Valencia 'City of Running' serves up a feast of records
World half marathon record smashed; four men sub-2:04 in a marathon for the first time; all four course records broken in a bonkers end of year finale in Spain
It was more like the end of a track race than a marathon. After 42kms of close combat, there was nothing to choose between Kenyan athletes Lawrence Cherono and Evans Chebet in the Valencia Elite Edition Marathon today (Sunday 6 December) as they swung onto the azure blue finishing straight beside Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe – the science museum.
As the pair rubbed shoulders on the final turn, Cherono's legs briefly buckled and Chebet was away to savour his victory in a PB 2:03:00 – the sixth fastest ever – making Valencia the third-fastest marathon in the world behind Berlin and London. Cherono (2:03:02), Birhanu Legese (Ethiopia, 2:03:14), and Kenya's Amos Kipruto (2:03:28) all ran inside the previous course record (2:03:51). This was the first time that four men have ever beaten 2:04 in a marathon race, as the top 30 all broke 2:10:00.
The women's marathon witnessed a six-minute PB by world half-marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya, 2:17:13) – also a Valencia course record in the 40th running of the race. This was a 2020 world-leading time and the fifth-fastest in history. Jepchirchir was unwittingly paced to the finish by Norman Shreeve (Cambridge & Coleridge, 2:17:11 PB) who can be seen finishing just ahead in our image above. The women’s podium was completed by Joyceline Jepkosgei (Kenya, 2:19:48) and W40 master Helalia Johannes (Namibia, 2:19:53).
In our Valencia preview last month we suggested the accompanying half marathon could be an even better quality race and so it proved. The first four men beat the world record of 58:01 set by Geoffrey Kamworor (Kenya) in Copenhagen in 2019. Good conditions, with sunshine and a gentle westerly breeze, helped the performances of Kibiwott Kandie (Kenya, 57:32), Jacob Kiplimo (Uganda, 57:37), Rhonex Kipruto (Kenya, 57:49) and Alexander Mutiso (Kenya, 57:59). The 5K splits of 13:37; 13:48; 13:45 and 13:32 tell the story of this incredible race.
The women's race was won by Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia, 1:05:18) – the fastest half marathon debut in history and the fourth Valencia course record of the day. The world 1500m record holder (3:50.07) was followed home by Sheila Chepkirui (Kenya, 1:05:39) and Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia, 1:05:51).
With a race budget reported to exceed $6 million, the self-styled 'City of Running' lived up to its hype, and on a day of astonishing performances, it was fitting to hear Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody blasting out on the loudspeakers in the background, with apt lyrics that include: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”
You can relive the entire historic event via this link