Records expected to tumble as strong fields assemble for Valencia Marathon

PREVIEW: Records expected to tumble as strong fields assemble for Valencia Marathon

Abigael Wafula 16:31 - 02.12.2023

Records are expected to fall at the Valencia Marathon owing to the quality of fields that have been attracted in the men's and women's races.

The Valencia Marathon Trinidad Alfonso – a World Athletics Elite Platinum Label event –has attracted one of the finest fields in both the men’s and women’s races.

Two-time World 10,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei will draw much of the attention on Sunday as he will be making his debut over the full marathon.

The Ugandan, who is the world record-holder in the 5000m and 10,000m, has sweet memories of the streets, as it is where he set a world 10km record of 26:38 in 2019 and the still-standing world 10,000m record of 26:11.00.

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He will face an acid test from the Kenyan duo Kibiwott Kandie and Alexander Mutiso who will also be starting among the favourites. Kandie was in the form of his life six weeks ago when he achieved his third victory at the Valencia Half Marathon.

He has had two prior outings at the marathon distance, but is yet to make his mark; he hopes that Sunday’s race will be third time lucky.

Mutiso made a remarkable marathon debut in Valencia last year, placing third in 2:03:29. Valencia is where he also set his half marathon PB of 57:59 in 2020.

Titus Kipruto, who has a personal best (PB) of 2:04:54 and finished eighth at the World Championships in Budapest, will join his Kenyan compatriots on the start line.

Legendary marathoner Kenenisa Bekele will also be in the mix to hunt for victory. The 41-year-old failed to finish the London Marathon earlier this year and will try to bounce back on Sunday.

The former 5000m and 10,000m world record-holder will be joined by compatriots Leul Gebreselassie, Sisay Lemma, Dawit Wolde, and Chalu Deso.

Watch out too for Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay and Brazil’s Daniel Do Nascimento. Geay was runner-up in Valencia last year with a PB of 2:03:00, then placed second in Boston earlier this year in 2:06:04.

The 27-year-old also finished seventh at the 2022 World Championships, just ahead of Do Nascimento, a 2:04:51 performer.

Meanwhile, in the women’s race, Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana will be the woman to beat. The 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion made her marathon debut in Amsterdam last year, clocking 2:17:20 in what was then the fastest debut in history.

The 32-year-old placed seventh in London in 2:20:44, but had won the Lisbon Half Marathon one month earlier in a PB of 1:05:30. She will line up alongside compatriots Genzebe Dibaba, Worknesh Degefa, Hiwot Gebrekidan and Bosena Mulatie.

Celestine Chepchirchir, who ran 2:20:10 in Seoul last year, and Seville Marathon winner Jackline Chelal, who has a PB of 2:20:29, are the leading Kenyan entrants for this year’s race.

Poland's European champion Aleksandra Lisowska, Spain's Majida Maayouf (2:21:01) Croatia's Bojana Bjeljac (2:23:39), Italy's Sofiia Yaremchuk (2:24:02) and Ireland's Fiounnala Mc Cormack are among the other leading international entrants.