Clean Kenyan sweep in Denmark

What you need to know:

  • Kipsang won with a personal best time of 59min 07sec while Cherono took gold with a time of 1hr 07min 28sec.

Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor and Gladys Cheron won the men and women’s Saturday titles as Kenya dominated the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Kipsang won with a personal best time of 59min 07sec while Cherono took gold with a time of 1hr 07min 28sec.

Men’s reigning champion Zersenay Tadese had a disappointing race, coming fourth but helping secure team gold for Eritrea. “I’m very happy! I was feeling that I can run,” Kipsang told IAAF radio.

In near-perfect weather conditions, it was a fast race and 14 of the top 20 finishers set personal best times.

The women’s race was dominated by team tactics with Kenya filling the first five places. “It was nice, we ran as a team ... and I was not expecting to be number one today,” Cherono said.

After winning the World 10,000m silver medal seven months ago, Cherono tore the 21.0975km flat course to claim women’s crown, orchestrating the 1-5 sweep by the Kenyans, who also won the team title.

The 2011 World Cross Country junior champion Kamworor swept to victory, halting Tadese’s hope for his sixth title.

The 30-year-old Cherono, a Corporal at the Kenya Defence Forces, crossed the finishing line in 1:07.28, ahead of Mary Wacera Ngugi, who clocked personal best 1:07:43 as Sally Chepyego Kaptich wrapped up the podium sweep, also with a personal best 1:07:51. Lucy Kabuu was fourth in 1:08:36, ahead of Mercy Jerotich Kibarus 1:08:41.

Shift focus to Africa title

Cherono had ran personal best of 1:06:48 to win the 2013 Prague Half Marathon, a time which brought her into the top ten of all time. She now shifts her focus to defending her Africa 5,000m and 10,000m titles on August 10-14 in Marrakech, Morocco.

“I am surprised as I didn’t expect to win,” Cherono said. “But the race was great. We worked as a team.”

The five Kenyans broke away from the pack in the middle of the race before Kabuu and Kibarus wilted to let their colleagues’ to pound on. It’s Cherono who went for glory with 5kms to go.

Kipsang completed the men’s race in 59:07 seconds, beating Samuel Tsegay of Eritrea and Guye Adola of Ethiopia, who were both 13 seconds behind. However, Kenya lost the men’s team title to Eritrea for the first time since 2006.

Kipsang, Tsegay and Adola managed to shake off Tadese, before Kipsang pulled away from his two rivals in the final kilometres. “The field was very competitive. That’s why I was pushing, pushing and pushing some more,” Kipsang said.

Cherono’s rise has been steady. After winning the 5,000m and 10,000m titles at the Kenyan Armed Forces Championships in 2012, she was picked to run these events at the 2012 African Championships in Athletics.

She never disappointed when she capitalised on the absence of elite athletes to make history in becoming the first woman to win both distance races at the championships. She clocked a records breaking time of 15:40.04 for gold in 5000m.

She was not selected for the 2012 Summer Olympics and instead went on to win at the Bogotá Half Marathon. In 2013, Cherono won the Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country title before posting personal best of 1:06:48 at Prague Half Marathon.