CHEPTEGEI, KIPLIMO TO RENEW THEIR RIVALRY AT UNITED AIRLINES NYC HALF
By David Mont, @d9monti
(c) 2023 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved – Used with permission.
NEW YORK (16-Mar) — Standing in Times Square this morning, Jacob Kiplimo and Joshua Cheptegei looked like any other tourists visiting one of this city’s most famous landmarks. Their hands thrust into their jacket pockets to ward off the late winter cold, the two Ugandans took in the sights while engaging in friendly conversation and taking a few selfies. Neither had ever been to New York City.
But on Sunday at the 16th edition of the United Airlines NYC Half, America’s largest half-marathon with about 25,000 finishers, they will return to their more familiar roles as rivals. Kiplimo, 22, the reigning World Athletics half-marathon and cross country champion, and Cheptegei, 26, the reigning Olympic and World Athletics 10,000m champion, will face each other again just 29 days after the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia. There –in hot, humid and windy conditions– Kiplimo won the gold medal in a last-lap breakaway relegating Cheptegei, who was the event’s reigning champion, to the bronze medal position. Both are savoring the chance to race head to head again, but their rivalry is clearly a friendly one.
“I’m happy to be competing together with Joshua,” said Kiplimo, the world record holder for the half-marathon, with a relaxed smile. He beat Cheptegei in 2020 World Athletics Half-Marathon Championships where he was the surprise gold medalist and Cheptegei finished fourth in his first and only half-marathon. He added: “On Sunday we’re going to try our best, I’m going to try my best.”
Cheptegei said, “absolutely, yes,” when asked if he was motivated to race against Kiplimo. “I would really give everything to win,” he told Race Results Weekly. “But you never know what goes in the race.”
According to the respected statistics website Tilastopaja Oy, Cheptegei has a 6-0 record over Kiplimo in track races at 5000m and 10,000m. In the half-marathon, Kiplimo won in their only meeting, and at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships they are tied 1-1. Cheptegei was the gold medalist in Aarhus, Denmark, in 2019 where Kiplimo took the silver.
But their biggest rival on Sunday just might be the course. When the race debuted as a summer event back in 2006, the course went from Engineers’ Gate in Central Park to a stretch of the West Side Highway…
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