Jacob Kiplimo and Joshua Cheptegei are world beaters. Whenever the Ugandan long-distance running duo are both entered for the same event, the top prize is on everyone’s mind.
A month ago, Kiplimo claimed his first senior 10km title at the World Cross-country Championships in Bathurst, Australia. In the same race, 2019 winner Cheptegei, finished third and got bronze.
Fast forward, the pair’s plans for the Budapest World Championships due August in Hungary are under a test when they line-up in the elite men’s field for the New York City Half-Marathon in the USA.
Kiplimo and Cheptegei arrived in the Big Apple on Wednesday and part of the event’s final launch right at Times Square on Thursday.
“It’s race week!” Kiplimo stated via his Instagram handle. “It’s race week,” Cheptegei did the same too.
The 21km distance is a more familiar event for Kiplimo. He has all his career races over the distance bar the Valencia Half-Marathon where he came second behind Kenyan Kandie Kibiwott.
The Commonwealth double champion Kiplimo is a gem on the road, with five half-marathon wins including the world title in Gdynia, Poland three years ago as well as the world record (WR) victory in Lisbon, Portugal in 2021.
It implies he has to replicate his class. “I will try hard to become the first champion from Uganda,” Kiplimo said last month.
“Everybody will need to be at their best in order to beat me. I have been told that the course is difficult and a record may not be possible, so I will focus on being the first across the finish line in Central Park,” he added.
Unlike Kiplimo, Cheptegei is still a newbie at this distance. The 5000m Olympic champion actually has raced the 21km race once when he came fourth at World Half-Marathon Championships in Gdynia.
His coach Addy Ruiter and management Global Sports Communication do not have big expectations except “To run well!”
“There is no target in time or something else. Just running a good race,” Ruiter said. But, the 5000m and 10000m WR holder Cheptegei remains a strong competitor.
“Sometimes, it’s nice to do something else,” Ruiter added. The elite field comprises double Olympic medallist Rupp Galen, his American counterpart Ben True, last year’s runner-up Edward Cheserek from Kenya and Ethiopian Belay Tilahun.
It will vie for glory on a course which will start near Prospect Park in Brooklyn to Pass Grand Army Plaza to Flatbush Avenue.
The group will then cross the famous Manhattan Bridge into Manhattan before a turn and then run by the water side to the UN headquarters, Times Square and end up in Central Park.
NEW YORK CITY HALF MARATHON
Distance: 13.1 miles (21km)
Ugandans Entered: Jacob Kiplimo, Joshua Cheptegei
Course records: 59:24 (men), 1:07:35 (women), 1:12:20 (non-binary)
Sept 11, 2022: Great North Run (1st, 59:33)
Feb 19, 2022: Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon (1st, 57:56)
Nov 21, 2021: Lisbon Half-Marathon (1st, 57:31)
Dec 6, 2020: Valencia Half-Marathon (2nd, 57:37)
Oct 17, 2020: World Half-Marathon (1st, 58:49)
Nov 24, 2019: Kampala Half Marathon (1st, 61:53)
CHEPTEGEI’S 21KM CAREER
Oct 17, 2020: World Half-Marathon (4th, 59:21)