Athletics: Soh Rui Yong sets new national best in half-marathon at San Jose race

Singapore marathoner Soh Rui Yong (right) with Zambian Jordan Chipangama, whom he trained with for 5 and a half weeks at high altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona, before the San Jose Rock N Roll Half Marathon. Chipangama won the half-marathon in 1:03:00. Soh set a new national best with 1:07:21. PHOTO: SOH RUI YONG
Singapore marathoners Mok Ying Ren (left) and Soh Rui Yong took part in the San Jose Rock N Roll Half Marathon on Sunday in California. Mok ran 1:08:22 in his first race in 15 months after a string of injuries, while Soh broke Mok's 2014 national best in the half-marathon when he clocked 1:07:21. PHOTO: SOH RUI YONG

National marathoner Soh Rui Yong set a new national best in the half-marathon on Sunday, clocking 1hr 7min 21sec at the San Jose Rock N' Roll Half Marathon in California.

His timing improves Mok Ying Ren's record of 1:07:29, set at the Christchurch Marathon in June last year.

Mok, who also ran in the same event and is currently training in Boulder, Colorado, clocked 1:08:22.

The result means Soh, who also won the SEA Games marathon this year, is now Singapore's top distance runner. He also holds the national record in the 10km event, and with a personal best of 2:26:01 in the marathon, is the Republic's fastest active marathoner.

He told The Straits Times in a phone interview shortly after crossing the finish line: "This record is something I've been trying to get for a long time.

"Conditions were great. It was warm enough to go without arm sleeves or long socks, but cool enough to run well. The course was flat, not many hills. The conditions were as good as we can ask for."

Soh, 24, took part in the San Jose event after a 40-day high-altitude training stint in Flagstaff, Arizona. He had also trained there before competing in the SEA Games in June.

He is using the race to secure a berth in the Singapore team for the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff next March. His next race is the Fukuoka Marathon in December.

Both Soh and Mok are hoping to qualify for next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The qualifying mark is 2:17, well under Murugiah Rameshon's national record of 2:24:22, set in 1995. Mok's personal best is 2:26:30.

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