No, it is not the April Fools’ Day joke. Prague has truly enjoyed this Saturday, April 1, by setting World Record at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon. And not only one, but straight four! The star of the RunCzech Racing Team Joyciline Jepkosgei flew through blooming Prague in a fantastic time of 1:04:52, improving the world’s best time by 14 seconds and becoming the first woman ever to break the barrier of 65 minutes. To make it even better – the 10, 15 and 20 km split times of Joyciline are also new world records. The men’s race Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia grabbed a new personal best with 59:37.
The 23 year old Jepkosgei’s time of 1:04:52 eclipsed the recent record set by Peres Jepchirchir at RAK by a huge 14 seconds and established her as a force to be reckoned with on the roads of the Czech Republic. After setting a course record at Karlovy Vary in 2016 Joyciline returned to race in Prague where she stated at the post race press conference that she feels welcome and at home.
Carlo Capalbo, the President of the RunCzech Organizing Committee, did not hide the emotions. "When about three years ago me and Zane Branson came up with the idea of RunCzech Racing Team project, I did not even dare to dream of this moment! Above all, we wanted to develop young talents and give them a chance to feel the sense of victory. And, after years of hard work, we are finally rewarded. Thank you, Joyciline!
The winner herself did not seem to believe in what she had demonstrated in the streets of Prague. “I ran the race and I just wanted to follow my own body. Even now I’m still not sure if I have really done it. At the start I just wanted to run one hundred percent and give everything for the RunCzech Racing Team,” laughed Joyciline Jepkosgei happily.
With four World Records (which will have to be ratified) at 10K, 15K, 20K and the Half Joyciline dashed the hopes of Violah Jepchumba who improved her own personal record by almost half a minute to 1:05:22 in finishing second while the debutante Fancy Chemutai came home third in 1:06:58
Another woman who pleased with her results was the American Jordan Hasay who improved to 1:07:55 moving her to number three performer on the all time U.S. half marathon list as she prepares for the Boston Marathon in two weeks.
Although the men were overshadowed by the women today Tamirat Tola did record a new personal best of 59:37 that he hopes will gain the attention of the Ethiopian selection committee for the World Championship Marathon later this year.
He was followed to the finish line by two Kenyans in 2nd and 3rd. Josphat Tanui, another runner in the RunCzech Racing vest and running his first half marathon finished in 1:00:38 just ahead of Geoffrey Yegon in 1:00:41.
There was some concern by the American followers as the London and Rio Olympic medalist, Galen Rupp was back in 11th place in 1:01:59 and was said to being treated for a foot problem after the race.
For the Czech runners the favorites prevailed as the new RunCzech Racing Team member, Eva Vrabcova, and Jiri Homolac came home in 1:11:45 and 1:03:23 respectively. For Homolac it was a personal best but not the sub 1:03 he was hoping for after two and one half months training in Kenya. Vrabcova who will be returning for the Volkswagen Prague Marathon next month was just over one half minute over her personal best.