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Kamworor faces tough test on fast course in Valencia

Written by 
Published in Athletics
Thursday, 02 December 2021 05:47
Kenyan leads strong line-up in the marathon on Sunday and judging by past results we are likely to see some very fast times

Geoffrey Kamworor believes he can break the world marathon record in future and possibly dip inside two hours. This Sunday (Dec 5) should offer clues as to whether he’s correct when he takes on a strong field on a super-fast course in Valencia.

The Maraton Valencia Trinidad Alfonso EDP takes place in a Spanish city that has hosted a number of record-breaking distance running performances lately. Before he thinks about getting close to Eliud Kipchoge’s world marathon record of 2:01:39, though, Kamworor must first win the race – and it won’t be an easy task.

Kamworor’s marathon best is “only” 2:06:12 but that dates back to 2012. In recent years he has focused on the New York City Marathon – which has no pacemakers and a slowish course – and which he has won in 2017 and 2019.

Kamworor is also a former world cross-country winner and has a good record in Valencia, as he won his third world half-marathon title in the city in 2018. When it comes to marathon potential, he will no doubt be comparing his fitness to training partner Kipchoge – as they are coached by the same man, Patrick Sang – although the 28-year-old is also on the comeback from a car accident last year.

“I have big dreams and ambitions in the marathon and want to run as fast as possible and break barriers,” he says. “Valencia will be ready to help us push our limits on race day and I am sure it will be amazing.”

Facing him in the marathon on Sunday are fellow Kenyan Lawrence Cherono, a former winner of the Boston and Chicago marathons with a best time of 2:03:04, which makes him the fastest in the field.

There is also Kinde Atanaw of Ethiopia, who won the Valencia Marathon in 2019 in 2:03:51 and was poised to run in London in October but had to withdraw after a positive Covid test.

Lawrence Cherono

In addition there is Herpasa Negasa of Ethiopia, who has a best of 2:03:51, another Ethiopian, Chalu Deso, who has a PB of 2:04:53, Tanzanian 2:04:55 man Gabriel Geay and Sondre Moen of Norway – the latter of whom held the European record until 2019.

Altogether there are three men who have run sub-2:04:00 and eight who have broken 2:06:00, which makes Kamworor only the 10th fastest in the field based on PBs.

The women’s field is not quite as strong, but is led by 2:20 performers Guteni Shone and Asmera Gebru of Ethiopia plus 2:21 runners Bornes Chepkirui of Kenya and Bedatu Hirpa of Ethiopia. Watch out too for Nancy Jelagat, who has a 65:21 half-marathon PB.

Sonia Samuels, Alice Wright and Norman Shreeve are among almost 500 British runners in the race, although the 16,000-strong field is of course dominated by more than 9000 runners from Spain. Samuels has a best of 2:28:04 but is now 42, whereas the US-based Wright is aiming to finish her first marathon.

There is a strong Irish contingent too which includes 2:26:47 runner Fionnuala McCormick, who ambitiously plans to run the European Cross Country Championships seven days later in Dublin.

The race is also taking place for the 41st time. The first race in 1981 was won by Teodoro Perez in a modest 2:57:55 with Nuria de Miguel the first woman home in 3:20:50.

After those humble beginnings the winning times began to improve rapidly, though, and in 1984 Vicente Anton won in 2:14:01 and the women’s winner Juana Pablos Acosta was inside three hours with 2:57:28.

Now in the era of super-shoes, the last four editions have been won in 2:05:15 (Sammy Kithara), 2:04:31 (Leul Gebresilase), 2:03:51 (Atanaw) and 2:03:00 (Evans Chebet) in an elite-only race minus the masses in 2020.

The last two women’s title, meanwhile, have gone to Roza Dereje in 2:18:30 in 2019 and Peres Jepchirchir with 2:17:16 in 2020. The latter of course went on to win the Olympic title this year.

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