The Valencia Marathon is this coming weekend. Justin Lagat has some ideas for this marathon. 

Valencia has always produced fast times from 10 Km to half marathon and full marathon. That is why we should be expecting an exciting race this weekend, given the dream elite fields. The long list of elite runners could be a result of runners trying to hit the Olympic qualifying times. From countries where selectors always find it hard to settle on runners to represent them in major world championships, the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners here will have more incentives to push harder.

It looks set to be a race between the experienced and the new stars in the marathon distance, in the men’s race.

Three times Olympic and five times World Champion, Kenenisa Bekele represents the experienced runners. His personal best time of 2:01:41, which he ran in 2019 at the Berlin Marathon, makes him the fastest on the start list with 44 runners who have run under 2:10:00! However, it has been a while since the Ethiopian national record holder ran a great race over the distance.

Most eyes will be on Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, the man who broke Bekele’s long-standing world records for the 5000m and 10,000m on the track and who he will happen to meet on his marathon debut on Sunday coincidentally. Cheptegei represents the new runners in the marathon distance.

Will Bekele seize the opportunity to get back at the man who took his track world records? Will Cheptegei take his speed to the marathon distance and establish his name in the distance as well? Time will tell.

Joshua Cheptegai ran 1:54, and 53.42 to win the 10,000m gold! World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July15-26, 2022, photo by Kevin Morris

Can an elite runner improve his personal best time in a marathon by a margin of almost ten minutes? It will be worth watching Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie, who has a personal best of 2:13:43, for that possibility. His personal best time of 57:32 for the half marathon predicts a potential for him to run well in Valencia.

Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay, with a personal best time of 2:03:00, which he ran last year at the Valencia marathon to finish second, the same position he finished at the Boston Marathon earlier this year, will be the other name to watch closely.

Kenenisa Bekele, 2022 London Marathon by London Marathon

The other sub 2:04:00 runners to watch out for will include Kenya’s Alexander Mutiso with 2:03:29, Ethiopia’s Getaneh Molla with 2:03:34, and Sisay Lemma, who is also an Ethiopian, with 2:03:36.

“In a pre-Olympic year, the Valencia Marathon represents the strongest event in the world. Dozens of athletes are looking to book their ticket to Paris 2024, with more than a dozen seeking national records and both the men’s and women’s front-runners going for course records. Valencia is, once again, the Ciudad del running,” says Valencia Marathon’s international elite coach, Marc Roig.