosgei, whose previous best time was 1:06:08 in this year’s Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon.
“I only wanted to improve my time. This is a surprise for me. The conditions were good for me because I’m used to training at this time of day, in the morning.”
Defending champion Violah Jepchumba of Kenya finished second in 65:22, with Fancy Chemutai third.
Jepkosgei was pushed to her limits by Jepchumba as the pair were separated by one second at the 10km mark, both well inside the previous record of 30:21 set by Paula Radcliffe in 2003.
However, Jepkosgei began pulling away from Jepchumba as her lead grew to three seconds at 15km and she crossed the line with 64:52 on the clock to shave 14 seconds from the world half-marathon record set this year by compatriot Peres Jepchirchir.
Ethiopia’s Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist Tamirat Tola won the men’s race in 59:37. Kenyans Josphat Tanui and Geoffrey Yegon were second and third.
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)