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08 October 2020, 9am

Gidey and Cheptegei smash records in Valencia

Two decade-long distance records disappear in an hour

Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei broke Kenenisa Bekele's long-standing 10000m track world record by 6.5 seconds in the Spanish city of Valencia on 7 October. His 26.11.00 performance came only 50 minutes after Letsenbet Gidey had broken fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba’s world record over 5000m with a time of 14.06.62.

Back in August Cheptegei had broken Bekele’s 5000m world record and before his attempt on the 10,000m record claimed that he had enjoyed what was possibly his best-ever build-up for a race. Pacemakers were on hand to support the attempt and guided him through 2000m in 5:15.1 and 3000m in 7:52.8. Nicolas Kimeli took the lead after eight laps and paced Cheptegei through halfway in 13:07.7 (1.5 seconds up on Bekele’s schedule).

After another kilometre Cheptegei, now paced only by the stadium ‘wave’ lighting, had slipped to just outside record pace. Rallying during the next kilometre he passed through 7km in 18:22.0, two seconds ahead of schedule. From that point on Cheptegei’s pace was relentless as he stretched his advantage over Bekele’s ghost to eight seconds at 9000m and then pressed home for a historic win against the clock.

Gidey refreshed the Ethiopian hold on the 5000m women’s world record held since 2006 by Meseret Defar (until 2008) and Tirunesh Dibaba. She was paced by Beatrice Chepkoech (3000m steeplechase world record-holder) through 3000m in 8.31.9 leaving the last five laps for Gidey to go solo, but with a seven-second cushion. She increased her advantage over Dibaba’s time to nine seconds at 4000m and drove herself home to achieve her ambition: “I have been dreaming about this for six years,” she said.

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