The Ethiopian athlete Sisay Lemma won the Valencia Marathon with a time of 2:01:48, which is breaking the record of the race with the sixth best world mark in history. At 43 years of age, he becomes the fourth-best athlete behind world record holder Kiptum, Kipchoge and his compatriot Kenenisa Bekele, from whom he almost snatched the Ethiopian record.
The pace of the race was devilish and at kilometre 21 it was 15 seconds faster than the one experienced in Chicago, but Lemma's victory was forged at the same time that the possibility of turning Valencia into the fastest marathon in the world vanished. The attack launched by the Ethiopian from the group of favourites at kilometre 35, impossible to follow by Geay and Mutisu, helped him to take the victory and shave five seconds off the best mark of the race that had been set by Kelvin Kiptum, the marathon record holder.
With this mark, Valencia is placed as the fourth fastest circuit of the international marathon, along with Chicago, Berlin and London. Behind Lemma crossed the finish line Mutiso with a time of 2:03:11, and the third was Dawit Wolde with a time of 2:03:48. Kenenisa Bekele came fourth on the blue runway in 2:04:19.
In the women's category, the victory went to fellow Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa with a provisional mark of 2:15:51, which improved her best time by almost two minutes and, although it did not come close to the record, she set the eighth best in the history of the event. He was followed by Almaz Ayana (2:16:22) and Hiwot Gebrekidan (2:17:59).
Ethiopia's Worknesh Degefa after crossing the finish line. EFE
Joshua Cheptegei was also the protagonist, one of the great attractions of the race because he decided to make his debut in the distance in Valencia. The fastest man in the 10,000 meters suffered a lot and could not be among the best. He crossed the finish line fainting, with a time of more than 2 hours and 9 minutes and had to be picked up by the international coach, Marc Roig, and the director of the Marathon, Paco Boaro in a gesture of recognition of the greatness of this athlete.
The exploits of Novales and Maayouf
The Spaniards Tariku Novales and Majida Maayouf also experienced special moments in this marathon by shattering the Spanish records of the race. The Galician did so with a time of 2:05:48 and the recently naturalized 2.21:27, marks that give him the passport for the Olympic Games in Paris.
The Galician Tariku Novales after his Spanish record.EFE
Tariku was unrivaled. His idea was to be the first Spaniard to go under 2 hours and six minutes and he succeeded. In addition, he got rid of the bad taste in his mouth that Valencia left him in 2022, when he ended up injured.
For Majida Maayouf, too, this record was a liberation. It was her first test as a Spaniard and after a controversial positive test in 2020 for an asthma medication she used before a 10K in Germany, and which did not result in any sanction because she was authorized to use it retroactively. She has never wanted to talk about that and preferred to do it on the streets of Valencia. "I couldn't achieve my best time because in the end I was very lonely, but I'm very happy. In this race, people take you when your legs start to fail," he said.
Roig promises one million euros to whoever breaks the world record
Businessman Juan Roig, president of Mercadona, but also of the Trinidad Alfonso Foundation that organizes and sponsors the Valencia Marathon, promised one million euros for the athlete who breaks the marathon world record in this event. Roig made this announcement accompanied by Paco Borao, director of the Trinidad Alfonso Valencia Marathon, at the end of the 2023 edition
"We want to announce that when the world record is broken, we will give one million euros, if he does it in Valencia. We will give half a million to Paco (Borao) and another half to me to the one who wins, because one of our illusions is that the record is broken in Valencia," Roig said with a laugh.
In this edition, the organization offered 250,000 euros for whoever broke the world record, both in the men's and women's categories. The businessman was convinced that one day that record will be broken in this event, although he said he does not know when it will happen. "But we will fight for it," he said.
Roig highlighted how the event has been integrated in the city, in the Valencian Community and in Spain. "We wanted the Fallas to be the most important event in the city and we are satisfied with that. Here there are no recommendations, you can see the culture of effort, here you fight against yourself and it's beautiful."
Roig praised the vision of SD Correcaminos that promoted the event in the eighties and with which he shares his organization and said that they are close to the event, which has a budget of about 6.5 million, being "one hundred percent sustainable".
- Articles Inma Lidón