Defending ING New York City Marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai will return to the Big Apple on November 3, and based on his performance on September 22 at Italy’s Udine Half-Marathon, he’ll challenge the course record he set in 2011.
Mutai won convincingly in Udine, posting a 59:06—the world’s fourth-fastest half-marathon time in 2013—and defeating his closest competitor, fellow Kenyan Nicholas Togom, by nearly two minutes.
Togom, who finished in 1:01:02, improved on his personal best by more than 30 seconds, but it wasn’t enough to get anywhere near Mutai, who set the pace from the start, according to the IAAF website. By the 9K mark, he’d opened up a 30-second lead over Togom, and he never looked back.
Mutai’s performance makes him just the sixth runner in history to notch three sub-60-minute half-marathons in a single season, and his time is one of the speediest ever on Italian soil. (All of the faster Italian times came at the 2007 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, held on the same Udine course.)
“I felt tired from 15K,” said Mutai, according to the IAAF. “I was aiming at breaking my personal best (58:58 set in Ras Al Khaimah this February) but I narrowly missed it. I thank the fans for their warm support along the course.”
If Mutai was slightly disappointed, his country had much to be proud of: Kenyan men swept the top five spots. Simon Ndirangu was third in 1:01:35, followed by Simon Sikuku (1:01:37) and Peter Kororia (1:02:20).
On the women’s side, Kenyans took first and second, as Goretti Jepkoech won the event in a personal-best time of 1:10:06, with Joyce Jemutai Kiplimo second in 1:10:24. Krisztina Papp of Hungary took the final podium spot in 1:11:59.
“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