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What was expected to be a coronation of marathon world record holder Brigid Kosgei as the half marathon queen instead turned into an introduction of a worthy counterpart as Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh stunned the Kenyan on Friday morning (Thursday night in the U.S.) at the Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon by setting a 64:31 world record.
Kosgei, running just her second race since obliterating the marathon world record by running 2:14:04 last October in Chicago, was the heavy favorite to win at RAK and lower the 64:51 record held by Joyciline Jepkosgei since 2017.
The 26-year-old achieved the second part of that goal by running 64:49 on Friday, but it was only good enough for second place as Yeshaneh dropped Kosgei between 15 and 20km.
Here are the Ethiopian’s record-breaking splits:
30:18 10k (15:11)
45:41 15k (15:23)
61:11 20k (15:30)
64:31 FINISH (3:20)
Kosgei had a three-second advantage over Yeshaneh at 15k, but the Kenyan faded minutes later as she split 15:49 between 15k and 20k, her slowest kilometer by 27 seconds.
Ironically, Yeshaneh finished runner-up behind Kosgei at the 2019 Chicago Marathon in 2:20:51, a whopping six minutes and 47 seconds behind Kosgei’s transcendent run that day. Kosgei is still the unquestioned queen of the marathon right now, but Yeshaneh’s performance at RAK suggests that the 28-year-old Ethiopian could soon become a serious challenger.