After the world-leading mark set last year by Kenya’s Abraham Cheroben, organisers of the 25th Medio Maratón de Valencia Trinidad Alfonso are hoping that their IAAF Silver Label Road Race will also produce some fireworks on Sunday (18) to celebrate the silver jubilee edition of the event.
No fewer than 10 men who have dipped below 60-minute territory at least once throughout their careers will be chasing the current world-leading mark which belongs to Kenya’s Bedan Karoki with his 59:14 effort in Copenhagen five weeks ago.
Still 22, Cheroben clocked 58:48 in this race last year to set a PB and a Spanish all-comers’ best in the process. The Kenyan has a season’s best of 59:49 when finishing third in Berlin last March. More recently, Cheroben has also shown fine form as he improved his 10km personal best to a winning 27:35 time barely 20 days ago in Utrecht.
Last year’s runner-up Kenneth Kipkemoi will also be in contention on Sunday, trying to make his fourth consecutive podium in Valencia following successive second-place finishes over the past three seasons. The 31-year-old set his career best of 59:01 in 2014 but his best this year is 1:00:17 when finishing seventh in Berlin.
Another man to watch closely is Kenya’s Leonard Komon. After a successful background in cross country, including a world silver medal in 2008, the 27-year-old turned his attention to the road some years ago and set world records of 26:44 and 41:13 for 10km and 15km respectively.
More recently, Komon tackled the half marathon in which he set a 59:14 PB to win in Berlin in 2014. His last appearance over the distance came in March this year when he finished third in Prague in 59:57.
Simon Cheprot is a consistent sub-60-minute performer, his latest outing being 59:32 in Copenhagen last month. After coming sixth last year in Valencia, Cheprot will be looking to make it on to the podium and beat his 59:20 PB.
Other top Kenyans in attendance are Mathew Kisorio, Titus Mbishei, Daniel Chebii, Vicent Yator and Edwin Rotich while Ethiopia’s Getu Feleke, a 2:04:50 marathon runner, will try to avoid a Kenyan clean sweep of medals.
Women’s course record in jeopardy
Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa should be tipped as one of the favourites thanks to her consistent 2015 campaign which includes no fewer than five half-marathon appearances, topped by a massive PB of 1:07:14 to grab a convincing win in Prague.
Barely one month ago, the 24-year-old took silver at the All African Games in Brazzaville in a race in which the top three finishers were separated by less than a second. If she runs close to her best, she could challenge the course record of 1:08:01 set last year by Emily Chebet.
Kenya’s Rose Chelimo should be a threat for the Ethiopian. Earlier this year she set a PB of 1:08:22 to win in Lisbon, one of four half-marathon victories for Chelimo this year.
Other top contenders are the Kenyan trio of Peninah Arusei, who ran 1:08:56 in Lille last month, Polline Njeru (1:09:06) and Emily Ngetich (1:09:13) plus the Ethiopian tandem of world cross-country bronze medallist Netsanet Gudeta, who clocked 1:08:46 when finishing sixth at the 2014 World Half Marathon Championships, and Genet Kassahun (1:09:14). Several Japanese athletes will also take part, headed by Eri Makikawa (1:10:27).
More than 12,500 athletes are entered for Sunday’s running festival – a 19% increase on last year’s figures – which winds its way through the historic city centre and the Americas Cup port area.
“It won’t be easy to match the 2014 standards but we are aiming for a men’s world lead and a women’s course record at least,” said AIMS president Paco Borao at the pre-race press conference. “The field assembled is worthy of a World Championships. The weather will play an important role as well; let’s hope it’s not windy on the day, but the humidity here in Valencia is unavoidable.”
Weather forecasters predict a fairly sunny day, with a low chance of rain and temperatures in the range of 18-20C during the event.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF