Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda captured a rare triple crown when he broke the road 10K world record at the 10K Valencia Trinidad Alfonso on Sunday, December 1 in Valencia, Spain. The victory wrapped a banner year for the 23-year-old: In 2019 alone, Cheptegei became a cross country world champion, a world champion in the 10,000 meters, and a world record-holder on the roads.
In Valencia, the Ugandan distance star covered the 10K course in 26:38. Pending ratification, Cheptegei’s performance shattered the previous record set by Leonard Komon in 2010 by six seconds. Prior to the race on Sunday, Cheptegei’s fastest 10K on the roads was 27:16, which he ran in 2018.
“I can’t believe it,” Cheptegei told World Athletics. “I knew Valencia was going to be a really fast course, one of the fastest in the world. So to get to achieve what we came here for is something really special.”
Cheptegei achieved the record by running the majority of the race by himself. After utilizing the pacemakers through 4K, he blazed through the 5K split in 13:23, according to World Athletics. Running alone for the remainder of the race, Cheptegei negative split the second half and reached the finish line almost two minutes ahead of runner-up Kevin Kibet of Uganda. His second 5K split was 13:15, which is nine seconds faster than his current road 5K personal best.
The 10K record was the latest in a series of breakthrough performances this year.
In March, he conquered a challenging course that included a mud pit, sections with soft sand, and multiple climbs to achieve a 1-2 finish with his teammate Jacob Kiplimo at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. The cross-country victory was particularly sweet for Cheptegei, who faded from first to 30th in the final lap of the championship two years ago.