Athletics

Cherono and Jelagat win Valencia Marathon, Scores a Kenyan double.

Lawrence Cherono celebrates after winning the Valencia Marathon

Kenya’s Cherono and Jelagat win Valencia Marathon, they scored a Kenyan double as both powered to victories at Sunday’s Valencia Marathon in Spain.

Jelagat cut the tape in 2hrs, 19mins and 31secs to emerge victorious in the women’s race and setting a new personal best time while Cherono, second placed finisher of the race last year, won his race in 2hrs, 05mins, 12secs to add on another gold medal on his neck.

“It was a very tough race today because of the wind but I am glad to have won. I needed to push myself especially in the last 10km though it was tough. I’ve improved my PB by 14 minutes, so I can’t ask for more. This was my first time here in Valencia but I promise to come back,” an elated Jelagat said after the race.

When Cherono and Jelagat won in Valencia Marathon, Cherono was meanwhile elated after improving from second to first.

“I’m really pleased with my win. The conditions today were not ideal to get quick times but I enjoyed the race and I will be back to improve my time. I really had to dig deep to ensure I remained in contention,” said Cherono.

He was achieving a podium finish in a race for the 15th time out of the 18 marathons he has run in.

Meanwhile, three-time world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor finished fourth in his first race in two years. He was coming back from injury and was pleased with his finish.

He set a new Personal Best time of 2hrs, 05mins, 23secs.

Action from the Valencia Marathon

In the women’s race, the competition was off to a slow start due to the strong winds and the pacemakers led the field through 5km in 16:26 and 10km in 32:55, setting up the lead group for a sub-2:20 finish.

During the early stages, Jelagat, fellow Kenyan Bornes Chepkirui and Ethiopia’s Rahma Tusa ran closest to the pacemakers, also using them as shelter from the wind. The nine-woman lead group went through halfway in a promising 1:09:41, well inside their 2:20 target.

Over the second half, the lead pack whittled down progressively and by 30km only Jelagat and Etagegne Woldu remained in contention.

Although Woldu was making her marathon debut, and Jelagat started the race with a modest 2:33:56 best, the duo broke away easily from the rest of the more experienced field.

Shortly after 33km became the sole leader as 25-year-old Woldu could no longer match the pacemaker’s tempo. With incredibly even halves of 1:09:41 and 1:09:50, Jelagat crossed the line in 2:19:31, making a breakthrough in what was her 11th attempt at the distance.

Nancy Jelagat crosses the finish line at the Valencia Marathon

Dorcas Tuitoek was the only other Kenyan to finish in the top eight as she came home eighth.

Woldu finished second in 2:20:16, while fellow debutante Degefa completed the podium in 2:23:04.

In the men’s race, it was a case of similar challenges as they also battled to keep steady pace with the strong winds.

After splits of 14:44 and 29:27 for the 5km and 10km, Kamworor who was one of the pre-race favourites fell off the leading group which included Cherono, fellow Kenyan Norbert Kigen, Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay and Ethiopians Kinde Atanaw, Chalu Deso, Herpasa Negasa.

The leading pack crossed the halfway line in 1:02:18, erasing any hopes of breaking the 2:03:00 course record.

By then, Kamworor was 44 seconds adrift of the leaders. By the 30km mark, the chasing pack which also included Kamworor’s training partner Philemon Kacheran had reduced the gap between them and the front runners.

Once the pacemakers dropped out with about eight kilometres remaining, the contest became a four-man fight between Cherono, Atanaw, Deso and Geay.

Shortly after the 38th kilometre, Deso opened a slight gap over the rest but the trio managed to regain contact with the Ethiopian. Meanwhile Kacheran and Kamworor continued to close in on the leading quartet.

Lawrence Cherono crosses the finish line at the Valencia Marathon

Thanks to a 29:52 10km effort between 30km and 40km, Kacheran caught the leading quartet and by the 40km point he led with only Cherono and Deso for company.

Atanaw and Geay, meanwhile, lost ground and were overtaken by Kamworor who was just three seconds in arrears and looked poised to catch the leaders, but Kacheran pushed again and left Kamworor trailing.

In a thrilling final effort, Cherono unleashed a strong kick to break away from Kacheran and Deso, crossing the line in a season’s best of 2:05:12.

Deso came through to take second place in 2:05:16, three seconds ahead of Kacheran, who broke his PB by 46 seconds. Two-time New York City winner Kamworor finished just shy of the podium in fourth, but his 2:05:23 clocking was a 49-second improvement on the PB he set on his marathon debut back in 2012.

-Additional information courtesy World Athletics

Also, Read: Kamworor aims at Valencia Marathon victory for a positive return

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