Kibiwott Kandie became the first man in history to run under 58 minutes for the half marathon on Sunday as the game-changing impact of new shoe technology on athletics was once again emphasised in Valencia.
The 24-year-old Kenyan’s time of 57:32 knocked 29 seconds off the previous record of 58:01 set by Geoffrey Kamworor last year – while three men also dipped under the old best. “To break the record by 30 seconds is a very great achievement and I’m glad to make Kenya very happy,” said Kandie.
Intriguingly while most of the distance records have been set in Nike shoes in months, Kandie was wearing the new Adidas Adizero Adios Pro shoes, which contain 39mm foam as well as five tuned carbon-infused ‘energy’ rods that mimic the metatarsal bones of the foot.
The 24-year-old who finished second at the World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, in October, made his intentions clear from the start with the leaders covering the opening five kilometres in 13:37 and 10 kilometres in 27:25.
Kandie began to push the pace in the 14th kilometre, bringing the leaders through 15 kilometres in 41:10, with fellow Kenyan Rhonex Kipruto and Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda, the reigning world champion over the distance, on his shoulder.
Over the next five kilometres Kandie and Kiplimo took turns with the lead until the 21st kilometre when Kandie made his decisive move. Kiplimo was second in 57:37 with Kipruto third in 57:49. Kenyan Alexander Mutiso was fourth, clocking 57:59.
Incredibly, it was the third world record set in Valencia in the past two months. In October Joshua Cheptegei and Letesenbet Gidey broke the men’s 10,000m and the women’s 5,000m, both wearing Nike ZoomX Dragonfly spikes, which contain a carbon plate and a unique foam, and have been billed as the “fastest shoes ever”.
Meanwhile in Brussels in September, Mo Farah and Hasan Sifan also broke the men’s and women’s one-hour records, wearing Nike shoes. While many in the sport are uncomfortable with such technology, they have been approved by World Athletics.
Genzebe Dibaba won the women’s race in Valencia in 1:05:18, the fastest ever debut over the distance.
More records could well tumble after World Athletics announced on Sunday that it had rowed back on rules banning prototypes from competition at the request of shoe companies. However chief executive Jon Ridgeon downplayed the prospects of another technology arms race. “We are confident that this amendment will not impact the integrity of competition,” he added.