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It was the informant code-named Deep Throat during the Watergate scandal in June 1972 who coined the phrase “follow the money.”

Twenty-nine-year-old Edward Cheserek claims that the reason why he moved off the track and into the marathon distance was due to feeling he lost speed. Maybe. But the reality is that the marathon pays more than the track distances from 800 metres to 10,000m. This is likely why Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda, the current world record holder in the 5000m (12:35:36) and 10,000m (26:17:00) is running the Valencia Marathon. Money. He ran the records in 2020 and moved up to the half-marathon distance that same year clocking a 59:21 performance. The half-marathon performance is not a world record but is a fast performance.

Money motivation is perfectly acceptable

And the money motivation is perfectly acceptable. Professional athletes in the NHL, NBA, NFL, Premier League, MLB, and other pro leagues sign with new teams or to different leagues all the time as they follow the money. The motivation is well-documented and accepted. It is a rare occurrence for a player to turn down a significant increase in pay for the betterment of the current team. The most noteworthy may be when Wayne Gretzky signed with the Los Angeles Kings in 1988. He was making so much in endorsements at the time, that the player contract was dwarfed and therefore it allowed him to suggest he be paid less. The idea was to keep Bernie Nicholls, another good player, to help the team compete for the Stanley Cup.

Cheserek told the Kenyan publication Pulse Sports, “I’ve been running on the track for a long time and I felt like I was losing my speed. I decided that it was the best option to slowly move back and switch to the roads.

“I started with the 5K and 10K and I noticed that I was running a bit slower. It wasn’t like back in the day when I used to run in the 800m and 5000m.”

Au contraire. His 800m personal best pales in comparison to his other bests, having just run 1:49.98 “back in the day” in 2012. His 1500m best is better, but still not at the level of his performances over longer distances at 3:36.50 set in 2014. Cheserek ran the mile in 2011 in just 4:03.29. He was young at 18-20, back then — fast for his age.

Fast forward to 2019 and 2020, he clocked 13:04.44 for the 5000m and 27:23.58 in the 10,000m. In comparison, his 800m best garners 1027 World Athletics points. He earned 1193 and 1185 points in the two longer-distance races. In 2023, he ran the half-marathon in 59:11 and the New York City Marathon in 2:11:07 which are valued at 1219 and 1142 points, respectively. If Cheserek decided to run a fast marathon course for his debut like Berlin, Valencia or Chicago, he would have likely run a few minutes faster. Perhaps a 2:06 to 2:08, which would match his half-marathon performance.

There was nearly $900,000 awarded to the top finishers in New York. The winners of the men’s and women’s divisions received $100,000 USD each.

The following prize money does not include time bonuses, record bonuses or potential appearance fees. In addition to prize purses. Athletes are looking for endorsement contracts with big shoe and apparel manufacturers or any other brand wishing to benefit from the notoriety provided by supporting a professional athlete. To run well in one of the six Marathon Majors or other noteworthy marathons is collateral in negotiations between an agent and a corporation.

It was Cuba Gooding Junior’s character Rod Tidwell an NFL player with the Cardinals who would demand, “Show me the money,” from the movie Jerry Maguire from 1996.

While the aforementioned leagues have players who literally will ask to be shown the money, distance runners hold little power in the game of negotiations who are not named Eliud Kipchoge, or Paula Radcliffe when she was at the top of her game. Take the prize money out of the marathon and there won’t be any world-beaters beating down the event’s door. There is no shame, as athletes commit to massive workloads to get near a conversation about money. It’s accepted.

Top 13 men’s results and prize money

1Tamirat TolaETH2:04:58$100,000
2Albert KorirKEN2:06:57$60,000
3Shura KitataETH2:07:11$40,000
4Abdi NageeyeNED2:10:21$25,000
5Koen Naert BEL2:10:25$15,000
6Maru TeferiISR2:10:28$10,000
7Iliass AouaniITA2:10:54$7,500
8Edward CheserekKEN2:11:07$5,000
9Jemal YimerETH2:11:31$2,500
10Futsum ZienasellassieUSA2:12:09$2,000
11Elkanah KibetUSA2:12:23
12Hendrik PfeifferGER2:12:53
13Sydney GidabudayUSA2:14:34

While $5000 is not going to change the life of an American athlete, it is likely more than he would get in any track race running over 13 or 27 minutes.

KingChezz, as he has been nicknamed by the running community, is a 17-time NCAA champion. The 29-year-old former Kenyan is legendary in the university and college system. He competed for the Oregon Ducks, and the natural progression is to make a name for one’s self in a specific distance or just move up to the marathon to make a go of it. His debut at 2:11:07 on the rolling, New York City Marathon is solid. His next step will be to run a fast marathon or a global championships, so to promote the Skechers brand, which he is currently under contract with. KingChezz is a great athlete with the potential to roll with the best in the world. Only time will tell whether he ends up hearing his agent yell, “help me, help you,” by running repeated sub-2:08 (the current Olympic qualifying time is sub-2:08:10).

Valencia prize purse

The Valencia Marathon will take place on Sunday, December 3.

Web site: https://www.valenciaciudaddelrunning.com/en/marathon/regulations-42k-2023/

Prize money: Up to 417,000 Euros ($446,000 USD) depending on finish times. See prize page.

First place male: 75,000 Euros ($80,366 USD) if under 2:04:30. Prizes 12 deep. First Spaniard 5,000 Euros; first member of Valencia Athletics Federation 2,000 Euros.

First place female: 75,000 Euros ($80,366 USD) if under 2:20:00. Prizes 12 deep. First Spaniard 5,000 Euros; first member of Valencia Athletics Federation 2,000 Euros.

Bonuses: ER (M/F): 30,000 Euros; WR $250 Euros; Spanish record 25,000 Euros.

*Featured photo from Michael Scott photography 2023, screen capture from Embedded X tweet/posting.

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