Sifan Hassan smashed the European 10,000m record at the FBK After Summer Competition in Hengelo, Netherlands, on Saturday (10).
Running alone for more than half the race, the 27-year-old Dutchwoman clocked 29:36.67 to become the fourth fastest woman in history for the distance. In doing so, she sent a clear indication of the form she'll be bringing to the start line at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, seven days from now where she'll be among the strong favourites.
Hassan, the world 1500m and 10,000m champion, illustrated world record ambitions in the early stages, shadowing pace-setter Laura Wightman as she clipped off eight successive sub-71-second laps until Hassan took over to close the ninth lap in 70.23, until that point, the fastest of the afternoon.
But instead of easing, she upped the tempo over the next several laps, running well ahead of the Wavelight technology red lights which were operating at 29:22.5 pace. She powered on with laps of 68.98 - the fastest of the race - 70.28 and then a 69.61 just after reaching the halfway point in 14:38. An assault on Almaz Ayana's 29:17.45 world record, set at the Olympic Games four years ago, was on.
But as her tempo increased, so did the punch of the steady rain as the temperature, 11C at the meeting's start about an hour earlier, descended to 8C. The impact of those conditions, coupled with the demanding pace, soon began to take their toll.
Hassan covered the 13th lap in 70.70 seconds, then, with occasional grimaces appearing, covered laps 14 and 15 in 71.36 and 71.56 before the wave's green lights, indicating a pace outside of the record, caught her on lap 16.
She forged on, lapping the field on the 21st lap before eventually reaching the line in 29:36.67, well under the European record of 30:01.09 set by Paula Radcliffe at the 2002 European Championships - when Hassan was just nine years old. It was also well under her 30:17.62 personal best which propelled her to the world title last year. Hassan now holds world records at one mile and one hour and European records at 1500m, 3000m, 5000m, 10,000m and the half marathon.
“I am so happy to have run a new European record, especially a record that has stood for so long by such a strong athlete as Paula,” Hassan said.
“It was a very difficult race today as it was so cold and wet. I was feeling really strong today and wished for a bit better conditions, but this record gives me a lot of confidence.”
Tsehay Gemechu of Ethiopia was second in 30:57.73.
The three-race meeting at Hengelo’s FBK Stadium, set up by the management firm Global Sport Communication to provide a few of their athletes with one final opportunity for a fast time on the track this year, began with a women's 1000m race featuring Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon.
The Kenyan won handily but with the race dampened by the wet and chilly conditions, her third assault this season on Svetlana Masterkova's 2:28.98 world record never quite fully materialised. She clocked 2:32.82, well behind the 2:29.15 and 2:29.92 efforts she produced at the Monaco and Brussels legs of the Wanda Diamond League earlier this season.
Winny Nanyondo of Uganda was distant a second, clocking 2:40.50.
A men's 5000m race, featuring Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha and Australian Stewart McSweyn, followed. Kejelcha, who took firm command by the midway point, took the victory in 13:12.84 with McSweyn following in 13:16.05.
Bob Ramsak for World Athletics