Antrim Coast Half Marathon: Kenyan Daniel Mateiko clocks 2023 world lead in NI

Kenya's Daniel Mateiko produced the fastest half marathon in the world this year as he won the men's race at the Antrim Coast event in Northern Ireland.

Mateiko, 25, clocked 58 minutes and 36 seconds as he finished two seconds ahead of Ethiopia's Jemal Yimer, who was aiming for a third straight win.

The winner's time was nine seconds inside the previous world lead set by compatriot Benard Kibet in February.

Ethiopia's Mestawut Fikir won the women's race in 66:44.

The women's winner smashed her previous personal best for the distance by over six minutes as she upset the pre-race favourite Chirchir.

Fikir's time, like Mateiko's, was a UK and Irish all-comers record, as she finished 54 seconds ahead of Kenya's Evaline Chirchir while Hannah Irwin took 36 seconds off Ann-Marie McGlynn's previous Northern Ireland record in finishing a superb fifth in 71:04.

Women's winner Fikir set her previous best of exactly 73 minutes in Rio de Janeiro last year.

Kenya's Daniel Mateiko (left) won the men's race in Northern Ireland
Kenya's Daniel Mateiko (left) is the ninth fastest half marathon runner of all time

The men's winner went into the Northern Ireland event, which is held in and around the coastal town of Larne, second in this year's world rankings after clocking 58:49 in the United Arab Emirates in February, when he finished four seconds behind compatriot Kibet.

Mateiko's half marathon personal best of 58:26 set in Valencia in 2021 puts him ninth in the all-time list but Sunday's race was his first victory in a major international race after a series of second-place finishes.

The Kenyan, who finished eighth in the 10,000m final at last year's World Championships in Eugene, will race next in the Chicago Marathon on 8 October.

"The race was my preparation for the Chicago Marathon," said the 25-year-old.

"I am very happy because this is my win first at international level and I'm am looking forward to bigger things happening to me especially in Chicago."

Last year's third-placed finisher Kenya's Shadrack Kimining was the designated pacemaker in Sunday's race and took the leading group through to the 10km in a brisk 27 minutes and 45 seconds.

At that point, Mateiko and Yimer broke clear and the duo remained within a stride of each other - with the Kenyan usually in front - before the winner sprinted clear in the closing 300 metres as another Ethiopia's Nibret Melak was some distance back in third place in 59:49.

Irwin smashes PB to set new NI record

With Africans filling the top eight positions, as pacemaker Kimining completed the course in 61:21, Ireland's Hiko Tonosa clocked 62:24 to take ninth on his half marathon debut with another Irishman Fearghal Curtin 11th in 62:35 and two-time Olympian Kevin Seaward the leading Northern Irish men's finisher in 15th spot in 64:33 as he prepared for his upcoming Dublin Marathon challenge.

Scotland's Callum Hawkins had to settle for 17th place in 65:03 with Ireland's John Travers 19th in 65:40.

Germany's Fabienne Konigstein finished third in the women's event in 70:31 - a minute and eight seconds inside her previous personal best - as Ireland's Shona Heaslip smashed her personal best by over four minutes as she took fourth in 70:35.

Irwin's new Northern Ireland record saw her taking two minutes and 19 seconds off her previous best half marathon time set in London two years ago.

The fast times set in Northern Ireland will boost the organisers' hopes of hosting the World Half Marathon Championships in the later part of this decade after they were recently edged out by Copenhagen for the 2026 event.