Cheptegei broke the 15-year-old record, previously held by Kenenisa Bekele, by more than six seconds.
Joshua Cheptegei has only raced four times in 2020, but he has made each opportunity count by breaking three world records. His latest performance broke a 15-year-old world record in the men’s 10,000 meters.
In a race organized by his training group, NN Running Team, the Ugandan distance runner ran 26:11.00 at the NN Valencia World Record Day in Valencia, Spain on Wednesday night. Cheptegei’s performance broke the previous world record of 26:17.53 set by Kenenisa Bekele in 2005.
“[The world record] means something great to me,” Cheptegei told race organizers. “We are trying to write history because we want people to know that track is still exciting and we want to give it all.”
For this record attempt, the runners used Wavelight technology, a new innovation that uses colored lighting set up along the inside rail of the track to enable athletes to target a specific pace. Pacers Matt Ramsden and Nicolas Kimeli guided Cheptegei through 1600 meters in 4:12, 3,000 meters in 7:52, and 5,000 meters in 13:07. Around 5,200 meters, Kimeli stepped off the track, leaving the remaining 4,800 meters up to the 2019 10,000-meter world champion.
Running alone for the second half of the race, Cheptegei stayed within range of the record while a small crowd of spectators in face masks cheered on the sidelines. With 12 laps to go, Cheptegei accelerated into consistent 62-second splits for each lap, indicating the world record was within range.
At the bell, Cheptegei mustered all of his remaining energy into the homestretch where he drove his arms for one final push into the finish, splitting 60 seconds for the last 400 meters. In 26 minutes and 11 seconds flat, the 24-year-old ran his way into history once again with a 37-second personal best.
Prior to breaking the 10,000-meter world record, Cheptegei broke the world record in the 5,000 meters at the Monaco Diamond League meet on August 14. Before the race cancellations caused by the coronavirus outbreak, Cheptegei broke the world record in the road 5K at the Monaco Run 5K on February 16. On December 1, 2019, he shattered the road 10K world record by winning the 10K Valencia Trinidad Alfonso in 26:38.
In a year filled with upheaval and uncertainty as a result of the global pandemic, Cheptegei said he hoped the performance could provide a bright spot.
“We live in a difficult situation now with COVID, but this event can still give us joy and still give us howpe for tomorrow, knowing that we need to take precautions to defeat the virus,” Cheptegei told race organizers.
Before Cheptegei broke the men’s 10,000-meter world record, Letesenbet Gidey shattered the world record in the women’s 5,000 meters. The Ethiopian distance-running star ran 14:06.62, improving on the previous world record by almost five seconds.