Beatrice Chepkoech took apart one of the best women's steeplechase fields ever assembled, chopping more than eight seconds off the world record to run 8:44.33 at Friday's Diamond League in Monaco.
The race was expected to be quick with six of the top eight women in history lining up for what was expected to be the season's best chance to run fast. A time under 9 minutes seemed inevitable, but Ruth Jebet's 8:52.78 seemed like a reach. Chepkoech blew that theory out of the water.
After an opening 1000m split of 2:55, Chepkoech broke free of the pack. Her lead increased gradually until it was clear that nobody would be able to give chase and that world record was under threat. The second kilometer passed in 2:54, Chepkoech now only needed to stay upright to get the record.
She hit the bell at 7:37, about 100 meters ahead of second place. The only question remaining was what the new record would be. She crossed the line in 8:44.33, an exponential leap forward in the event.
"I was thinking maybe I can break 8:50 but not at all was I dreaming about 8.44. And this time still could be improved I'm sure," Chepkoech said. "It is great feeling I brought back to Kenya the steeple women record, I'm very proud of it."
Behind Chepkoech, and out of sight of the cameras, Courtney Frerichs was running the fastest race of her life. She broke free of the rest of the loaded field and crossed the line in second place defeating Emma Coburn for the first time in her career and besting Coburn's American record with a time of 9:00.35. Coburn took fourth place in 9:05.06.
"That race was incredible! 8 seconds under the WR, it's such a huge step for the event," Frerichs said. "I have to give so much credit to Emma for making this event what it is now in America. Who knows what's coming next."
Watch Chepkoech's momentous world record and Frerichs' American record:
There were no records in the men’s steeplechase, but it was the quickest race of the year. Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco ran 7:58.15 to move to ninth best all-time in the event.
Evan Jager just missed breaking eight minutes, clocking an 8:01.02. The time is the second fastest of Jager’s career. After an opening kilometer of 2:36, the pace was prime for the type of quick time that Jager wanted.
When the pacer stepped off the track, only El Bakkali, Jager, and Conseslus Kipruto remained. Jager led the trio before Kipruto fell off the pace. Entering the final lap, El Bakkali went to the front and opened a gap on Jager. As the victory slipped away, sub-eight minutes still looked possible. But Jager didn’t quite have enough and fell just outside his target. Kipruto took third in 8:09.78.
"I'm not satisfied. I wanted to break eight minutes," Jager said. "I felt I'm in 7:55 shape."
Amos Returns To The Top, Semenya Remains Untouchable
The quick times kept coming in the mid-distance races. Without a rabbit, Caster Semenya ran a wire-to-wire 1:54.60. It's her second-best time ever and the sixth-fastest mark of all time. It’s also the second time in past month when Semenya has run 1:54 sans pacers.
She hit the 400m mark in 55.76, ahead of world record pace and well clear of the rest of the runners in the field.
Semenya ran just under 30 seconds for the next 200m, as her gap shrank. But she was too far ahead to feel any sort of pressure.
Behind her, there was a compelling race playing out. Francine Niyonsaba needed a late-race comeback to get past Natoya Goule. Niyonsaba ran 1:55.96, while Goule set the Jamaican record of 1:56.15. Ajee Wilson took fourth place in 1:56.45 while fellow American Raevyn Rogers placed seventh in a personal best of 1:57.69.
Watch Semenya run the sixth-fastest 800m all-time and Goule set the Jamaican record:
After an opening 400m of 48.97 by the pacer in the men’s 800m, it seemed inevitable that the group behind him would fall apart. The pace was scheduled to be fast (49.6), but not this quick. Yet somehow, Nijel Amos was able to hold on and race to a victory in 1:42.14.
The time wasn’t a personal best for Amos, but it is his the second-fastest run of his life and a throwback performance for the 2012 Olympic silver medalist.
Behind Amos, the rest of the field got dragged to quick times and three national records fell. Brandon McBride set the Canadian record in second place, running 1:43.20. Behind him, Saul Ordonez placed third in 1:43.65, placing third and taking down the Spanish record. Farther down the results, Joseph Deng was seventh and set the Australian record of 1:44.21
Watch Amos return to form and blast a 1:42.14:
The men’s 1500m went to script at the front with Timothy Cheruiyot pouring it on late in the race to win in a personal best and world-lead of 3:28.41. This is the fifth Diamond League win of the year for Cheruiyot. Elijah Manangoi ran 3:29.64 to cross the line in second.
After that, things got interesting.
The Ingebrigtsen brothers, Filip and Jakob both ran personal bests to finish third and fourth. Filip’s time of 3:30.01 is a Norweigan national record and Jakob’s 3:31.18 bettered his own world record for the 17-year-old age group. Matthew Centrowitz placed seventh in a season best of 3:31.77.
"It was great to do a PB of 3:31. I was hoping to do maybe 3:35, but it is astonishing to do this on the back of World U20 Championships," Ingebrigtsen said.
Watch Cheruiyot lead Manangoi and two Ingebrigtsen brothers to phenomenal performances:
Miller-Uibo, Lyles Move Up The All-Time Lists
All of her races this season hinted that Shaunae Miller-Uibo was ready for something quick in the 400m. Her times in the shorter distances were promising and there were plenty of reasons to think that on a fast track and with some good competition, she could erase her personal best of 49.44.
She got both on Friday.
Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser gave chase all the way around the track, pushing Miller-Uibo to a Diamond League record of 48.97. That is the fastest time since 2009, and makes Miller-Uibo the tenth fastest woman of all-time. Despite the quick run, Naser was able to stick with Miller-Uibo, yielding no ground in the final 400 meters. Naser’s time of 49.08 is a massive lifetime best and puts her 13th on the all-time list.
Watch Miller-Uibo become the first woman since 2009 to go sub-49 over 400m:
As expected, he didn’t receive much competition. Lyles was ahead off the curve and his margin only grew in the final 50 meters. He now owns the three of the four fastest times of the year. Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev took second in 19.99.
Watch Lyles crush the 200m world lead with a 19.65: