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The Valencia Half Marathon taking place Sunday offers an elite field like few other distance races. The course is fast and the organizers want world-class results. As long as the weather holds as forecasted, that is indeed what they will get.
Rhonex Kipruto, Muktar Edris, and Rodgers Kwemoi are three of the top names in the men’s field, while Letesenbet Gidey and Yalemzerf Yehualaw will go head to head in the women’s race. New world records are potentially in the offing.
Kipruto earned a bronze medal at the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships in the 10,000-metre event. The winner was Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda who clocked the time of 26:48.36. Taking second was Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha in 26:49.34. Kipruto, a 22-year-old Kenyan owns a best of 26:50.16. He has run even faster on the road. And it was in Valencia where he clocked a 26:24 in 2020. Expect him to challenge for the win.
Edris does not have the results as fast as Kipruto does in terms of personal bests, but he knows how to win having taken gold in the 2017 London and 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships in the 5000m event. If it comes down to a race to the line, he will be tough to beat.
Kwenboi could be a factor. The 24-year-old two-time Commonwealth Games bronze medallist won the Tilburg Ten Miles, in 2016 and 2017. His 5000m and 10,000m bests again don’t compete with Kipruto’s, however, they date back to when he was just 19 years of age. Perhaps he is in better form today. If you are an elite athlete looking to make money and improve your bests, Valencia is an event where you take a well-tuned Ferrari Testarossa, not a Honda Civic — so he should be in great shape.
Organisers wrote that “they will be joined by several sub-59-minute runners over the distance and some world-class debutants from the track.”
Letesenbet Gidey, it was recently announced, has moved over to Jos Hermen’s NN Running Team, which includes Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele among others. They only want the best. Although Gidey didn’t seem to have the kick in Tokyo, she has run some select performances that are absolutely world-class. Her form is textbook-like and near perfect.
The 23-year-old Ethiopian has won five World Cross Country Championships gold medals. She has medalled at both the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Gidey’s 15K best is the fastest in the world, all-time at 44:20 from 2019.
She also owns the 5000m and 10,000m world records at 14:06.62 and 29:01.03. Both performances are outliers. Expect her to execute on the win and potentially take down the world half-marathon record of 64:02, which is owned by Kenyan Ruth Chepng’etich set in Istanbul earlier this year.
The Valencia Half Marathon website adds, “alongside her, the last two winners of the event, Genzebe Dibaba (1:05:18 in 2020) and Senbere Teferi (1:05:32 in 2019 and 5K record with 14:29),” are in the race too.