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Joshua Cheptegei world 10,000m record

It's been a smashing year for records!

Alan Newman reviews a year of sublime performances

There simply has never been a year like it for world records. A total of 16 global marks were set in 2020 by 14 athletes – including Colleen Quigley, Elise Cranny, Karissa Schweizer and Shelby Houlihan of the Nike/Bowerman Track Club, who ran the 4x1500m relay in 16:27.02 at Jesuit High School Track, Portland, USA in July.

The remaining 10 athletes annexed 15 world records, only three of which were in field events. The astonishing Armand Duplantis was just 20 when he soared over 6.17m and then 6.18m indoors in the pole vault – the latter mark in Glasgow – before raising the outdoor best to 6.15m in Rome (there is only one outright record for pole vault). The other field event record was the women's indoor triple jump, set by Yulima Rojas (15.43m). 

Meanwhile, eight supremely talented athletes were ripping up the records on the road and track at distances from 5K to 21,330m. Did we say 21,330m? Yes, that odd number was the distance Sir Mo Farah covered in an hour on the track at Brussels in September to improve Haile Gebrselassie's 13-year-old record by 45 metres. Sifan Hassan (Netherlands) ran 18,930m for the women's record on the same day.

Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda) is this reporter's athlete of the year for setting new standards for 5000m (12:35.36) and 10,000m (26:11.00) on the track after racing 5K on the road in 12:51. The men's 10K road race record fell to Kenyan Rhone Kipruto (26:24) as road and track times continue to merge. Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia) ran 14:06.62 for a women's 5000m record in Valencia in October on the same day that Cheptegei raised the bar in the men's 5000m – the first time both men's and women's 5000m records have been broken at the same event 

However, it is at the immensely popular half marathon distance that the most remarkable performances were recorded. In chronological order, Ababel Yesnaheh (Ethiopia) ran 1:04:31 in a mixed-gender race in February; Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya) weighed in with 1:05:34 in September and then 1:05:16 for World Championship gold in October for women only records.

Finally, distance running aficionados are still trying to get their heads around the men's elite half marathon in the world record city of Valencia this month. The official World Athletics record shows that Kibiwott Kandie (Kenya) slashed 29 seconds off Geoffrey Kamworor's 58:01 from last year. Yet Kandie (57:32) led three other men under the former record – believed to be the first time in history that four athletes have beaten a single athletics record in the same event – full story here

It's been a smashing year for records!

Image: NN Running Team on Twitter

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