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Rak Half Marathon

Friday February 8th, 2019
Ras Al Khaimah, AE
Distance: Half Marathon

In the preceding decade of great half marathon racing, the RAK Half Marathon, one hour north of Dubai, has built a reputation for delivering absorbing head-to-head racing and usually, lightening quick times. The 11th edition was no exception, at least, not in the sense that there was any danger of it falling below standard. Because what actually happened was that both men’s and women’s contests delivered enthralling racing, with the latter culminating in the most dazzling world record of 65:06 for Kenya’s reigning IAAF World Half Marathon champion, Peres Jepchirchir. Hers was indeed, a race for the ages.

The course will start and finish at the same place on Al Qawasim Corniche, next to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The course takes an almost immediate left turn to head towards Al Nahda Street. Runners then turn left to the Al Shuhada roundabout with a gentle curve around to bring runners on to the south side of Khuzam Road (E11) and will continue until and turn right at the Ruler’s Palace (approx. 5km) and run along Khuzam Road past the Tower Links Golf Club where they will U-turn (approx. 7.5km) and return along the north side of Khuzam Road, past the Ruler’s Palace (9km) and turn right back onto the south side of Khuzam Road (E11) past RAK Mall (approx. 10.5km). Runners will then take a right turn onto Al Muntasir Road before doubling back around the roundabout and turning left at the traffic lights onto Khuzam Road (E11) (approx. 12km). At approximately 14.5km, runners will take a right turn to get back on Al Qawasim Corniche and run all the way down the corniche, under Al Hisn Bridge (approx. 18km) and u-turn on Al Khor Road before heading back to the Finish Line with a good final sprint (we hope!)

There is a 365,000 AED ($100,000)bonus if the winner sets a world record.

2018 Race Stats from Premier Timing

Entrants: 3062
Starters: 2390
Finishers: 2352
Nationalities: 99
Youngest Entrant: 15
Oldest Entrant: 75
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Race Date: 02/09/2018 Distance: Half Marathon
Division Time Name Age Home
Male 58:42 Bedan Karoki 18 KEN
2nd Male 59:00 Jemal Yimer 23 ETH
3rd Male 59:06 Alex Kibet 27 KEN
4th Male 59:36 Jorum Lumbasi Okombo 20 KEN
Female 1:04:52 Fancy Chemutai 25 KEN
2nd Female 1:04:55 Mary Keitany 35 KEN
3rd Female 1:05:07 Caroline Kipkirui 31 KEN
4th Female 1:05:37 Joan Chelimo Melly 26 KEN
Division Time Name Age Home
M 40-49 01:16:42 Florin-Marcel Laza 45 ROU
M 50-59 1:17:23 Stephen Gichuki 56 KEN
M 60-69 1:22:47 Stephen Kamande 61 KEN
F 40-49 1:18:35 Julia Njari 40 KEN
F 50-59 1:28:45 Tia Jones 52 AUS
F 60-69 1:41:41 Elizabeth Driver 62 GBR
Rak Half Marathon
Feb 9, 2018. (From IAAF)
Fancy Chemutai narrowly missed out on breaking the world record at the RAK Half Marathon on Friday (9) on a day when both course records fell.

The sea mist that blanketed the emirate’s capital provided near perfect conditions, while record-size mass fields and enormous depth to the elite groups meant a special day was more or less guaranteed.

The much-anticipated clash between world half marathon record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei and Mary Keitany didn’t quite materialise. Jepkosgei, suffering the residual effects of a bout of flu over the past two weeks, dropped away shortly after half way and eventually fifth, albeit in a highly respectable 1:06:46.

But despite that, Keitany still wasn’t without serious opposition. Having been outsprinted by Peres Jepchirchir last year, this time it was 23-year-old Kenyan Fancy Chemutai who had the greater speed over the last 100 metres.

Perfect pacing by a trio of Kenyan men laid the foundation for an epic closing struggle. With five kilometres reached in 15:15, already the pattern for a world-record assault was set. The only surprise presence along with the ‘big three’ was that of Caroline Kipkirui, herself fresh from a PB in Houston on 14 January.

When 10 kilometres was reached in 30:34, all four still looked comfortable and ready to maintain the tempo. That Jepkosgei was the first to falter, quite suddenly, at about 13 kilometres, was quickly forgotten, as the tempo up front slackened only marginally. At 15 kilometres, reached in 46:07, the world record was very much on.

Kipkirui was the next to weaken, though not before she had nosed in front through 10 miles to set a world best of 49:29, and her final few kilometres were still sufficiently strong to remain comfortably in third.

The race came down to the contrasting figures of tiny Keitany and the long, rangy stride of the powerful Chemutai. At 20 kilometres, covered in 1:01:34, they were inseparable. Keitany momentarily looked to be the one applying the pressure, but Chemutai shrewdly delayed her surge until the final 100 metres of the race, crossing the finish line in 1:04:52 – tantalisingly just one second outside Jepkosgei’s world record set last year in Valencia.

The consolation for London Marathon-bound Keitany was yet another personal best (1:04:55). The pair now sit at second and third on the world all-time list behind Jepkosgei.

Kipkirui was further back in third in 1:05:07 – a time which one year ago would have equalled the world record, but now is ‘only’ good enough for equal fourth place on the world all-time list.

With four women finishing within 66 minutes, seven finishing within 67 minutes and 11 finishing within 69 minutes, it was the greatest depth to any women’s half marathon in history.

The men’s race, starting 15 minutes after the women, was of almost equally momentous proportions.

With 11 sub-60 minute performers on the line and a stated 10km target time of 27:50, the ambitions were not far off another world record assault. While that might remain the ambition for another day, when the large pack of 12 reached 10km in 27:48, another big performance was clearly in the offing.

It was long in to the third quarter of the race that the pack began to thin out, as prolific racer Alex Kibet pushed alongside the leaders. Just four men remained at the front as 15 kilometres was reached in 41:43, and at this sub-59-minute tempo it had become a war of attrition.

Slowly but surely, defending champion Bedan Karoki began to impose himself. At 19 kilometres he edged to the front and put in a testing surge; there was no response. He surged again and that gap grew further before eventually winning in 58:42.

His time took 10 seconds off the course record set nine years ago by Patrick Makau. It also moves the world half marathon silver medallist to fourth on the world all-time list, just 19 seconds shy of world record-holder Zersenay Tadese.

Like women's winner Chemutai, Karoki has been named on Kenya's team for next month's IAAF/Trinidad Alfonso World Half Marathon Championships Valencia 2018.

Ethiopia’s 21-year-old Jemal Yimer was the surprise of the men’s race. Having placed fourth at last year’s World Cross Country Championships and fifth over 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships London 2017, the 21-year-old underlined his excellent pedigree in what was his half marathon debut. While well beaten, Yimer’s eventual runner-up time of 59:00 is the fastest debut ever.

Kibet finished third in 59:06 in a race where the first seven men finished within 60 minutes.

Organisers for the IAAF

1 Bedan Karoki (KEN) 58:42
2 Jemal Yimer (ETH) 59:00
3 Alex Kibet (KEN) 59:06
4 Jorum Okombo (KEN) 59:36
5 Morris Gachaga (KEN) 59:36
6 Wilfred Kimitei (KEN) 59:40
7 Edwin Kiptoo (KEN) 59:54
8 Benard Kimeli (KEN) 1:00:16
9 Vincent Rono (KEN) 1:00:24
10 Lelisa Desisa (ETH) 1:00:28

1 Fancy Chemutai (KEN) 1:04:52
2 Mary Keitany (KEN) 1:04:55
3 Caroline Kipkirui (KEN) 1:05:07
4 Joan Chelimo Melly (KEN) 1:05:37
5 Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN) 1:06:46
6 Degitu Azimeraw Asires (ETH) 1:06:47
7 Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 1:06:49
8 Gladys Cherono (KEN) 1:07:13
9 Helen Tola Bekele (ETH) 1:07:47
10 Naom Jebet (KEN) 1:08:22

Copyright 2018