Last Sunday, September 16th, 22000 runners hit the streets of Copenhagen to take part in CPH Half Marathon. Because of its fast route, its field, and its atmosphere, CPH Half is one of the most prominent races in Europe. But how has this race become so popular? Read more to find out about some CPH Half’s key facts and all the juiciest highlights from last Sunday!

A world-class race

As the first race in the Nordic countries, the Copenhagen Half Marathon has been awarded the prestigious quality designation IAAF Gold Label by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF). This label certifies that the race is one of the “leading road races around the world”. The gold label is given when the race meets the following requirements:
    1. The race must have an international elite field (at least 5 nations must be represented, with a faster time than the IAAF’s guidelines)
    2. The race must be close to the vehicular traffic – with full electronic timing used to generate the results
    3. The race must be organized in a way that minimizes ecological damage to the surrounding areas
    4. A specific number of doping tests must be carried out
    5. Prize money should be equal, irrespective of the gender of nationality, though additional rewards can be given to runners from the host nation
  CPH Half’s compliance with these requirements was inspected by David Katz, one of the leading road race experts from the IAAF. With his 40 years of experience as a finish line coordinator at major race events such as the New York and Boston Marathons, David Kats knows a lot about his road races! In 2017, he carefully examined CPH Half and declared: ”the Gold (label) is fully deserved. The Copenhagen Half Marathon is on par with the most prestigious races in the world, such as London, Berlin, and New York. The CPH Half organizers have succeeded in creating an event, which the runners are proud to take part in and talk about before, during and after the race".

World record attempts & unexpected winners

Since Copenhagen Half Marathon has been rewarded with a gold label, the race has become quite popular for elite runners all around the world to run. Both the women’s and men’s field were extremely competitive this year. Many of the elite runners announced beforehand that they were running for a personal best and even attempting to go after a world record. Let’s have a look at this year’s big names and actual winners! On the men’s side, there were 14 runners with sub 60-hour credentials (over 21 km/hr!). With last year’s winner Abraham Cheroben (Bahrain) and runner-up Jorum Okombo (Kenya), the level for 2018 was already super high. However, Cheroben dropped out early in the race and Okombo was placed 12th on Sunday. This was a big surprise to the audience since they were among the favorites to win the race and even beat the world record of 58.23 minutes set by Zersenay Tadese from Eritrea in 2010. The winner of the 2018 CPH Half was the young Kenyan Daniel Kipchumba who clocked in 59.06 minutes to claim the victory, crushing his compatriot Abraham Kiptum (runner-up) and Ethiopian Jemal Yimer (3rd place) in a thrilling sprint finish in the streets of Copenhagen this Sunday. The women’s field was also set for fast times, when Joan Melly (Kenya), last year’s runner up, announced that the world record would be her target on Sunday. With her last amazing running-year, Melly was a clear favorite to win this year’s CPH Half. In April this year, she ran amazingly 65.04 minutes for the half marathon – only 14 seconds shy of the world record of 64.51 set by the Kenyan Joycilene Jepkosgei in March this year). Melly’s toughest challenge was Ruth Chepngetic (Kenya) who has an amazing sub-65minutes personal best. Both Melly and Chepngetic had male pacers to lead them through the streets of Copenhagen in an attempt for the world record. After having led most of the race on Sunday, Melly eventually became 3rd and Chepngetic became 5th. With the great surprise of the audience, the Dutch track and field runner Sifan Hassan came away with the victory in a stunning time of 65.15 minutes. Sifan is still new to on the half-marathon distance - she has only raced another half marathon back in 2011 – but this Sunday she showed everyone that she is not only a world-class runner on the track but also on the streets. The 25-year-old Dutchman lowered the European Record from 2007 with more than one minute - and she was only 24 seconds away from the world record! In conclusion, Sifan can be very satisfied with a new personal best, a European record and a National record!

The Danish field

The Danish Championships on the half marathon was also happening this Sunday on the exact same course as CPH Half, at the same time. The Danish Championships can only be won by a Danish-born citizen, which is why the Kenyan’s cannot win this title. The Danish athlete Thijs Nijhuis, from Viborg Atletik, was a big favorite to win the Danish Championships on the distance this Sunday. Thijs managed to live up to the expectations as he could call himself Danish champion for the second time, after a heated battle with Peter Glans (who was only 3 seconds short from winning the title!) and Andreas Lommer. Thijs can now call himself Danish champion on both the half marathon distance and on the 1500m distance, which he won in August this year. This is a rare combination to win! On the women’s side, it was a big surprise that the favorite Amalie Haughuus dropped out after 10km and left the win to Cecilie Mikkelsen. Cecilie is a member of Sparta Atletik and ran a shining new personal best when she crossed the finish line, only realizing by then that she won the Danish Championships for women.