Geoffrey Kamworor (This photo was downloaded from the athlete’s Facebook page)

Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor has set a new world record at the 2019 Copenhagen Half Marathon.

He finished the race in 58 minutes and one second (58:01), bettering the previous world record in the half marathon by 17 seconds. The earlier record (58:18) was held by Abraham Kiptum of Kenya; it was set at the Valencia Half Marathon last year.

The new record is “ subject to the usual ratification procedure,’’ the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) noted in its statement (dated September 15, 2019) on the subject.

The Copenhagen Half Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

Kamworor is a known face in India having finished on the podium at past editions of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon and the TCS World 10k.

What makes Kamworor’s performance doubly significant is that besides breaking the world record, his participation in Copenhagen appears to have been a conscious choice over competing in the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships to be held in Doha later this month.

“ It is very emotional for me to set this record. And doing it in Copenhagen, where I won my first world title, adds something to it,” Kamworor, 26, was quoted as saying in the IAAF report. In his tweet congratulating Kamworor, fellow Kenyan and world record holder in the marathon, Eliud Kipchoge said, “ a huge congratulations to @GKamworor! So proud to see you run this world record. Great planning, preparations, teammates, coaching and management is equal to record breaking.”

According to Wikipedia, Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, hailing from the village of Chepkorio in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province, first competed abroad in 2010. He was the 2011 World Junior Cross Country Champion. He later won the World Half Marathon Championships three times in a row from 2014 to 2018 (the championships were held in 2014, 2016 and 2018). He also won the World Cross Country Championships in 2015 and 2017.

He won his first World Marathon Major – the New York City Marathon – in 2017.

Among other events, he had podium finishes at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in 2011 (00:59:31), 2013 (00:59:30) and 2014 (59:07). In 2012, he won the TCS World 10k in Bengaluru, covering the distance in 28 minutes. He also won it in 2014 (27:45) and 2018 (27:59).

Copenhagen had been the scene of the first of Kamworor’s three world half-marathon titles.

Outside of his appearances at the World Half Marathon Championships, the 2019 Copenhagen Half Marathon was Kamworor’s first 13.1-mile race since November 2014, the IAAF statement pointed out.

According to it, five other men finished inside 60 minutes at the event. Bernard Kipkorir of Kenya placed second in 59:16 followed by Ethiopia’s Berehanu Wendemu Tsegu (59:22) and Kenya’s Edwin Kiprop Kiptoo (59:27).

In the women’s race, Ethiopia’s Birhane Dibaba (2018 Tokyo Marathon champion) finished first in 1:05:57. It was a personal best (PB) for her and the second fastest time at the event after the course record (1:05:15) set by Ethiopian born Dutch athlete, Sifan Hassan last year. That had been a new European record. Evaline Chirchir of Kenya (1:06:22) placed second and Dorcas Tuitoek (1:06:36), also of Kenya, third.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)