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The end of the 2021 marathon season is nigh upon us and on Sunday, December 5 there will be three races to follow: Valencia, Fukuoka and Sacramento.

California International Marathon

Bruce Deacon, competing as a masters athlete in the Bazan Bay 5K.

While the California International Marathon (CIM) is a point-to-point, and net downhill race, runners love to challenge their personal bests at it. Americans trying to qualify for the Olympic or World Championship trials will attempt a time on the course. Otherwise, records, standards, and personal bests are accompanied with the dreaded *asterisk. Being a point-to-point race like the Boston Marathon, World Athletics does not recognise records or standards on the course, however, the USATF will accept times for their domestic trails.

Canadians especially enjoy taking in the race. There have been several Canadian winners over the years including two-time Olympian Bruce Deacon, who won the race twice. Peter Butler still owns the second-fastest time on the course with his 2:10:56. Peter Maher, Graeme Fell and Dylan Wykes have also won it. American Jerry Lawson is the current record holder at 2:10:27.

The current weather forecast looks nearly ideal with sun, partial clouds, and very little wind. It should start cool at 4C or (39F) and the day’s high will forecasted to be 17C (63F).

See the top-ranked male and female athletes at the CIM website.

Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship

The Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship is really a marathon with its own designation as a world championship race — the world championships take place during the World Athletics Track and Field Championships. The next installment takes place in Eugene 2022. They have held onto that moniker since the beginning back in. The race was previously the defacto championship for a long time and some legendary athletes have competed there.

See: Trailer for new running documentary on the history of Fukuoka>>

American Frank Shorter won the race four consecutive times (1971-1974). Canadian Jerome Drayton won it thrice, in 1969, 1975, and 1976. The great Toshiko Seko was champion for three consecutive years from 1978-1980 as well as a fourth win in 1983. The current course record is 2:05:18 by Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede from the 2009 running of the event.

For the 2021 running of the iconic marathon Yuta Shitara is the frontrunner going in with a personal best of 2:06:11 from Tokyo 2018. However, he will be challenged by at least three other 2:06-level Japanese athletes.

List of elite athletes is available here>>

Valencia Marathon

Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor, a former world half marathon record holder (58:01), is taking in the race. His best marathon happened in 2012 in Berlin where he finished in the time of 2:06:12. His half marathon best suggests a much faster marathon performance, perhaps in the 2:03 to 2:04-range.

A runner who has gone that fast is fellow Kenyan Lawrence Cherono with his 2:03:12 from the 2020 running of the Valencia Marathon. Expect the 33-year-old to challenge for the win. Amos Kipruto — yes, another Kenyan — finished second in that Valencia 2020 competition with his 2:03:30 finish time.

There are also some fast Ethiopians in the race including Mule Wasihun who ran London in 2019 in the time of 2:03:16, Getaneh Molla (Dubai 2019, 2:03:34), Kinde Atanaw (Valencia 2019, 2:03:51) and Andamlak Belihu who at 23-years-of-age is running his debut. Belihu has run the half-marathon in the time of 58:54.

In the women’s race, the goal time is to finish faster than 2:20:00 for the third year in a row. The field is fast and includes, Ethiopia’s Guteni Shone (2:20:11), Azmera Gebru (2:20:48) and Tadelech Bekele (2:21:40) as well as Kenya’s Bornes Chepkirui (2:21:26). Also in the race is Uganda’s Juliet Chekwel (2:23:13) and Ethiopia’s Rahma Tusa (2:23:46).

Apparently, Canadian Ben Preisner will try to better Cameron Levins‘ national record of 2:09:25 (Toronto, 2018). Preisner competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and owns the fourth-fastest Canadian time of 2:10:17. Fellow Canadian Justin Kent (2:17:22) is also in the race.

Although it is highly unlikely that any world records will be run in any of these three races (Brigid Kosgei 2:04:14, Eliud Kipchoge 2:01:39), there will be some very fast performances in Valencia, perhaps a new Japanese record in Fukuoka and several personal bests in Sacramento.