Bernard Koech has run the fastest half-marathon ever recorded on U.S. soil.
There’s just one problem: He did so on Sunday, June 3, at the San Diego Rock ’n’ Roll Half-Marathon, where the elevation drop from start to finish exceeds record standards set by the IAAF.
That means Koech’s time of 58:41 won’t count as a new U.S. area record, though the Kenyan athlete did set a new area mark for 10 miles, covering that distance in 44:47 on a part of the course that falls within the guidelines.
“I was expecting it to be a fast race," Koech said afterward, according to SuperSport. "I am in great shape. After 10K I realized I was going to run a fast time.”
After eight miles, he might also have realized that he was going to win the race. It was at roughly that point, Runner’s World reports, that the 25-year-old broke away from fellow Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge and Stephen Kibet and ran unopposed to the finish line.
Kipchoge, who won the Hamburg Marathon this past April, hung on for second, finishing in 1:00.18, while Kibet took third in 61:43.
Some 30 seconds behind Kibet was the top American finisher, Athens Olympic Marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi, a San Diego resident.
Edna Kiplagat, also of Kenya, won the women’s race with a time of 1:08:57. In the accompanying marathon, the winners were Natalia Sergeeva (Russia) in 2:35:05 and Simon Njoroge (Kenya) in 2:15:00.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg