© Copyright – 2022 – Athletics Illustrated

The Valencia Half Marathon offers a fast course, deep fields, and good prize money. The top athletes choose Valencia not just to win, but to set new standards, records, and personal bests, and yes go for the win; the dash for cash.

The top-three men at the Valencia Half Marathon were Kenyan Kibiwott Kandie for the win in 58:11, Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha who clocked 58:32, and another Kenyan Daniel Mateiko who took third with his 58:40 clocking.

Kandie finished second at the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland with his 58:54 clocking. The 26-year-old owns a best of 57:32, which is the national record and second fastest performance all-time behind only Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda, who has run one second faster in Lisbon. Kandie set his PB by winning the 2020 edition of the Valencia Half Marathon.

During the race on Sunday, Kandie made a move at the 10K point where he tried to drop the four athletes that he had been working with. He surged again shortly after which the others did not respond to. Eventually, each competitor slowly dropped off and Kandie cruised in for the win, suggesting that perhaps he could have run faster.

No surprise that the Kenyans dominated the front of the field finishing 1, 3, and 5th through tenth place.

Women’s race

In the women’s race, however, the Kenyans missed the podium altogether with Margaret Chelimo finishing fourth in the time of 1:06:50.

It was a big day for Germany with Konstanze Klosterhalfen taking the win in her debut when she clocked a 1:05:41. She was followed in by Ethiopians Tsigie Gebreselama in 1:05:46 and Hawi Feysa Gejia in 1:06:00 who finished in second and third places respectively.

Klosterhalfen holds 11 national records or bests over various distances in both indoor and outdoor track from one mile to the 10,000m. Klosterhalfen’s half-marathon time in Valencia is the record for a German-born athlete, however, the national record is slightly faster at 1:05:18 by former Ethiopian Melat Yisak Kejeta. She had picked up the silver medal at the Gdynia World Half Marathon Championships when she achieved that time.

Klosterhalfen is the fastest European-born runner over the 21.1K distance now. She is third as a European as the continental record is held by former Ethiopian and now Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan with her 1:05:14 best from the 2018 running in København, Denmark. Hasan holds 10 European and national records and bests over a variety of distances.

The lead group was led off and on by Klosterhalfen, world 10000m silver medallist Chelimo, Vicoty Chepnggeno, Ngolo, Feysa, and Gerbrselama who all passed through 5K in 15:29, and then the 10K mark in 31:08, which put them on 1:04-high pace. They ran the next 5K in the time of 15:35. Klosterhalfen, Gebrselama, and Feya, then dropped the pace with 2K remaining. Klosterhalfen surged further and the lack of response put her into the winning position nicely. 

Apparently, the 25-year-old German trained in Kenya to prepare specifically for Valencia — the move worked. 

“I am very surprised and excited about what I achieved today. I could not have picked a better place to start with. I will try to improve my time at the next half marathon,” she said. “I only lost a bit of time in the last 3K. I will work on that for the next race and hopefully, I can break the German record. I chose Valencia because of the fast times set over the past years and my decision proved to be right.”

Canadian record dropped

Ben Flanagan from Kitchener, Ontario improved the Canadian record with his 1:01:00 finish time, taking 18th overall. If there was a race within a race, then fellow Canadian and national marathon record holder Cameron Levins brought it. The two finished five seconds apart, after Levins’ fast start and Flanagan reeling him in. Levins set a new personal best with his 1:01:05 performance. It would have stood as the new national record, but Flanagan improved it even more.

They improved on Jeff Schiebler’s 23-year-old Canadian record, which was 1:01:18. Earlier this year, Flanagan took down Paul McCloy’s 1987 Canadian 10K record by six seconds in Boston in 28:11. In that race, he passed through 8K in 22:31 which gives him the national best (not record) over the distance.

Interestingly, Levins had run 1:01:04 in a time trial or virtual race during the pandemic in April 2021. In January 2022, Rory Linkletter clocked a 1:01:08 in Houston, Texas.

Shortly after the race, Linkletter used social media to congratulate Flanagan and Levins and wrote, “Let’s break 61.”

Flanagan now holds two national records. Apparently, he loves the roads as he has that national 10K record at 28:11 and is a multi-time winner of the Falmouth Classic. His sweet spot seems to be the 10K/10,000m to the half marathon. With Levins holding the national marathon record at 2:07:09 perhaps that time can come down further as well if and when Flanagan debuts in the marathon.


Top-10 men

1. Kandie Kibiwott (KEN) – 58:10
2. Yomif Kejelcha (ETH) – 58:32
3. Daniel Kibet Mateiko – 58:40
4. Tadese Worku – 58:47
5. Kennedy Kimuati – 59:04
6. Sebastiean Kimaru Sawe – 59:04
7. Ronald Kiprotich Kirui – 1:00:10
8. Isaac Kipkemboi – 1:00:12
9. Edward Kimutai Cheserek – 1:00:14
10. Weldon Kipkirui Langat – 1:00:28

Top-10 women

1. Konstanze Klosterhalfen – 1:05:41
2. Tsigie Gebreselama – 1:05:46
3. Hawi Feysa Gejia – 1:06:00
4. Margaret Chelimo – 1:06:50
5. Magdalena Shauri – 1:07:09
6. Irne Kimais – 1:07:12
7. Purity Komen – 1:07:29
8. Yasemin Can – 1:07:46
9. Vicoty Chepngeno  – 1:07:55
10. Dorcas Kimeli – 1:08:16