Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei and Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey broke decade-old world records in distance track races, using new light-pacing technology at a special event in Valencia, Spain, on Wednesday.
Cheptegei, the 10,000m world champion, broke his second Kenenisa Bekele world record this season, clocking 26 minutes, 11.00 seconds in the 10,000m. Bekele’s previous world record from 2005 was 26:17.53.
Cheptegei began with three pacers and ran the final 12 laps alone.
“I fulfilled my dream,” said Cheptegei, who was raised at mile-plus-high altitude and credited genes from his father, who grew up on a farm and sprinted after cattle thieves.
Back on Aug. 14, Cheptegei lowered Bekele’s 5000m world record by two seconds to 12:35.36 in Monaco.
Gidey, the world 10,000m silver medalist, took 4.5 seconds off countrywoman Tirunesh Dibaba‘s 12-year-old 5000m world record. She crossed in 14:06.62 after shedding two pacers and covering the last five laps by herself.
“This is a long-time dream,” said the 23-year-old Gidey, who was briefly expelled from school for refusing to run in physical education classes.
Cheptegei and Gidey benefited from lights set up around the track showing them a world-record pace, just as Cheptegei used in Monaco.
Bekele, arguably the greatest runner ever, began 2020 as the fastest in history at 5000m and 10,000m and second-fastest at the marathon.
Now he holds neither world record, a week after withdrawing with a calf injury before the London Marathon, where he was due to challenge 26.2-mile world-record holder Eliud Kipchoge.
There is only one tartan 400m track in the entire country of Uganda.
Most of Cheptegei's track sessions take place on an uneven egg-shaped 415m grass "track" behind a school in Kapchorwa. There's about a 2-meter difference between the track's highest and lowest points. https://t.co/kAZUA832vX
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) August 14, 2020
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