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For the 2020 Valencia Marathon run on Sunday — one with an elite-only field due to the coronavirus pandemic — several personal bests and national and world records were set. 

With the age of the fast shoes upon us, ripping fast marathon and half-marathon courses and a near-empty race schedule, Valencia was the European race to peak for. 

Organisers assembled a top-flight field for the event and they did not disappoint. 

Some of the lesser-known performances

Forty-year-old Namibian Helalia Johannes finished third overall and broke the world masters (W40) record by more than two minutes with a stunning 2:19:51 performance. The previous record is 2:22:11 by Kenyan Lydia Cheromei from Valencia two years ago. Johannes owns three national records including the masters half-marathon record of 68:10 set earlier this year.

From Spain, Ayad Lamdassem broke the national record in the marathon leading five countrymen to finish under the 2:10-barrier.

Lamdassem, age 39, finished in the time of 2:06:35, bettering Julio Rey’s previous record of 2:06:52 from the Hamburg Marathon in 2006. He may be named to the Spanish Olympic team for the first time in his career and next year can take down all sorts of Spanish records like Johannes is doing in Namibia.

American Emily Sisson came within one second of tying the national record in the half-marathon. She clocked a 67:26 for a four-second personal best. Molly Huddle owns the record at 67:25. Sisson finished fifth.

A few stats

Thirty men ran sub-2:10. Forty ran under the Tokyo Olympic standard of 2:11:30. One finisher clocked exactly 2:11:30. Frank Futselaar recorded a time that was two seconds faster by chip. The 29-year-old Dutch athlete’s personal best performance was a 2:36 improvement over his previous best from the Amsterdam Marathon last year.

Six women ran under-2:20. The winner Peres Jepchirchir won. In November, she told Athletics Illustrated that she will be running sub-2:20 in Valencia, “my next race if everything goes well in my preparation and the day of the race I can run under 2:20. It is not for sure because marathon training is very different than half-marathon training but I am confident to run fast.”

She finished with a near seven-minute personal best. It is the fifth-fastest marathon of all-time.

Twenty women ran sub-2:29:30, the Tokyo Olympic standard.

In the half-marathon event, four men ran sub-58-minutes. The winner Kibiwott Kandie and the three next finishers all broke the world record, Kandie broke it the best with a 57:32 performance.

Eight ran under 60-minutes.

Genzebe Dibaba owns seven world records from 1500m to the 5000m. She didn’t quite take the half-marathon record, but she did run a stunning debut in the time of 65:18 for the win.

Three of the 10 finishers clocked under 66-minutes. Six were under 70.

More Ethiopians would have likely toed the line, however, there is civil unrest happening in the North-Eastern African country. Travel is restricted and ill-advised at this time.

The shoes

It is a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t purchase or be supplied with (if you are sponsored), shoes that contain special foam rubber and carbon spring-loaded plates. If you don’t, you will likely be beaten. If you do, there will always be that caveat, “but that performance was aided by special shoes.”

Adidas has appeared to catch up to Nike in the enhanced shoe race. Three of the four race winners were wearing the above adidas shoes.

In January, also in Valencia, Kenyan Rhonex Kipruto ran a world record in the 10K. He finished in the time of 26:24 wearing adidas.

The adidas adizero Adios Pro shoes were worn by Kandie with his world record in the half-marathon, Jepchirchir in her near seven-minute personal best marathon performance and Evans Chebet who won the marathon in a jaw-dropping 2:03:00 were wearing them too. Shoebox shaped gifts under the tree may be a new meme for the holiday season.

Next up on the sparse marathon calendar is The Marathon Project. The race is happening Dec. 20 in Arizona.

Read more about Valencia>>