Lucy Kabuu of Kenya took advantage of ideal conditions at the RAK Half Marathon on Friday to post the second-fastest women's time in history.
Despite complaining that she had missed 10 days of training over the previous two weeks due to a cold, Kabuu clocked a time of one hour, six minutes, nine seconds over the 21.1-kilometre distance to lead a Kenyan sweep of the podium positions in the women's competition.
The only woman to have run a faster half marathon is Mary Keitany, the Kenyan who set the world record of 1:05:50 at the 2011 RAK race.
Kabuu's compatriot, Geoffrey Kipsang, led another Kenya sweep of the top three positions on the men's side with a time of 58:54.
The women started on world-record pace, 15:35 for the first five kilometres and 31:18 at 10km, then slowed slightly.
Meanwhile, the men set off cautiously (28:13 for 10km), but picked up to run a substantially quicker (27:50) second 10km.
Kipsang, the IAAF World Junior Cross Country Champion in 2011, began to surge at the 15km mark, dropping most of his pursuers, aside from Stanley Biwott and the 2010 RAK winner Geoffrey Mutai.
The resulting times were of similar calibre with both races showing unprecedented quality in the top results; the first five men dipped under the hour and, for the first time, the first three came home under 59 minutes.
The first four women went under 1:07. Priscah Jeptoo, the silver medallist in the marathon at the 2012 Olympics, finished only two seconds back of Kabuu. She not only set a personal best by more than four minutes but also became the third-fastest runner in history.
Rita Jeptoo, a further 16 seconds back, in third, slotted into fifth position on the all-time list. In fourth, Meseret Hailu, with 1:06:56, set an Ethiopian record.
Behind Kipsang's personal best, which itself was just two seconds shy of the 59:52 course record of Patrick Makau set in 2009, Biwott's 58:56 was also a personal best and Mutai, with a 58:58, also became a member of the 11-man sub-59 club with a time that shaved 32 seconds off his personal best.
The top 10 finishers on both the men's and women's side were Kenyans or Ethiopians.
It was an agreeable 13°C when the races began, at 7am, expectations were high when the starting horn sounded in Ras Al Khaimah.
Strong winds last year blew away any chance of record times.
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