Ethiopian women bag all podium spots at Valencia Marathon

In the women’s race, Dereje clocked 2:18:30 to move up to No. 8 on the all-time world list

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Ethiopian Roza Dereje produced an impressive victory at the Valencia Marathon, a World Athletics Gold Label road race, in the eastern Spanish city on Sunday.

In the women’s race, Dereje clocked 2:18:30 to move up to No. 8 on the all-time world list while pulling the next three finishers under 2:19, the first time four women have broken that barrier in the same race.

The early pace in the race was ambitious with Kenya’s Purity Rionoripo plus the Ethiopian pair of Workenesh Edesa and Dereje going through 10 kilometres in 32:33. Meanwhile, pre-race favourite Vivian Cheruiyot proved to be a bit more conservative but even so the Kenyan ace clocked 32:47 running with Ethiopia’s Birhane Dibaba.

Cheruiyot and Dibaba caught the leading pack at 15 kilometres (49:12) before reaching the half in 1:09:18, well inside the race record schedule with Ethiopia’s Azmera Abreha, a 2:21:51 performer, running alone another 22 seconds behind.

The leading quintet covered 30 kilometres in 1:38:36 while behind them Abreha cut their lead to nine seconds. Shortly afterwards, first Rionoripo and then Edesa began to drift back and were easily overtaken by Abreha.

At 40 kilometres, Dereje led in 1:55:04 alongside Dibaba, with Cheruiyot one second adrift and Abreha, who finally joined the trio, for company. From there, Dereje began to step up her pace to open a sizeable margin on Cheruiyot and Dibaba. But Abreha kept up the pressure.

Dereje, who was third in this year’s London Marathon, kept her compatriot at bay to finish in 2:18:30, improving her lifetime best by 47 seconds to break into the all-time top-10. Abreha was next in 2:18:33, a massive 3:18 improvement for the 21-year-old.

Dereje, who managed her second victory on Spanish soil this year following her 1:06:01 career best to win the Barcelona half marathon in February, said, “I love the city of Valencia and its course. I’m doubly happy as I broke the race record and also improved my career best.”

In a race of astounding depth, Dibaba was third in a personal best 2:18:46 and Cheruiyot fourth in 2:18:51. Zeineba Yimer was fifth in 2:19:27 – only five women had run faster this year prior to this race.

Results: 1 Roza Dereje (ETH) 2:18:30, 2 Azmera Abreha (ETH) 2:18:33, 3 Birhane Dibaba (ETH) 2:18:46, 4 Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) 2:18:51, 5 Zeineba Yimer (ETH) 2:19:27, 6 Workenesh Edesa (ETH) 2:20:24, 7 Purity Rionoripo (KEN) 2:20:39, 8 Abeba Gebremeskel (ETH) 2:22:29, 9 Tadelech Bekele (ETH) 2:22:53, 10 Priscah Jeptoo (KEN) 2:24:16.

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