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

Jepkosgei and Lemma take the honours in London marathon war of attrition

Joyciline Jepkosgei and Sisay Lemma both ran away from the rest of the field to claim the titles at the 2021 London Marathon.

The women’s race – Jepkosgei shows her class

If anyone wants a lesson in marathon running, tell them to watch Jepkosgei’s performance today. The Kenyan went through halfway in 68:51 before running the second half just one second slower to run 2.17.43, seventh on the all-time list.

Heading through the half the pack was eleven strong, with all the favourites in contention. Slowly it was whittled down. Alemu Megertu was the first to go, not far past halfway. Next up Tigist Girma and Birhane Dibaba starting to feel the pinch at 25k. Next came Joan Chelimo Melly, then Valary Jemeli, by 35k the race had revealed its final cast.

Five remained. Jepkosgei hit the front through 35k, Degitu Azimeraw, Ashete Bekere, Lornah Chemtai Salpeter closing tracking with Brigid Kosgei slowly starting to crack.

As the 2020 winner started to become detached Jepkosgei made her move, pulling away from the pack and establishing a fifteen second lead relatively quickly. In her wake Azimeraw and Bekere.

By 40k the gap was fourteen seconds with Azimeraw the first of the two Ethiopians and it was a lead Jepkosgei was to maintain down the Mall. In doing so Jepkosgei adds London to her 2019 New York triumph and has established herself as the closest challenger to Olympic champ Peres Jepchirchir. That would be some battle one day down the line.

Azimeraw finished fifteen seconds back, her 2.17.58 enough to make her the ninth fastest female of all-time, with Bekere twenty seconds behind and eleventh on the same list.

Joyciline Jepkosgei12.17.43
Degitu Azimeraw22.17.58
Ashete Bekere 32.18.18
Brigid Kosgei42.18.40
Lornah Chemtai Salpeter52.18.54
Valary Jemeli62.20.35
Joan Chelimo Melly72.21.23
Zeineba Yimer82.21.40
Tigist Girma92.22.45
Charlotte Purdue102.23.26
Birhane Dibaba112.24.21
Sinead Diver122.27.16
Alemu Megertu132.27.18
Eloise Wellings142.29.42
Rose Harvey152.29.45

Britain’s Charlotte Purdue produced an impressive run with a slight negative split (71:44/71:42) for third on the British all-time list, just seven second behind Mara Yamaouchi. Rose Harvey impressed also with 2.29.45, just fifteen seconds outside the World Champs qualifying time.

The men’s race – Lemma has his moment

The men’s race had early drama with 2020 winner Shura Kitata dropping back after just five kilometres. By 10k the Ethiopian was twenty-five seconds adrift of a lead pack running aggressively from the off.

Evans Chebet, Vincent Kipchumba, Titus Ekiru, Mosinet Geremew, Birhanu Legese and Sissay Lemma lead a pretty elite group up front, four of which have run 2.03.00 or under. 29.13 through 10k the leading six passed half way in 1.01.25, with Eliud Kipchoge’s 2.02.37 course record looking under some threat.


Six became five shortly after 25k with the withdrawal of Titus Ekiru. The Milan winner from early this year was one of the big pre-race favourites. Barring Ekiru’s withdrawal none of the contenders proved willing to show their cards, something that at the time looked tactical but was made clear by what came next.

Sissay Lemma splits

The London Marathon winner would be decided by who could hold their pace best. While Lemma looked to be flowing away from Kipchumba and Geremew from 35k you need only look at his splits to see it was more a case that the Ethiopian held it together best.

Lemma crossed the line in an impressive 2.04.01, a time all the more creditable given a strong early pace. His splits of 61:26/62:35 were enough to deliver the greatest win of a highly consistent marathon career.

Three podiums at London, Berlin and Tokyo are now joined by the biggest them all and one that will do well to erase the dissapointment of his DNF at the Olympics. His 22nd career marathon, it is also a lesson many marathon men would do well to heed.

Sisay Lemma12.04.01
Vincent Kipchumba22.04.28
Mosinet Geremew32.04.41
Evans Chebet42.05.43
Birhanu Legese52.06.10
Shura Kitata62.07.51
Phil Sesemann72.12.58
Joshua Griffiths82.13.39
Matthew Leach92.15.31
Andrew Davies102.15.36
Jonny Mellor112.16.09
Weynay Ghebreselassie122.16.27
Charlie Hulson132.17.02
Josh Lunn142.18.06
Mo Aadan152.18.19

Sesemann wins British marathon title.

Behind Lemma the British contest was took shape from 20-25k with Phil Sesemann putting a significant dent to his nearest challenger Josh Griffiths. A 15:31 5k split saw him put 32 seconds into the Swansea athlete who showed serious strength to rally over the final miles. 1 minute 26 seconds behind at 30k Griffiths would close the gap to 41 seconds by the finish. Sesemann finished in an impressive debut of 2.12.58, Griffiths, 2.13.39 with Matt Leach running 2.15.31 for a significant personal best.

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London Marathon 2021 – The British Preview

Here’s our British preview of the 2021 London Marathon.

London acts as an qualifier for the 2022 World Championship Marathon in Eugene. With potential Commonwealth and European spots also to fight for, the race amongst the Brits looks as good as ever.

For our full previews for the race as a whole see here for men, and here for women.

London Marathon – British Women Preview

The British women in the elite race are as follows:

AthletePersonal Best
Charlotte Purdue2.25.38 (London, 2019)
Natasha Cockram2.30.03 (Kew, 2020)
Rose Harvey2.30.58 (Wrexham, 2021)
Naomi Mitchell2.33.23 (London, 2020)
Becky Briggs2.38.58 (Kew, 2021)
Samantha Harrison2.51.33 (Manchester, 2017)

Purdue seeks redemption

Charlotte Purdue’s omission from the Olympic marathon team was well publicised and clearly still rankles to some degree. On the question of potentially qualifying for the World Championship Marathon in Eugene, Purdue said the below:

“I can’t say there won’t be selection issues because you never know what they’ll do.”

Charlotte Purdue on potential World Championship qualification

As tongue-in-cheek as the comment may have been meant, Purdue knows that a strong run should earn her place. The Nic Bideau coached athlete has stated she is going for Mara Yamauchi’s 2.23.12 best, a time which would elevate her from fourth to second on the British all-time list. With a recent third place finish at the Great North Run (68:49) and a win at the Big Half (69:51), both difficult courses, the thirty-year-old looks in impressive shape.

Those chasing the World Champs standard

Natasha Cockram enters London as the defending champion as far as British runners go. Her 2.33.19 in difficult conditions was enough to hold off the challenge of Naomi Mitchell. Cockram will be aiming to lower her 2.30.03 Welsh record, achieved in finishing second at the Marathon trials in June.

She will also have a very big eye on the World Championship standard of 2.29.30, a standard she may well find herself capable. Cockram enters the race off the back of a ninth place finish at the Great North Run (72.59) and says this is the first time she has entered a marathon injury free.

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In perhaps better form is Rose Harvey. The Clapham Chasers athlete has exploded onto the scene thanks to a fourth place finish in the Cheshire Elite marathon. Her 2.30.58 was almost a twenty-five minute pb. Coached by Phil Kissi (also coach of Steph Davis), more recently Harvey came third in the Antrim Coast Half in a big personal best of 70:28. She has realistic hopes of a sub 2.29.30 clocking.

No stranger to massive breakthroughs herself, Samantha Harrison broke 70 minutes for the half earlier this year (69:48) and was second at the recent Big Half (70:39). Harrison’s only previous marathon was the Manchester Marathon in 2019 where she ran 2.51.45. It is a time she will look to obliterate on Sunday, despite being coy on what pace group she will target.

The outside shots.

It is perhaps harsh to call Naomi Mitchell an outside shot, her second (British) place in London last year was hot on the heels of Natasha Cockram, and at one point she looked like she may well beat her. The Reading AC athlete was seventh at this years Olympic trials in 2.37.50 and raced most recently at the Big Half where she ran 74.23 for fifth. Mitchell will also be aiming to run the 2.34 England Commonwealth Games standard.

Becky Briggs made her marathon debut in Kew, finishing eighth in 2.38.58. Briggs was seventh in Antrim (73:30) and will hope to improve on her best from March.

London Marathon 2021 – British Men Preview

The elite men in the British race are as follows:

Athlete Personal Best
Jonny Mellor2.10.03 (Seville, 2020)
Mohamud Aadan2.12.20 (Kew, 2021)
Joshua Griffiths2.13.11 (London, 2020)
Charlie Hulson2.13.34 (London, 2020)
Andrew Davies2.14.36 (Valencia, 2019) V40 British Record
Nick Torry2.15.05 (Frankfurt, 2013)
Weynay Ghebresilasie2.17.21 (London, 2019)
Matt Leach2.17.38 (Marathon Project, 2020)
Josh Lunn2.17.59 (London, 2020)
Dan Nash2.18.51 (Brighton, 2019)
Ross Skelton2.19.21 (Amsterdam, 2019)
Doug MussonDebut (64:36 Half Best)
Jamie CroweDebut (64:19 Half Best)
Phil SesemannDebut (62:47 Half Best)

Another redemption attempt

Jonny Mellor returns to London hoping to be the first Brit for the second time in a row. The Liverpool Harrier ran 2.10 twice in 2020 but suffered a freak gout injury before the Olympic trials. Mellor was subsequently not selected for Tokyo but made his return at the Big Half. His 64:44 shows some room for improvement but Mellor has experience of rising to the occasion (He ran 64.46 three weeks before 2.12 in Berlin in 2019). He will hope to break 2.10 for the first time and will keep an eye on the 2.11.30 World Championship qualifying time.

“I’m a highly motivated runner but it’s definitely a bit more fuel to the fire”

Jonny Mellor on not being selected for Tokyo

The chasing pack

Mohamud Aadan will tow the line for his second marathon, having debuted in Kew in March (2.12.20 for third). The Thames Valley Harrier comes into London high on confidence after a third place finish in the Big Half (62:28) and will have realistic aspirations of chasing the 2.11.30 standard. Aadan was sixth Brit at the 10,000m Olympic Trials.

Josh Griffiths already has the Welsh Commonwealth Games standard so may decide to go for broke and chase the World standard instead. The Swansea athlete also will be targeting the father/son world record currently held by Tommy and Eoin Hughes (4.59.22), a side goal Griffiths feels confident of achieving.

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Commonwealth standard pushes

Charlie Hulson has run below the Commonwealth standard but not within the qualifying period and will aim to repeat the feat after a difficult 2021 with injuries. The New Balance Manchester athlete, coached by Steve Vernon, has a 64:28 half marathon best from 2019. His only outing this year was a second place finish in the Chester Half (67:02), a measured run two weeks out from London.

Andrew Davies, another Steve Vernon athlete, will also be targeting the Commonwealth standard. The Welsh standard is 2.15.30, a time Davies was within 20 second off at Kew. Davies has raced two Commonwealth Games so far (17th in 2014, 11th in 2018) and has also represented GB at the 2017 World Champs. Running the standard would cap a truly remarkable career for the former semi-pro footballer who took up running seriously well past his 32nd birthday. Davies ran 67:42 at the Chester Half behind Hulson.

Phil Sesemann makes his debut after a very solid 2021 where he competed at the Euro Indoors over 3000m. The Leeds City AC athlete will feel capable of running the 2.14 English Commonwealth standard.

The outside shots

Matt Leach is better than his 2.17.38 suggests. The Bedford & County runner has a 62:57 half marathon best from the Houston Half and may target the English Commonwealth standard.

Others chasing a potential commonwealth standard will be:

England (2.14.00): Doug Musson, Ross Skelton, Nick Torry (13th in Glasgow 2014)

Scotland (2.15.12): Jamie Crowe, Weynay Ghebresilasie

Wales (2.15.30): Josh Lunn, Dan Nash

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Featured image Eddie Keogh for Virgin Money London Marathon

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New York City Marathon 2021 Preview

The 2021 World Marathon Major Calendar will round out with the New York City Marathon, here’s our preview. The Sunday 7th November date means New York have managed to assemble possibly the finest field of the lot with plenty of Olympic interest and some exciting debuts. Here we preview the elite races.

How fast is the New York City Marathon?

New York, by marathon majors standards, is one of the relatively slower courses in large part due to some significant elevation in the first five miles:

That said due to the calibre of the elite field over the years New York is the fourth fastest major for women and fifth fastest for the men. With previous winners including Mary Keitany (four times), Paula Radcliffe (3), Wilson Kipsang, Geoffrey Mutai (2) and Geoffrey Kamworor (2) winning New York is in my eyes the third most prestigious major behind London and Berlin.

Average Winnings Times (Since 2007)BerlinBostonChicagoLondonNew YorkTokyo
Men 02:03:4102:09:4502:06:5002:04:5902:07:5702:07:09

Who is in the women’s elite field for the 2021 New York City Marathon?

The elite women’s field for the 2021 New York City Marathon is as follows: (Only sub 2.30 runners and notable debuts included).

AthleteCountryPersonal Best (where they set it)Recent Performances
Peres Jepchirchir Kenya2.17.16 (Valencia, 2020)Tokyo Olympics – 1st (2.27.20), Valencia 2020 – 1st (2.17.16)
Ruti AgaEthiopia2.18.34 (Berlin, 2018)Valencia 2020 – 7th (2.20.05), Tokyo 2020 – DNF
Helalia JohanesNamibia2.19.52 (Valencia, 2020)Tokyo Olympics – 11th (2.31.22), Valencia 2020 – 3rd (2.19.52)
Ababel YeshanehEthiopia2.20.51 (Chicago, 2019)Ethiopian 10,000m Olympic Trials – DNF, Delhi Half 2020 – 3rd (65.21), World Half – 5th (65:41)
Nancy KipropKenya2.22.12 (Vienna, 2019)Nagoya 2020 – DNF, Santa Pola Half 2020 – 2nd (69:32)
Desiree LindenUSA2.22.28 (Boston, 2011)Brooks 50k 2021 – 1st (2.59.54), US Olympic Trials 2020 – 4th (2.29.03)
Emily Sisson USA2.23.08 (London, 2019)Olympic Games 10,000m – 10th (31.09)
Kellyn TaylorUSA2.24.29 (Duluth, 2019)Marathon Project 2020 – 3rd (2.25.22) US Olympic Trials 2020 – 8th (2.29.55) 
Sally KipyegoUSA2.25.10 (Berlin, 2019)Tokyo Olympics – 17th (2.32.53), Eldoret 2021 – 26th (2.40.22)
Molly Seidel USA2.25.13 (London, 2020)Tokyo Olympics – 3rd (2.27.46), London 2020 – 6th (2.25.13)
Laura ThweattUSA2.25.38 (London, 2017)USA 15k Champs 2021 – 8th (50.31), US Olympic Trials 2020 – 5th (2.29.08)
Andrea Ramirez LimonMexico2.26.34 (Marathon Project, 2020)Tokyo Olympics – DNF, Marathon Project 2020 – 6th (2.26.34)
Haruka YamaguchiJapan2.26.35 (Osaka, 2020)Nagoya 2021 – 24th (2.37.04), Osaka 2021 – 14th (2.39.26)
Aliphine TuliamukUSA2.26.50 (Rotterdam, 2019)Tokyo Olympics – DNF, US Olympic Trials 2020 – 1st (2.27.23)
Stephanie BruceUSA2.27.47 (Chicago, 2019)Valley Half 2021 – 1st (69.55), US Olympic Trials – 6th (2.29.11)
Lanni MarchantCanada2.28.00 (Toronto, 2013)Las Vegas Half 2021 – 6th (73:19)
Krista DucheneCanada2.28.32 (Toronto, 2013)Chilly Half 2021 – 1st (76:20)
Hannah Lindholm Sweden 2.28.59 (Sevilla, 2020)Berlin 2021 – 12th (2.33.23), S7 2021 – 3rd (2.29.36)
Roberta GronerUSA2.29.09 (Rotterdam, 2019)USA 15k Champs 2021 – 18th (51.56)
Samantha RoeckerUSA2.29.59 (Marathon Project, 2020)Marathon Project 2020 – 12th (2.29.59)
Viola CheptooKenyaDebutHerzongenaurach Half 2021 – 6th (69.13), New York 10k – 2nd (31.39)

Who is in the men’s elite field for the 2021 New York City Marathon?

The elite men’s field for the 2021 New York City Marathon is as follows: (only sub 2.12 runners and notable debuts included)

AthleteCountryPersonal Best (where they set it)Recent Performances
Kenenisa BekeleEthiopia2.01.41 (Berlin, 2019)Berlin 2021 – 3rd (2.06.47)
Abdi NageeyeNetherlands2.06.17 (Rotterdam, 2019)Tokyo Olympics – 2nd (2.09.58), Valencia 2021 – 15th (2.07.09)
Ghirmay GhebreslassieEritrea2.07.11 (Siena, 2021)Siena 2021 – 10th (2.07.11)
Eyob FanielItaly2.07.19 (Sevilla, 2020)Tokyo Olympics – 20th (2.15.11), Tuscany Half 2021 – 3rd (60.07)
Albert KorirKenya2.08.03 (Ottawa, 2019)Eldoret 2021 – 10th (2.13.53) New York 2019 – 2nd (2.08.36)
Callum HawkinsGreat Britain2.08.14 (London, 2019)Tokyo Olympics – DNF, Marugame Half 2020 – 3rd (60.01)
Girma Bekele GebreEthiopia2.08.38 (New York, 2019)Herzogenaurach Half 2021 – 11th (65.59), New York 2019 – 3rd (2.08.38)
Noah DroddyUSA2.09.09 (Marathon Project, 2020)Cherry Blossom 10 Mile – 13th (47.47)Marathon Project 2020 – 2nd (2.09.09)
Mohamed El AarabyMorocco2.09.16 (Chicago, 2018)Tokyo Olympics – 11th (2.12.22), Siena 2021 – 24th (2.10.06)
Jared WardUSA2.09.25 (Boston, 2019)USA 20k 2021 – 16th (61.21), London 2020 – 17th (2.12.38)
Benjamin PreisnerCanada2.10.17 (Marathon Project, 2020)Tokyo Olympics – 46th (2.19.27), Marathon Project 2020 – 8th (2.10.17)
Akira TomiyasuJapan2.10.29 (Lake Biwa, 2021)Lake Biwa 2021 – 46th (2.10.29)
Jose Luis Santana MarinMexico2.10.54 (Lima, 2019)Tokyo Olympics – 56th (2.21.32) S7 Half 2021 – 2nd (62.57)
Ryan Vail USA2.10.57 (London, 2014)US Olympic Trials 2020 -DNF
Thijs NijhuisDenmark2.10.57 (Sevilla 2020)Tokyo Olympics – 70th (2.26.59), Enschede 2021 – DNF
Nathan MartinUSA2.11.05 (Marathon Project, 2020)Marathon Project 2020 – 9th (2.11.05)
Matt LlanoUSA2.11.14 (Berlin, 2019)Atlanta Half 2021 – 3rd (64.19), US Olympic Trials 2020 – 38th (2.17.22)
Patricio Castillo Mexico2.11.24 (Valencia, 2020)Trial of Miles Half – 1st (62.15), Valencia 2020 – 39th (2.11.24)
Elkanah KibetUSA2.11.31 (Chicago, 2015)USA 10 Mile 2021 – 9th (47:39)
Temesgen HabtemariamEthiopia2.11.42 (Cologne, 2013)Bermuda Half 2021 – 3rd (70:03)
Kibiwott KandieKenyaDebutIstanbul Half 2021 – 1st (59:35), Valencia Half – 1st (57.32)
Teshome MekonenEthiopiaDebutNYRR 10k 2020 – 1st (29.23)
Ben True USADebutUSA 20k 2021 – 1st (59:53)

Who are the favourites for the New York City Marathon women’s race?

In my eyes there is a pretty nailed on favourite when it comes to the women’s race, with the New York Road Runners having pulled off a huge coup to get her on the start line.

Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir is one of the greatest half marathon runners in history. Twice a World Champion over the distance (2016, 2020), she is also the world record holder for a women’s only race (65:16). With her win in Valencia to move herself to fifth (2.17.16) on the all-time marathon list and her dominating win over Brigid Kosgei in Tokyo she may well become one of the finest marathon runners in history too. A win in New York would add to that cause. If she has recovered from Tokyo and has a good day, she should win. For a run down on her fascinating emergence to the top of distance running, read our feature here.

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Jepchirchir’s main challengers

Helalia Johanes is a bronze medalist from Doha and was third behind Jepchirchir in Valencia. The Namibian was eleventh in Tokyo and will be towing the start line for her 31st marathon. Expect a consistent performance from the 41-year-old.

Ruti Aga‘s best was a second place in Berlin in 2018 and she won Tokyo in 2019. That said recent outings have been less impressive for the Ethiopian with her best result since then a seventh place finish in Valencia (2.20.05). Aga is still young (27) and could find herself in the mix once more.

Aga’s compatriot Ababel Yeshnaneh is yet to get get the best out of herself over the marathon distance but comes with huge pedigree over the half. In 2020 she broke the world record in winning the RAK half (64.31) and was third and fifth in Delhi and the World Half that year respectively. Her most recent outing was a DNF in Hengelo at the Ethiopian 10,000m Olympic trials.

This will be Yeshnaheh’s fourth marathon after winning in Abu Dhabi (course was short but 2.20.16 in 2018), sixth in Tokyo in 2019 (2.24.02) and second in Chicago later that year (2.20.51). If she gets it together she could yet be Jepchirchir’s greatest challenge.

The US assault

For me the US challenge will centre itself around three athletes. Emily Sisson is stepping up after competing the Olympic 10,000m where she finished 10th. She went into that race with hopes of a much higher finish and has already showed herself adept at the marathon distance. Sisson was sixth in London in 2019 on debut (2.23.08) and may benefit from not having ran a brutal Olympic marathon.

Molly Seidel‘s bronze in Tokyo was a phenomenal achievement in a world class field. To run 2.27.46 in such conditions suggests her 2.25 best is vulnerable but the main question will be how she has managed the post Olympic comedown. Her most recent outing was a seventh place finish at the Great North Run (71.55). If she is over Tokyo she may find herself in the mix or at least in contention for a big personal best. As a reminder this is only her fourth marathon, which makes her Olympic bronze all the more impressive.

The final genuine challenge I see coming from Desiree Linden. The world 50k record holder showed some form in breaking three hours for the distance which suggests an improvement on the 2.29.03 she ran in the Olympic trials in Feb 2020. If conditions are difficult she will hope for a repeat of her Boston triumph from 2018. This would be even more impressive given she is racing there on 11th October and then aiming to repeat in New York.

The outsiders

Nancy Kiprop was fourth in the last edition of New York (2019) when she ran 2.26.21. That year she also won Vienna (2.22.12). Her most recent outing was a DNF in Nagoya in 2020.

Kellyn Taylor of the USA impressed in the Marathon Project (2.25.22) and at the Grandma’s marathon in 2019 (2.24.29). Her experience could see her challenge for top American honours.

Who are the favourites for the New York City Marathon men’s race?

For my money there are three standouts all with different merits.

Heading up the field a certain Kenenisa Bekele only seven weeks after his third place in Berlin (2.06.47). Bekele suffered after a suicidal early pace from the head of the field but showed decent shape to finish third. This will be his best bet of a marathon major since his 2019 Berlin triumph. As a reminder Bekele’s marathon career has gone as follows:

  • 2014 – Paris 1st (2.05.04) Chicago 4th (2.05.51)
  • 2015 – Dubai DNF
  • 2016 – London 3rd (2.06.36) Berlin 1st (2.03.03)
  • 2017 – Dubai DNF, London 2nd (2.05.57) Berlin DNF
  • 2018 – London 6th (2.08.53)
  • 2019 – Berlin 1st (2.01.41)
  • 2020 – London DNS
  • 2021 – Berlin 3rd (2.06.47)
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Abdi Nageeye heads to New York on the back of Olympic silver. How he figures in New York could depend on what type of race it is but if the pace dips he has a strong chance as a championship performer.

The most exciting of the lot, however, is the debut of World Half Marathon record holder Kibiwott Kandie. The Kenyan’s sole blip in recent years is a second place to Jacob Kiplimo in the World Half but he is otherwise faultless. If he can carry anywhere near his half-marathon form (57.32) to the full distance he is the man to beat.

The outsiders

Ghimray Ghebreslassie is a World Marathon champ from 2015 as well as the New York winner in 2016. Despite running a personal best in Siena this year that seems a bit of a red herring. It was his first major attempt in the new shoes. He DNF’d in his two marathon appearances in 2018, was out the whole of 2019 and was only tenth in Siena. But if he has shaken off those injury troubles and Siena acts as a bit of a rust-buster then he may well challenge.

Albert Korir‘s sole appearance since 2019 was in the Eldoret City Marathon (10th, 2.13.53) in a race for into which it’s hard to read too much . The Kenyan won in Ottawa and Houston in 2019 and was second to Kamworor in New York (2.08.36). He could figure once more.

A debut for Ben True

It will be interesting to see how Ben True’s goes in his marathon debut. The Diamond League winner in New York in 2015 (over 5000m) impressed on his most recent outing in the USA 20k champs, albeit in a less than world class time (59:53).

Our predictions

The women’s race:

  1. Peres Jepchirchir
  2. Emily Sisson
  3. Ababel Yesnaneh

The men’s race:

  1. Kibiwott Kandie
  2. Kenenisa Bekele
  3. Abdi Nageeye

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Featured image “New York Marathon 2013” by jaroslavd is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0