Kenyan distance runner Geoffrey Kamworor (© Getty Images)
Valencia will once again become the epicentre of the running world on 5 December when it holds the Valencia Marathon Trinidad Alfonso EDP, a World Athletics Elite Platinum Label race that in 2021 wants to continue making history by breaking records.
And to achieve this, it will count on some of the best athletes in the world including Geoffrey Kamworor, Lawrence Cherono, Amos Kipruto, Melat Kejeta and Guteni Shone.
Kamworor, winner of three world half marathon titles and two world cross-country titles, is eager to improve on his 2:06:12 PB, set on his debut at the distance back in 2012. Since he had to withdraw from the Tokyo Games due to injury, the two-time New York Marathon champion from Kenya has been preparing exclusively and conscientiously to achieve a great result in Valencia.
Cherono is coming off a fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics. The 2019 Boston and Chicago champion will return to the scene of his 2:03:04 PB, a time which makes him the fastest in the field.
World bronze medallist Kipruto, who also achieved his personal best in Valencia, is another of the five sub-2:04 performers in the field; Ethiopia’s Mule Wasihum (2:03:16), Getaneh Molla (2:03:34) and 2019 Valencia winner Kinde Atanaw (2:03:51) comprise the rest of the sub-2:04 quintet.
Ethiopia’s Andamlak Belihu, who finished fifth over 10,000m at the 2019 World Championships and at the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships, will be making his marathon debut. The 22-year-old’s PBs of 26:53:15 for 10,000m and 58:54 for the half marathon point to a potentially fast time for the full marathon distance.
Although no one in the women’s field has a PB faster than 2:20, organisers are hopeful that barrier will be broken again in Valencia for the third year in a row.
Guteni Shone came close to that mark last year when finishing second in Dubai with 2:20:11. Fellow Ethiopian Azmera Gebru is also less than a minute shy of the barrier, thanks to her 2:20:48 PB from the 2019 Amsterdam Marathon.
Germany’s world half marathon silver medallist Melat Kejeta could start as the pre-race favourite, though. The 29-year-old holds the European half marathon record at 1:05:18 and finished sixth in the marathon at this year’s Olympic Games.
Two-time Amsterdam winner Tadelech Bekele, 2018 Prague Marathon champion Bornes Chepkirui and fellow Kenyan Purity Changwony are also in the line-up, along with Ugandan record-holder Juliet Chekwel and three-time Rome Marathon champion Rahma Tusa of Ethiopia.
Nancy Jelagat, who recently clocked 1:05:21 for the half marathon, looks to be due a big breakthrough at the marathon. Marathon debutante Dorcas Tuitoek is also one to watch.
“This year’s marathon is extremely competitive, as we like it in Valencia,” said elite athlete coordinator Marc Roig. “I don’t rule out a sprint finish in both the men’s and women’s races – in fact, I’m counting on it. The athletes know that Valencia offers one of the best courses for achieving personal best times. And this, with the level of runners we have, can easily translate into several athletes breaking the course record. By how much? We will see on 5 December.”
Organisers for World Athletics
Guteni Shone (ETH) 2:20:11
Azmera Gebru (ETH) 2:20:48
Bornes Chepkirui (KEN) 2:21:26
Tadelech Bekele (ETH) 2:21:40
Juliet Chekwel (UGA) 2:23:13
Rahma Tusa (ETH) 2:23:46
Melat Kejeta (GER) 2:23:57
Nancy Jelagat (KEN) 2:33:56
Dorcas Tuitoek (KEN) debut
Lawrence Cherono (KEN) 2:03:04
Mule Wasihun (ETH) 2:03:16
Amos Kipruto (KEN) 2:03:30
Getaneh Molla (ETH) 2:03:34
Kinde Atanaw (ETH) 2:03:51
Tsegaye Mekonnen (ETH) 2:04:32
Gabriel Geay (TAN) 2:04:55
Geoffrey Kamworor (KEN) 2:06:12
Andamlak Belihu (ETH) debut