Astute pundits rated Jacob Kendagor as the favourite for the 2014 Maratón Valencia Trinidad Alfonso and the Kenyan didn’t disappoint at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, although strong winds in the final kilometres contributed to preventing him from going faster than his winning time of 2:08:37 on Sunday (16).
In doing so, the 30-year-old added this win to last year’s success at the Valencia Half Marathon event, making him a favourite in the Mediterranean city.
The race had been billed as a serious attack on the Spanish all-comers’ best of 2:07:14, set in the same race by his fellow Kenyan Felix Kipkemoi Keny last year, and an improvement looked a definite possibility during the first half of the race.
An extremely large leading group went through the opening 10km in 30:12.
Helped by a triumvirate of pacesetters, the leading athletes reached the half marathon point in 1:03:46. The 30km split was a promising 1:31:14 and the leading group was still eight-strong but any hope of dipping under 2:07 vanished from that point onwards as temperatures started to rise.
Kendagor, with a 59:36 half marathon to his name – started to break away from the rest around 35 kilometres and he soon had opened a sizeable gap on his fellow Kenyan Samuel Kosgei.
At the tape, Kendagor could not fulfil his target of lowering his best of 2:07:35 or the course record but his 2:08:37 proved to be enough to take a clear win some 31 seconds ahead of Kosgei, who was second in 2:09:20, while last year’s winner Keny dropped out of the race.
Completing an all-Kenyan men's podium, Francis Kipkorir Kiprop was this in 2:09:20
The winner commented: “the flat Valencia circuit is perfect but the wind did not help me in the second part of the race. However, I will not forget Valencia because it's the first marathon win of my career."
The women’s race quickly became a three-horse battle between the Kenyan pair of Pamela Rotich and Ednah Kimaiyo, as well as Namibia’s Beata Naigambo.
This trio ran together for much of the race but Naigambo, third in Valencia 12 months ago, stepped up the pace some six kilometres out to clinch the win in 2:30.52.
In the fight for the minor places on the podium, Kimaiyo set a massive career best of 2:31:20 to take second place. Rotich was third in 2:31:35.
There were no less than a record 11,523 finishers. The start and finish of the marathon was in the magnificent City of Arts and Sciences.
In addition to the main event, a 10km race was also held with victory going for Kenya’s Yusuf Biwott in 29:13.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF