Men’s and Women’s World Records Broken in Valencia

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Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei broke the men’s 10,000m world record and Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey broke the women’s 5,000m at the Valencia World Record Day in Spain on Wednesday, 7 October.

26 minutes 11.02 seconds

Cheptegei smashed the 10,000m track world record with a time of 26 minutes and 11.02 seconds. The previous world record was 26 minutes and 17.53 seconds, which was set by Kenenisa Bekele, 15 years ago in Brussels, Belgium.

24-year-old Cheptegei has already broken two other world records this year. In February, he claimed the world 5,000m road record in Monaco, then after an enforced break caused by the coronavirus, Cheptegei beat Bekele’s 16-year-old track world record time for 5,000m at 12 minutes and 35.35 seconds. It has been an incredible 12 months for Cheptegei, who also won the gold medal in the 10,000m race at last year’s World Championships in Doha.

“[The world record] means something great to me. We are trying to write history because we want people to know that track is still exciting and we want to give it all,” Cheptegei told race organisers after his win.

14 minutes 6.62 seconds

Just before Cheptegei broke the men’s 10,000m world record, Letesenbet Gidey shattered the women’s 5,000m world record at 14 minutes and 6.62 seconds.

Gidey’s time improved the world record by nearly 6 seconds of the 14 minutes and 11.15 seconds set by Tirunesh Dibaba in 2008.

The 5,000m race in Valencia, Spain, is only Gidey’s second race of 2020. Her first race this year was a runner-up finish to Hellen Obiri in the 5,000m run at the Diamond League Monaco in August.

Gidey continues the legacy of Ethiopian runners holding the fastest race times. Dibaba, who last held the world record 12 years ago, is also from Ethiopia. Dibaba went on to win gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m races at the Beijing Games in 2008.

“This is a long-time dream and I’m very happy by this competition. It is a very big [deal] for me,” said Gidey at the end of the race.

New technology for pacing

For this record attempt, runners used Wavelight technology to pace themselves. The innovation uses coloured lighting set up along the inside rail of the track to target a specific pace. It also helps to indicate where the runners are in relation to the world record.

Cheptegei had pacemakers Matt Ramsden and Nicolas Kimeli in the first half of the race, before the two stepped off the track for Cheptegei to finish the race himself.

With 12 laps to go, Cheptegei increased his speed to consistent 62-second splits, which, for spectators, meant the world record was within reach this race. Cheptegei pushed at the homestretch, splitting 60 seconds in the last 400m to break the world record.

Pacemakers Esther Gurerro and Beatrice Chepkoech were with Gidey through the first 3,000m, before stepping off the track for Gidey to run the last five laps alone. She was consistently in the running for the world record, before her last 400m push, where she finished for a 17-second personal best.


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