Klosterhalfen triumphs on her half marathon debut with 65:41 in Valencia

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European 5000m champion Konstanze Klosterhalfen from Germany made a dream half marathon debut in the Valencia Half Marathon on Sunday (23), moving to third on the European all-time list with victory in 65:41.

Klosterhalfen tracked the pacemakers with intent, passing through 5km in 15:35, 10km in 31:08 and 15km in 46:47. The German still had the company of Ethiopians Tsige Gebreselama and Hawi Feysa at this checkpoint but Klosterhalfen broke clear just before the 20 kilometre mark and strode to a memorable first instalment of her half marathon career. 

In just her fourth ever road race, Klosterhalfen stopped the clock at a super-fast 65:41 to defeat Gebreselama (65:46) and Feysa (66:00) with world 10,000m bronze medallist Margaret Kipkemboi from Kenya fourth in 66:50.

"I am very surprised and excited with what I have achieved today. In the next half marathon, what I am looking for is to improve my time," said Klosterhalfen, who has been training at high altitude in Kenya in preparation for her half marathon debut.

21 K Klosterhalfen

“I chose Valencia because I wanted to do a quick race and seeing the results of previous editions I decided on this city. I couldn't have picked a better race to start my career with. I would have liked to repeat the last three kilometres to improve the time because I think they can be improved.

"In the next race I'm going to work on that and hopefully I can break the German record," added Klosterhalfen who becomes just the third European to break the 66 minute-barrier on a record compliant course after Sifan Hassan (65:15) and German record-holder Melat Kejeta (65:18), the latter winning silver at the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships.

Türkiye’s Yasemin Can, who regained her European 10,000m title in Munich and won 5000m silver behind Klosterhalfen, was ninth in 67:45.

There were also fast times from the European contingent in the men’s race. In a race won by Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie in 58:10, Italy’s Pietro Riva was the leading European finisher in 11th in a lifetime best of 60:30, one place ahead of Great Britain’s Emile Cairess who improved to 60:32.

Gega makes a record-breaking homecoming in Tirana

Fellow European champion Luiza Gega from Albania was also in victorious form at the half marathon distance on Sunday (23).

Competing in Albania for the first time since becoming her country's first ever European champion with 3000m steeplechase gold in Munich, Gega won the Tirana Half Marathon in 70:18 to improve her national record from 70:58.

Gega, who holds all the Albanian records from 800m (2:01.31) to the marathon (2:35:34), almost won the half marathon outright. She finished one second behind the men’s winner Dmytro Didovodiuk from Ukraine in 70:17.


Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal’s prospects of challenging the likes of Klosterhalfen for the European 5000m title in Munich last summer was scuppered by a knee injury but the Norwegian was back in good form on the roads over 10km.

The reigning European cross country champion won the Hytteplanmila 10K in Hole, just to the north-west of Oslo, on Saturday (22) in 31:00.

In a high quality men’s race, Narve Gilje Nordas took the victory in 28:18 ahead of teenager Abdullahi Dabir Rabi, the silver medallist in the U20 race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships last year, in 28:23.

Fellow teen prodigy Joel Ibler Lillesø from Denmark, the reigning European U20 5000m champion, was fourth in 28:38.

Both Rabi and Lillesø are still eligible to compete in the U20 race at this year’s SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Piemonte-La Mandria Park near Turin on 11 December.

Double gold for Almgren and Mengsteab at the Swedish Cross Country Championships

Former 800m specialist Andreas Almgren scooped a 4km and 10km double at the Swedish Cross Country Championships in Vallingby on 22-23 October.

Almgren, who has since moved up to the 5000m and smashed the long-standing national record with 13:01.70 last summer, won the 4km on the Saturday in 11:10 before stepping up in distance to win the 10km in 29:21 ahead of Samuel Russom (29:24) and Samuel Tsegay (29:33).

“I felt very comfortable throughout the race, it was really only when there was a little over a kilometre to go that a little fatigue started to set in. It felt good and I knew that I had a good sprint in the race, so it was just a matter of extending my stride,” said Almgren after the 10km.


Former European cross country bronze medallist Samrawit Mengsteab also won both titles and was largely unopposed in both races. She won the 4km in 13:25 and the 10km in 35:00, winning the longer of the two races by exactly half-a-minute.

At the Serbian Cross Country Championships in Novi Sad on Saturday, former European U23 cross country silver medallist Elzan Bibic won the senior men's 10km by more than two minutes in 31:01. Now 45, five-time European cross country bronze medallist Olivera Jevtic won the senior women's 8km in 29:02. 

In other national championships, Dino Bosnjak and Bojana Bjeljac won the senior 10km and 8km titles at the Croatian Cross Country Championships in Varazdin.

Hristyan Stoyanov and Militsa Mircheva, the latter a former silver medallist in the U23 race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, won the senior titles at the Bulgarian Cross Country Championships in Sungurlare. 

At the Northern Ireland International Cross Country on Saturday, a World Athletics Cross Country Tour Silver level event, European U20 3000m champion Nick Griggs was an excellent second in the senior men's 8km at the age of 17.

Griggs, who is still eligible for the U20 race at the 2022 and 2023 SPAR European Cross Country Championships, finished second in 25:36 in a race won by Ethiopia's Gizelaw Ayana in 25:24. 

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