Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa Debele won the women’s race.
As one of Europe’s top-tier road races, the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon has staked its claim with a legacy of fast times—including the site of the current world record of 58:23 set by Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese in 2010.
With help from a few minor course improvements, Kenya’s Bedan Karoki was able to add his name to the still exclusive sub-60-minute half marathon club. The 23-year-old world and Olympic 10,000m finalist made a great debut over the half marathon distance, winning this year’s EDP Half Marathon in 59:58 on Sunday. His victory marked the seventh year in a row that the winner has finished under 60 minutes.
During the first 5K of the race, Karoki was in some discomfort due to slight cramps in his legs and he lagged behind the leading group. But by 10K, he joined countrymen Silas Kipruto and Ezekiel Chebii, the fastest man in the field with a best of 59:05, and Eritrea’s two-time world cross country medallist, Teklemariam Medhin, at the front of the pack.
Mehdin briefly took the lead but the Kenyan trio overtook him in the final 7K of the race before having their own private battle for the top three podium positions. Chebii fell off first at 14K, and although Kipruto stayed with Karoki until just after 18K, Karoki proved he was the strongest man in the field over the final 3 three kilometers. Kipruto finbished second in 1:00:17, while Chebii was third with 1:00:50 and Medhin finished a distant fourth in 1:01:17.
The field of 32,000 runners included 25 who finished in 1:08 or faster. The top seven women, paced by Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa Debele, all ran faster than 1:10.
Debele, 23, the only Ethiopian runner in the women’s field, also added to the fast times on the day. She held off Kenya’s Jemima Jelagat to win by 2 seconds in 1:08:46, just 18 seconds off the course record set by countrywoman Aberu Kebede in 2011. Jelagat and her compatriot Flomena Chepchirchir forced the pace from the halfway point to 15K, with Degefa and Kenya’s Eunice Kirwa just behind them, but the Ethiopian kicked hard at 20K and only Jelagat could stay with her change of gear.
The EDP Lisbon Half Marathon was acquired by Competitor Group in 2011 and is operated in partnership with the Maratona Clube de Portugal. The partnership included three events: the RTP Portugal Half Marathon Vodafone (October), the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon (March), and Lisboa A Mulher e a Vida 5K EDP (May), a women’s only race that annually attracts nearly 15,000 runners. Each half marathon also includes a shorter distance Mini Marathon, which starts and finishes at the same location and allows for wider participation. All three events take place in Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal, and together combine to welcome more than 70,000 participants annually.