For the second year in a row at the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon, both course records were broken at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race on Saturday.
On an undulating course, Seboka was joined by Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba and Kenya’s Lucy Murigi and Linah Cheruto through 5km, reached in 16:16.
Murigi was the first to drop back, followed by Chumba, as Seboka and Cheruto passed through 10km in 32:42. The lead pair was still together at 15km, which was passed in 49:07, but Seboka made her move soon after.
The 31-year-old Ethiopian kicked ahead to win in a personal best of 1:09:11. It broke her previous official PB of 1:13:20, set in 2011, but she ran faster than that at the half-way mark when setting her marathon PB of 2:21:56 in Dubai earlier this year.
Cheruto finished second with a personal best of 70:22, taking 16 seconds off the PB she set earlier this year when winning the Madrid Half Marathon. Chumba placed third in 1:10:59, more than a minute ahead of Murigi.
In her half-marathon debut, Ireland’s two-time European cross-country champion Fionnuala Britton finished eighth in 1:13:46.
Seboka will be back in the Czech Republic for the Olomouc Half Marathon on 20 June. She is keen to impress on the roads this year in a bid to gain selection for the marathon at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015.
Tirop leads Kenyan 1-2-3-4
The pace was strong from the start in the men’s race with the lead group going through 5km in 14:18 and 10km in 28:43. By half way, they looked to be on course to take a minute off the course record of 1:01:21, set last year by Ethiopia’s Teshome Mekonen.
But the course was testing with frequent short climbs and a gentle breeze in the historic Spa town gained in strength by mid-race. By 15km, four men were in contention: Tirop and fellow Kenyans Nicholas Kipkemboi, Edwin Kiptoo and Bernard Bett.
Kiptoo was the first to falter. Tirop, growing in confidence, then increased the pressure. He broke away from the leading group with four kilometres left to achieve what he described as the best win of his career in 1:01:01.
Kipkemboi finished second in 1:01:13 and Bett was third in 1:01:22, nine seconds ahead of Kiptoo.
“I thought then it was up to me,” said Tirop. “We were running to break the event record and I felt strong.”
1 Elijah Tirop (KEN) 1:01:01
2 Nicholas Kipkemboi (KEN) 1:01:13
3 Bernard Bett (KEN) 1:01:22
4 Edwin Kiptoo (KEN) 1:01:31
5 Hailemariam Tesfaye (ETH) 1:03:47
6 Erick Leon Ndiema (KEN) 1:03:50
1 Mulu Seboka (ETH) 1:09:11
2 Linah Cheruto (KEN) 1:10:22
3 Eunice Chumba (BRN) 1:10:59
4 Lucy Murigi (KEN) 1:12:06
5 Lucy Llavoga (KEN) 1:12:38
6 Tsehay Desalegn (ETH) 1:13:06