Kejelcha goes No.3 all-time

Edwin  - CEO March 16, 2024
Updated 2024/03/16 at 11:35 PM
5 Min Read
Yomif Kejelcha wins the 10km in Laredo (© Organisers)/World Athletics
Yomif Kejelcha wins the 10km in Laredo (© Organisers)/World Athletics

With a 26:37 10km win in Laredo, Spain


Yomif Kejelcha on his way to winning the mile at the Millrose Games (© Kirby Lee)/World Athletics


World indoor mile record-holder Yomif Kejelcha stormed to a 26:37 10km win in the northern Spanish town of Laredo on Saturday (16), World Athletics reports.


With that performance at the World Athletics Label event, the Ethiopian 26-year-old achieved the third-fastest men’s 10km of all time. Only Rhonex Kipruto, with his world record of 26:24 set in Valencia four years ago, and Berihu Aregawi, with his 26:33 run in Laredo last year, have gone faster.


Racing under ideal weather conditions on a 15ºC windless afternoon, Kejelcha was perfectly paced by his fellow Ethiopian, Addisu Yihune, the reigning world U20 5000m champion. They went through the opening kilometers at a steady 2:38 pace, the tempo needed to attack the world’s best.


Meanwhile, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei traveled a few meters behind in the company of his pacemaker, his compatriot Naman Kipyeko. Still, the world 5000m and 10,000m record-holder began losing ground six minutes into the race. By the third kilometer, Kejelcha became a virtual victor as he had built a seven-second gap on the Ugandan, with 7:54 and 8:01 their respective times.


Despite being well on schedule to challenge the world record, Kejelcha overtook Yihune before reaching the fourth kilometer, and from then on, it was a solo run by the two-time world indoor 3000m champion, who went through halfway in a promising 13:10. Cheptegei ran nine seconds in arrears in the company of Yihune.


Over the second half, Kejelcha maintained a frantic rhythm in the 2:38/2:40 per kilometer range to increase his advantage over Cheptegei.


Over the closing two kilometers, Kejelcha could not maintain the pace alone. Despite his colossal effort, he romped home 13 seconds shy of the coveted mark and four seconds off the Ethiopian record. As for Cheptegei, the 27-year-old finished in 26:53, his third-quickest time and 15 seconds slower than the then-world record of 26:38 he set in Valencia in December 2019.


Surprisingly, the 20-year-old pacemaker Yihune completed the race in a massive lifetime best of 27:28.


“I came to Laredo to break the world record, but it was impossible,” said Kejelcha. “I felt discomfort in my hip around the eighth kilometer and could not maintain my speed.”


As for Cheptegei, the Olympic 5000m champion confirmed his main goal was to get the Olympic 10,000m standard of 27:00. He expressed his happiness at having reached that target two weeks before he competed at the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade.


Klosterhalfen prevails

Held alongside the men’s race, the women’s event featured Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen as the favorite. Three weeks ago, the European 5000m champion dropped out during her last race, the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, and was trying to bounce back in Laredo. Her main target was to get the qualifying time for the 10,000m at the Paris Olympics (30:40).


Running in a group alongside male athletes, the 27-year-old started briskly. It covered the opening kilometers at a tempo of around 3:00 per kilometer to reach halfway at 15:07, which was well on schedule for her target. Kenya’s Purity Gitonga finished second, five seconds back, and Spanish 3000m steeplechase record-holder Irene Sanchez-Escribano was third in 15:32.


In the second half of the race, all the leading contenders slowed their speed as Klosterhalfen began to falter dramatically inside the closing kilometer. That saw her lose any chance of achieving the entry standard for Paris, but she still achieved a PB of 31:07.


Gitonga finished runner-up in 31:24, and Sanchez-Escribano ran a massive lifetime best of 31:35 for third.


Emeterio Valiente for World Athletics


Leading results

1 Konstanze Klosterhalfen (GER) 31:07
2 Purity Gitonga (KEN) 31:24
3 Irene Sanchez-Escribano (ESP) 31:35
4 Federica del Buono (ITA) 31:41
5 Sheila Jeruto (KEN) 31:47


1 Yomif Kejelcha (ETH) 26:37
2 Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) 26:53
3 Addisu Yihune (ETH) 27:28
4 Hillary Chepkwony (KEN) 27:43
5 Eduardo Menacho (ESP) 28:24


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