Naples begins its journey towards being the European Capital of Sport in 2026 with an equalling of the Italian half marathon record by Sofiia Yaremchuk (CS Army) who with 1h08'27" finished second in the Napoli City Half Marathon.

The event now has the Italian male and female records, confirming itself as the fastest half marathon in Italy. The atmosphere was one of irrepressible enthusiasm under the sky of Naples, almost six thousand runners from over 70 countries started from Viale JF Kennedy to run 21.097 km on a course full of emotions, beauty, and history with the blue of the Bay of Naples on one side and Vesuvius in the background on the other, it was a postcard of an exceptional weekend.

The leading group, made up of the Kenyans Brian Kwemoi Kirui, Bernard Kipkurui Biwott, Moses Koech and Charles Kamau Wanjiku, Antony Kimtai and the Britain Emile Cairess, paced very well by Rop Gideon Kiprotich, immediately set the right tempo, going through 2km in 5'45" (2'53"/km) and 3km in 8'22" (2'47"/km). The time at 5km was 13'59", with an average pace of 2'48"/km, on target to set a course record.

The pacemakers took the lead pack to 10km in 27'57" (2'47"/km) keeping the leaders on track. In the chasing group, a few seconds behind was the first of the Italians, Yassine Rachik who went through 10km in 30'05".

Rop (Pace), Kimtai, Biwott and Cairess broke away and made up the leading group that went through 13km in 37'01", as the pace slowed slightly. At 15km the leading group went through in 42'05", with Cairess then dropping slightly off the pace.

At one point Kimtai had 50m on Brian Kirui, but then with about 3 km to go, Kirui launched his attack, surging past Anthony Kimtai and suddenly creating a gap. The gap remained until the finish, where he crossed the line in 59'26" (2'49"/km), shaving 11" off his personal best, and equalling the course record.

He was swiftly followed by his compatriots Anthony Kimtai in 59'45", who took 45" off his PB, and Bernard Kipkurui Biwott in 59'47". First European, British athlete Emile Cairess said: "Today was a good step forward for me and I’m pleased with how I committed to the race.

“It's frustrating not to have quite gone under the 1hour barrier, which was a big focus for me, but it proves I’m in good shape at this stage in my training. We hit 10km in 27:58 and 15km in 42:05, but the last 5km I got detached and was on my own, but I’m happy with how I continued to stay engaged in the race and close the last section well.

“The Olympics are a major target this year, and my training is therefore focussed on the marathon, so this is a good indicator towards that’’. In the leading group, the two Kenyans Angela Jemesunde Tanui and Nancy Chepleting Meli started out the race together, passing 6km in 18'44" (3'07"/km).

Just before the halfway point, Tanui launched her attack and passed10km in 31'28" (3'09"/km) by which time she had a 26 second lead on Chepleting who went through in 31'54". A little further back was the first of the Italians Sofiia Yaremchuk who went through 10km in 32'16" (3'14"/km) slightly ahead of her personal best and on course for the Italian women's record.

Angela Tanui was in the end, on her own as the lead woman, relying only on the pacemaker for company, and she crossed the finish line in 1h07'04" (3'11"/km) shaving 12’’ off her personal best. "The race was easy at the beginning but then there was a bit of wind that slowed me down,” commented the winner.

“However, I am satisfied, this is my new personal best". Second place on the podium for the Italian Sofiia Yaremchuk (CS Army) who closes in 1h08'27" (3'15"/km) equalling the Italian women's record.

"It's a wonderful emotion,” she said. “Naples is always in my heart and brings me luck. The people are wonderful, the cheering of the crowd took me to the finish line with the Italian record."

Yaremchuk's coach, Fabio Martelli, said: "The race went very well and the preparation we did in Kenya paid off. It is a performance that gives us hope for the future, when we fly to Paris for the marathon’’.

‘’Today Sofiia has acquired a new confidence". Third place went to Nancy Chepleting Meli who faded in the end and finished in 1h10'03". Carlo Capalbo, president of the organizing company Napoli Running, was very excited, with tears in his eyes: "I am the happiest man in the world, six thousand people here at our beautiful race.

“We had the full package, we equalled the men's race record, equalled the new Italian women's record. Naples as the first city that holds them both. There were as well, many important personal bests, such as that of the winners, both male and female, and the final times of the winners were of the highest standard.

“These emotions are the result of a lot of work. If I go back to six years ago, when running stopped in Rome... Commitment, perseverance, collaboration, resources and a pinch of luck, today I can't wait anymore. I want to thank all the institutions, the volunteers, my collaborators, the runners, the public for the trust they have placed in participating in this event, today all together we have written a new chapter in the history of this wonderful world of road running."

The great party of Napoli City Half Marathon is the result of the work, as well as of the organising committee, of over 1000 volunteers who with a great participation spirit collaborate for this success. On the route there was also the energy and enthusiasm of the Afro-Brazilian percussion group PegaOnda while to guarantee safety there was the work of local institutions, Police Headquarters of Naples, Municipal Police, Italian Army, Fire Brigade, Technical Offices.