All eyes were on Joshua Cheptegei ahead of Wednesday’s Ostrava Golden Spike meet in the Czech Republic, as the 24-year-old Ugandan was looking to break the 3,000m world record. Cheptegei ended up running to a disappointing finish, falling well short of the record, but the meet was far from uneventful, as several other athletes posted remarkable times. Among these impressive performances were runs from teenaged Brits Max Burgin and Keely Hodgkinson in the men’s and women’s 800m races and an amazing showing from Cheptegei’s compatriot Jacob Kiplimo in the 10,000m.
Cheptegei falls short
Cheptegei had an incredible 2020 season that saw him run three world records (5K, 5,000m and 10,000m) in four races. He had already raced twice in 2021 ahead of Wednesday’s meet, and he was itching to add another record to his resume, so he targeted Kenyan Daniel Komen‘s 3,000m mark of 7:20.67, which has been the time to beat for 24 years.
Before the run, Cheptegei’s agent, Jurrie van der Velden, told LetsRun.com that this record could be the toughest one Cheptegei has tried to beat, and after he finished 13 seconds behind Komen’s time on Wednesday, that appears to be true.
Cheptegei opened the race on world record pace, and he passed through the first 1,600m in 3:55. He proceeded to slow considerably in the following few laps, though, and crossed the line far off the world record.
Young Brits won both 800m races. Hodgkinson’s win wasn’t too much of a surprise, as she has had a tremendous season so far. The 18-year-old opened her season in Austria in January with a U20 indoor 800m world record of 1:59.03 (which American Athing Mu lowered a month later with a 1:58.40 run in Arkansas), and she followed that up with a win in the women’s 800m at the European Indoor Championships. On Wednesday, she broke two minutes for the first time outdoors, winning the women’s race in Ostrava in 1:58.89, which is a new U20 European record.
The men’s 800m was the first race of the season for Burgin, but he ran extremely well and took the win in 1:44.14. Like Hodgkinson, Burgin (who turns 19 on Thursday) now owns the U20 European 800m record, and his result in the Czech Republic is a new world-leading time for 2021. Both Hodginson’s and Burgin’s times are under the Olympic 800m standards.
Kiplimo crushes the 10,000m
With all of the attention on Cheptegei, Kiplimo managed to fly under the radar until his race. Then, lining up in the men’s 10,000m, the 20-year-old flew away from the rest of the field, and 25 laps later, he stopped the clock in 26:33.93. This is a new world-leading time, it crushed the second-place finisher (who crossed the line in 27:07.49) and it shattered Kiplimo’s previous PB of 27:26.68 by close to a full minute. Before the race, Kiplimo said he was hoping to break 27 minutes, and he accomplished this goal with ease. His result now puts him at seventh-best in history at the distance.