MADRID: Joshua Cheptegei, capping one of the most sensational all-around distance running seasons in recent years, shattered the world record for 10km, clocking 26:38* at the 10K Valencia Trinidad Alfonso.

The 23-year-old Ugandan’s performance this morning came less than two months after he cruised to the world 10,000m title in Doha where he clocked 26:48.36, the fastest in the world this year. And eight months after he led a Ugandan 1-2 finish at the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, clocking 31:40 over the notoriously difficult 10.24km course.

“World cross champion in Denmark, 10,000m world champion in Doha and now the world record here in Valencia. What a year it has been,” said Cheptegei, who broke the 26:44 mark set by Kenya’s Leonard Patrick Komon in 2010.

“When I began to build up for the world record assault I was told that today’s was going to be the last edition of the 10km event which gave to me extra motivation to break the record.”

After an opening kilometre of 2:42, Cheptegei was paced through three kilometres in 7:57 and shadowed the pacesetters for another kilometre before striking out on his own as they approached the midway point. He passed the five-kilometre mark in 13:23, just one second shy of the world record for that distance, clearly illustrating that he was in world record form.

“I realised we went outside the record in the early stages but we remained focused and managed to recover the gap.”

He decided early on that some lower back back pain early in the race wouldn’t stand in the way of his first world record. ”The goal was even bigger and I could maintain my rhythm,” he said.

[Race report]


Joshua Cheptegei
Born: 12 September 1996

Born in Kapsewui in Uganda’s eastern Kapchorwa District, Cheptegei first played football and toyed with the long jump and triple as a primary school student but quickly turned to distance running when discovering that there was where his talents lied.

Cheptegei struck 10,000m gold at the 2014 World U20 Championships in Eugene and finished sixth and eighth in the 10,000m and 5000m respectively at the 2016 Olympics, when he was still a teenager. But he first made a significant mark on the senior scene in 2017.

Memorably, in front of his passionate home fans in Kampala, the Ugandan raced into a sizeable lead at the World Cross Country Championships that year only to misjudge his effort and fade dramatically over the final two kilometres, eventually finishing 30th.

Refusing to be broken, he returned to his training base determined to avoid such a fate in future. Five months later, he rebounded from the disappointment to earn 10,000m silver at the World Championships in a personal best of 26:49.94, just 0.43 behind Mo Farah.

A string of injuries followed but he rebounded again in April 2018 when he became just the second man to take the 5000 and 10,000m double at a Commonwealth Games. He improved his road 10km best to 27:16 and clocked a 41:05 world best for 15km later that year.

After his cross country triumph in Aarhus, Cheptegei competed sparingly in his build-up to Doha but raced well, winning a fiercely competitive two-mile race at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League stop in 8:07.54 and taking the Diamond League title in the 5000m in Zurich.

Those performances on and off the track found him among the finalists for the 2019 World Athlete of the Year.

Next up? A pair of big appearances, first at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships Gdynia 2020 on 29 March, a distance over which he has yet to race. Then, the 10,000m at the Olympic Games in Tokyo where he’ll cross paths with defending champion Mo Farah who recently announced his intentions to return to the track in a bid to win a third successive Olympic title.

And then?

“After that I’ll be training my body and my mind to keep on breaking records.”

Personal bests:

1500m: 3:37.82 (2016)
3000m: 7:33.26 (2019)
Two Miles: 8:07.54 (2019)
5000m: 12:57.41 (2019)
10,000m: 26:48.36 (2019)
5km: 13:24 (2016)
10km: 26:38 (2019) WR*
15km: 41:05 (2018)
10km: 45:15 (2018)

10,000m progression

2013 – 28:53.52
2014 – 27:56.26
2015 – 27:27.57
2016 – 27:10.06
2017 – 26:49.94
2018 – 27:19.62
2019 – 26:48.36


10km world record progression

26:44 Leonard Patrick Komon (KEN), Utrecht, Netherlands, 26 Sep 2010
27:01 Micah Kogo (KEN), Brunssum, Netherlands, 29 Mar 2009
27:02 Haile Gebrselassie (ETH), Doha, 13 Dec 2002


10km all-time top 10

26:38 Joshua Cheptegei (UGA), Valencia, 01 Dec 2019
26:44 Leonard Patrick Komon (KEN), Utrecht, Netherlands, 26 Sep 2010
26:46 Rhonex Kipruto (KEN), Prague, 08 Sep 2018
27:01 Micah Kogo (KEN), Brunssum, Netherlands, 29 Mar 2009
27:02 Haile Gebrselassie (ETH), Doha, 13 Dec 2002
27:02 Geoffrey Koech (KEN), Prague, 07 Sep 2019
27:04 Josphat Kiprono Menjo (KEN), Barcelona, 18 APR 2010
27:07 Mathew Kimeli (KEN), Prague, 07 Sep 2019
27:09 Peter Kamais (KEN), Tilburg, Netherlands, 06 Sep 2009
27:10 Benard Kimeli (KEN), Prague, 09 Sep 2017

* pending the usual ratification procedures