The Valencia Marathon Trinidad Alfonso, set to take place on Sunday, December 3, promises to be a thrilling event. World 5000 and 10000 metres record holder Joshua Cheptegei takes on formidable competitors including Kenenisa Bekele, Kibiwot Kandie, and Gabriel Geay. This high-profile race is not just a showdown of the world's elite male runners but also features a stellar women's field. Highlighting the women's competition are five athletes who have all achieved sub-2:20 personal bests: Tsegay Gemechu, Almaz Ayana, Worknesh Degefa, Joan Chelimo, and Hiwot Gebrekidan. This lineup ensures that the Valencia Marathon will feature exceptional athletes and intense competition.
Cheptegei will make his eagerly awaited marathon debut. The Ugandan athlete has won the past three world 10000 metres titles in Doha 2019, in Eugene 2022 and Budapest 2023 and claimed the Olympic gold medal in the 5000 metres in Tokyo 2021. He has fond memories of Valencia, as he set two of his three world records in the Spanish city clocking 26:38 in the 10 km road race in 2019 and 26:11.00 in the 10000 metres on the track in 2020.
Earlier this year Cheptegei clocked 12:41.61 in the 5000 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne when he finished second to Berihu Aregawi.
Cheptegei also finished fourth in the 5000 metres in Florence in 12:53.81 and won the world cross country bronze medal in Bathurst.
He finished fourth at the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia in 2020 in his lifetime best of 59:21 and second at the New York Half Marathon Championships in 1:02:09.
Joshua Cheptegei: “I feel it’s time to expand my horizon. I have been running on the track for 10 years now. I always had full focus on the track distances, while I know the marathon was waiting for me. It is an ambition that I am excited to go for. It will be new and challenging. For next year my focus will be on the track at the Paris Olympic Games, but hopefully my marathon debut will be a good experience and then I can decide after the Olympic Games what my next steps will be. “The track has taught me to be patient when chasing my goals. If you are not patient in the marathon, it means you will not be able to reach your destination and goals. What is important for me is to just enjoy the race and see what happens after 35 kilometres”.
Kenenisa Bekele will make his first appearance in Valencia. Bekele won his second World Marathon Major at the Berlin Marathon in 2:01:41 in 2019 and is currently third in the world all-time list behind Kelvin Kiptum and Eliud Kipchoge. The five-time Olympic champion won 19 global gold medals on both the track and cross country.
Kenenisa Bekele: “I have not been able to replicate my track and cross country success on the road. I never achieved the maximum effort in the marathon. I have been struggling for a long time with injury. I train hard, but I have never finished all my trainings in a good way. My mind tells me that I can still do better in the marathon. I have so many goals. The Olympic Games will be in front of us. Maybe Paris will be my last Olympics”.
Kenya’s Kibiwot Kandie will return to the Spanish city, where he won two editions of the Valencia Half Marathon in 2022 in 58:10 and in 2023 in 57:40. Kandie ran a lifetime best of 2:13:43 on his debut over the marathon distance in New York in 2021.
Gabriel Geay from Tanzania will return to Valencia where he finished second setting the national record of 2:03:00 last year. Geay finished sixth in Milan in 2021 in 2:04:55, fourth in Boston 2022 in 2:07:53 seventh at the World Championships in Eugene 2:07:31 and second in Boston 2023 in 2:06:04
The line-up will feature five runners with a sub-2:05 PB, who will be aiming to improve their performances on the very fast course. The list includes Alexander Mutiso, who finished third at the Valencia Marathon in 2022 in 2:03:29 and set his half marathon PB of 57:59 at the Valencia Half Marathon in 2020, Sisay Lemma from Ethiopia, who set his marathon PB of 2:03:36 in Berlin in 2019 and won the London Marathon in 2021 in 2:04:01, Leul Gebresilase, winner at the Valencia Marathon in 2:04:31 in 2018 and world bronze medallist in Budapest in 2023, Chalu Deso from Ethiopia, who set a lifetime best of 2:04:53 in Valencia in 2020 and won in Tokyo in 2:05:22 in 2023, and Titus Kipruto, who won the Milano Marathon in 2:05:05 in 2022 and finished second in Amsterdam improving his PB to 2:04:54 later that year.
The women’s field features five athletes with a sub-2:20 PB: Tsegay Gemechu, Almaz Ayana, Worknesh Degefa, Joan Chelimo and Hiwot Gebrekidan. Tsegay Gemechu leads the line-up with a PB of 2:16:56 set last March, when she finished second in Tokyo. Gemechu finished fourth in the 5000 metres at the World Championships in Doha 2019 in her PB of 14:29.60. She also clocked 8:33.42 in the 3000 metres in Doha in 2020 and 30:19.29 in the 10000m in Hengelo in 2021.
Ayana won the gold medal in the 10000 metres in a world record of 29:17.45 and the bronze medal in the 5000 metres at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The 32-year-old Ethiopian runner won the Amsterdam Marathon in 2:17:20 on her debut over this distance.
Degefa finished second at the Dubai Marathon in 2019 in 2:17:41. She set a half marathon PB of 1:06:14 in Prague in 2016 and recently won the Trento Half Marathon in 1:07:48 last October.
Chelimo set PBs of 2:18:04 in the marathon in Seoul in 2022 and 1:05:04 in the half marathon in Prague in 2018.
Gebrekidan set her PB of 2:19:10 in Tokyo in 2022. The Ethiopian athlete clocked 2:24:30 in Boston last April.
Bosena Mulatie will make her debut in the marathon. The Ethiopian runner ran three half marathon races this year in Ras Al Khaimah in 1:07:38, Istanbul in 1:07:43 and Copenhagen in 1:08:44.