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Evans Chebet and Peres Jepchirchir won their respective races at the 2020 Valencia Marathon on Sunday, Dec. 6. In so doing, they have added their names to the potential Tokyo Olympic team list.

Chebet won in the time of 2:03:00, while Jepchirchir, the half-marathon world record holder (women’s only race) dropped nearly seven minutes from her personal best to clock a 2:17:16.

Chebet’s time is the seventh fastest performance ever behind just five other athletes. He is the second-fastest active Kenyan behind only Eliud Kipchoge, the current world record holder with his 2:01:39.

Jepchirchir’s performance is the fifth-fastest all-time. The only active Kenyans ahead of her are world record holder Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:17:08).

Not to be discounted are Laurence Cherono with his 2:03:04 and Amos Kipruto who finished in 2:03:30. As usual, should any of the men decide to not run Tokyo or become injured, there is great depth available to selectors at Athletics Kenya.

Joyciline Jepkosgei ran 2:18:40, which puts her into the running of depth athletes for the distance-dominant country

Peres Jepchirchir

Peres Jepchirchir earned gold during the 2016 and 2020 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships.

Her personal best is a world-class 65:06, which she set on February 10th in 2017 in the United Arab Emirates. In 2020, she twice broke the half marathon record for a women’s only race. She did so once in September in Prague and again in October Gdynia, Poland, crossing the line in the time of 65:16, for that second World Championships win.

Jepchirchir Sunday improved on her previous personal best in the marathon, which was 2:23:50 from the Saitama International Marathon in Japan, which the 27-year-old ran one year ago. If anything, Saitama was not a performance indicative of her level of fitness, Valencia was.

Evans Chebet

Chebet’s career has waxed and waned over the past dozen years.

The now 32-year-old arrived on the scene in 2009 with an international-level half-marathon performance of 59:56. He made his marathon debut at the 2009 Amsterdam Marathon, finishing in 2:10:46. The following year, he again tried his hand at the marathon in Frankfurt clocking marginally better at 2:10:07. During 2011, he continued to finish in and around 2:10 with a Vienna City personal best of 2:09:22 followed by a less than ideal performance in Amsterdam in 2011, where he finished in tenth place in the time of 2:10:42.

His performances continued to decline running a 2:16:43 in Istanbul and a 2:11:26 at the JoongAng Seoul Marathon.

He turned his fortunes around a little in 2014 running a 2:08:17 Prague International Marathon and then a return to JoongAng to clocking a 2:07:46.

In 2016, at the Seoul International Marathon, Chebet ran a marathon performance indicative of his half-marathon time from 2009. His finished at 2:05:31 in Berlin.

After more than a decade of toiling in the marathon distance, Chebet finally produced a top-level performance. For Chebet, unlike his younger countrymen, who now seem to be able to run sub-2:05 at their first go, it was a decade-long battle for Kenyan credibility. Whatever he added to his training and perhaps footwear, seems to have worked well for him.

Athletics Kenya has a selection problem and it is a good problem to have.