Reigning world marathon champion Tamirat Tola leads the men’s line-up at the 42nd edition of the Valencia Marathon Trinidad Alfonso. The Spanish race features seven athletes with a sub-2:05 time.
Tola won the bronze medal in the 10000m at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016 and two world medals over the marathon distance (silver in London 2017 and gold in Eugene 2021 with a championship record of 2:05:38). The Ethiopian runner won the Dubai Marathon in 2017 in 2:04:11 and finished third in this event one year later in 2:04:06. He set the fastest time of his career in 2021 when he won the Amsterdam Marathon in 2:03:39 and finished third in Tokyo in 2:04:14 in 2022. In his career, Tola broke the 27 minutes barrier in the 10000m with 26:57.33 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene.
Tola will take on his compatriots, Getaneh Molla and Dawit Wolde. Molla won the Dubai Marathon in 2019 in 2:03:34 and set PBs of 12:59.58 in the 5000 meters in Brussels in 2018, 27:44.61 in the 10000 meters in Hengelo in 2021, and 59:52 in the half marathon in Copenhagen in 2022. Wolde, who started his career as a 1500m runner, finished third in Rotterdam in his lifetime of 2:04:27 in 2021 and won the Prague Marathon in 2:06:18, and finished second in Frankfurt in 2:07:10 in 2019.
Milkesa Mengesha will make his marathon debut. Mengesha won the world under 20 cross country gold medal in Ahrus 2019 and claimed first place at the Copenhagen Half Marathon in 58:58 last September. He also clocked 12:58.28 in the 5000m in Hengelo in 2021 and 27:00.24 in the 10000m in the same Dutch venue in 2022.
The Kenyan challenge is led by Jonathan Korir, who finished fourth in Berlin 2019 with 2:06:45 and Amsterdam 2021 with a PB of 2:04:32. Three runners will make their debut over the marathon distance: Alexander Mutiso, Philemon Kiplimo, and Kelvin Kiptum, who have already competed in the Spanish city. Mutiso set PBs of 27:23:03 in the 10000 meters in Yokohama in 2021 and 57:59 in the half marathon in Valencia in 2020. Kiplimo and Kiptum also broke the 59 minutes barrier clocking 58:11 and 58:42 in the Valencia Half Marathon in 2020.
The best European runners in the field are Amanal Petros from Germany, who improved the national record to 2:06:27 in Valencia in 2021 and finished fourth at the European Championships in Munich last August, and Julien Wanders from Switzerland, who set the European record in the half-marathon with 59:13 in Ras Al Khaimah in 2019 and clocked 2:11:52 in Paris 2022.
Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey will make her debut over the marathon distance. Gidey set two of her four world records in Valencia in the 5000m with 14:06.02 in 2020 and in the half marathon with 1:02:52 in 2021. In the past two seasons she also broke the 10000m world record with 29:01.03 in Hengelo in 2021, won the bronze medal in the 10000m at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021 in 30:01.72 and the gold medal over the same distance at the World Championships in Eugene 2022 in 30:09.94.
Kenya’s Shelia Chepkurui will make her debut over the marathon distance after setting her half-marathon best of 1:04:36 in Ras Al Khaimah in 2022. Chepkurui won the Berlin Half Marathon in 1:05:02 last April.
The other top athletes in the field are Sutume Kebede, who finished second in Seoul in 2:18:12 and eighth in London in 2:20:44 in 2022, Etagegne Woldu, runner-up in Valencia in 2021 in 2:20:16, Amane Beriso Shankule, second in Dubai in 2:20:48, 2012 Olympic champion Tiki Gelana, Tigist Girma, second in Amsterdam in 2019 in 2:19:52, Tadelech Bekele, who clocked 2:21:40 in London in 2018, Monica Ngige, fifth in Boston in 2022 in 2:22:13, Biruktayt Eshetu, second in Toronto in 2:22:40 in 2019, Meseret Gebre, winner in Barcelona in Barcelona in 2022 in 2:23:11, Adawork Aberta, seventh in Seville in 2022 in 2:23:39, Tadu Teshome, first in Barcelona in 2021 in 2:23:53.
The best non-African runners in the field are Sinead Shiver from Australia, who set her PB of 2:23:11 in London in 2019, and Giovanna Epis from Italy, who set her PB of 2:25:20 in Valencia last year and finished fifth at the European Championships in Munich.