Valencia Marathon Preview – 5th December

2021 has been a great year for elite marathons and Sunday 5th December may witness the best of the lot with the 41st edition of the Valencia Marathon. With an elite field to rival most marathon majors expect world record tilts and epic showdowns. Here’s our Valencia Marathon preview.

What are the Valencia Marathon Course Records?

Evans Chebet holds the Valencia Marathon course record with a time of 2.03.00. Only six men in history have ever run faster.

The women’s record is held by Olympic champ Peres Jepchirchir whose 2.17.16 is the fifth fastest in the history of women’s marathon running.

Valencia Marathon 2021 – Elite Men’s race preview

Lawrence Cherono is the fastest in the men’s elite field courtesy of his second place finish in Valencia last year. His 2.03.04 is a truly world class best and he comes off the back of a fourth place finish in Tokyo.

Brutal conditions there saw him fare worst in a three-way battle for second but the Kenyan remains a class act. The winner of both Boston and Chicago in 2019 he also took the Amsterdam title in 2017 and 2018.

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In Geoffrey Kamworor, Cherono may face his greatest challenge, despite the three-time New York winner having only the seventh fastest personal best. Kamworor made his marathon debut in 2012 and his third place finish that day in Berlin remains his fastest to date (2.06.12). That doesn’t tell the full story of Kamworor who has rarely found himself at the traditional fast courses, at least since he seems to have mastered the distance. His marathon career so far reads as follows:

  • 2012 – Berlin – 3rd – 2.06.12
  • 2013 – Rotterdam – 4th – 2.09.12
  • 2013 – Berlin – 3rd – 2.06.26
  • 2014 – Tokyo – 6th – 2.07.37
  • 2014 – Berlin – 4th – 2.06.39
  • 2015 – New York – 1st – 2.10.48
  • 2017 – New York – 1st – 2.10.53
  • 2018 – New York – 3rd – 2.06.26
  • 2019 – New York – 1st – 2.08.13

Kamworor will hope Valencia rewrites his personal best.

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Amos Kipruto is the third fastest in the field thanks to his fourth place last year (2.03.30). The Kenyan is also a world bronze medallist from 2019. Kipruto’s career as a marathon runner has featured wins in Rome (2016) Seoul (2017) as well as podiums at Tokyo and Berlin (both 2018). The Kenyan will hope to return to form having dropped out of the Olympic marathon and finished 18th in Tokyo in 2020.

The Ethiopian challenge

Mule Wasihun will spearhead the Ethiopian challenge and boasts a 2.03.16 best from London in 2019. Somewhat shockingly Wasihun has never won a city marathon, but has podiumed at Dubai (2017), Amsterdam (2018) and London (2019). It would be some time to break that duck. Wasihun was last seen finishing fifth at last year’s London Marathon (2.06.08).

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Getaneh Molla is no stranger to upsetting the odds having won Dubai in 2019 in the fastest marathon debut of all-time (2.03.34). But his quiet 2020 and 2021 mean he will not start favourite. Since winning Dubai, Molla has raced sparingly, finishing 19th in Tokyo last year (2.08.12) and 10th in the Ethiopian 10,000m trials for Tokyo (27.44).

Kinde Atanaw has tasted what it feels like to win in Valencia, having taken the title in 2019 (2.03.51). He failed to finish in his attempt to defend the title in 2020 and was last seen finishing sixth in Prague earlier this year (2.11.00). This is only Atanaw’s fourth marathon and he will hope to return to form.

Half marathon star Amdalak Belihu will hope for a competitive debut at the marathon distance. The Ethiopian boasts a 58.54 best over the half, finishing second in the Delhi Half in 2020. Belihu was fifth at World Half Champs in 2020 and won Delhi Half in 2019. He is one to watch.

The best of the rest

Gabriel Geay of Tanzania is a marathon stud on his day but will hope to find consistency in Valencia. Geay failed to finish his first two attempts at the distance, both in Lake Biwa in 2019 and 2020. He ran 2.04.55 earlier this year in Milan to finish sixth but failed to finish the Olympic marathon. This is his fifth attempt at the distance.

Valencia Marathon 2021 – Elite Women’s race preview

The women’s field at Valencia isn’t quite as strong as previous years but does feature some talented athletes.

A stacked Ethiopian quintet

Guteni Shone heads the field with a 2.20.11 best from Dubai in 2020. The Ethiopian was second earlier this year in Prague (2.21.46) and is a Ottawa Marathon winner from 2017 (2.30.18), Seoul in 2015 (2.26.22) and Seville in 2019 (2.24.28). The experienced campaigner lines up for her 19th marathon.

Azmera Gebru will share Ethiopia’s hopes and has had a solid career at the distance. Third in Amsterdam on debut in 2018 (2.23.31), she was second the next year in Paris (2.22.52) and sixth in Tokyo in 2020 (2.22.58). Her last attempt was in Milan earlier this year, where she failed to finish but if she does get round the course she always seems to perform.

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Tadelech Bekele is the third of the Ethiopians on paper, with her 2.21.40 best ran in 2018 thanks to a third place in London. Bekele won Amsterdam that year (2.23.14). Her more recent marathons include a DNF in London in 2019 and a ninth place in Valencia two years ago (2.22.53). With no racing since January 2020, it remains to be seen just which Bekele we will see.

Rahma Tusa is a three-time Rome winner with her last title coming in 2018 where she ran her 2.23.46 best. The Ethiopian’s last outing came in a seventh place finish in Siena (2.25.09)

Surprise packages?

The Seville winner from 2020, Juliet Chekwel of Uganda is another who will hope to return to form. That day she ran 2.23.13 over half an hour better than her 69th place finish at this years Olympics. With horrible conditions in Japan, Chekwel may yet be Valencia’s surprise package.

Nancy Jelagat may only have a 2.36.22 best but her 65.21 clocking at the Berlin Half suggest considerable scope for improvement. Jelagat’s last attempt at the distance resulted in a DNF in London (2020) and her only other attempt remains her win in Treviso in 2019. With a 30.50 10km clocking on the roads if she can judge her effort the Kenyan may be one to watch.

Melat Kejeta has performed admirably for Germany. Kejeta was sixth at the Olympics over the marathon. and won a silver medal at the World Half Marathon Champs in 2020. It would perhaps be disingenuous to call her a surprise package (she’s well credentialed) but her best remains a 2.23.57 clocking from Berlin in 2019 (6th). This will be her third marathon.

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Others to watch?

This is the fourth marathon of Bornes Chepkirui‘s 2021 and she will hope to improve on a difficult year so far. Failing to finish in Milan she was 41st in Eldoret in June and third in Rotterdam in October. With a very swift turnaround from her Dutch outing it may be a tough ask for her to challenge the best of the Ethiopians. Chepkirui holds a 2.21.26 best, achieved in winning the Ljubljana Marathon in 2019.

Dorcas Tuitoek makes her second attempt at the marathon with her previous attempt resulting in a 2019 DNF in London. That year she ran 66.33 over the half has not yet shown that form in 2021. The Kenyan has run 69.04 and 70.58 over the half so far this year.

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Featured image “Geoffrey Kamworor, IAAF World Half Marathon” by ChiralJon is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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