Kenya’s ‘man of all surfaces’ Geoffrey Kamworor won US$30,000 (Sh3 million) in just one hour but missed an extra US$50,000 (Sh5 million) by three minutes after claiming a rare hat-trick of World Half Marathon titles in Valencia, Spain on Saturday.
Kamworor became the second man in history to win the IAAF World Half Marathon title three times on the bounce when he clocked 1:00:02 in the event’s 23rd edition in the Spanish city. Unlike in the women’s race, the record books were not revised by the men at the event where IAAF was rewarding Sh3 million (US$30,000) for a win and a US$50,000 bonus (Sh5 million) to any athlete who surpasses a world record.
The men’s ratified world record is 58:23 set by Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea set in Lisbon, Portugal in 2010. The 26-year-old also perpetuated his habit of winning a world title every year since 2014, alternating between World Cross-Country and the World Half Marathon.
A sluggish early pace as the runners faced strong headwind hampered efforts of breaking the sub one-hour clock but it will be remembered how Kamworor scorched a 13:01 split between 15km and 20km to rip apart a very classy field.
The first 5km were passed in a leisurely 14:31 with Japan’s Kenta Murayama and Spain’s Ayad Lamdassem leading a huge pack of almost 70 runners. Little changed over the next five kilometres ran in windy open. The pace slowed to 29:28 at 10km with around 30 runners huddled in front.
Over the next five kilometres, the buildings around the course and the change of direction afforded the runners some protection as Kamworor started to feature more prominently at the head of the race.
A number of protagonists such as Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer, Abraham Cheroben and Kenya’s Leonard Barsoton moved to the fore bracing for a wild finish while other highly-regarded runners like Eritrea’s Aron Kifle and Switzerland’s Julien Wanders were making sure they were able to see what was happening in front of them.