Joshua Cheptegei To Make Marathon Debut In Valencia Sunday

The world record holder in the 5000m and 10,000m will use first marathon as learning experience

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This Sunday, December 3, 2023, the notoriously fast and flat Valencia Marathon is set to welcome a slew of talented marathoners

Among the decorated marathoners, one promising athlete will be making their debut in Valencia this weekend, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei.

Valencia Marathon is known as not just a fast and flat course but also has a history of being a strong race for debut athletes. The 2022 Valencia Marathon was the debut marathon for current world record holder Kelvin Kiptum, who ran an extraordinary time of 2:01:53.

2023 World Athletics Championships Day 2 Joshua Cheptegei after 10000m final
Photo Credit: Erik van Leeuwen

Cheptegei is the current world record holder in the 5000m (12:35.36) and the 10,000m (26:11.00) and also holds the world’s best time over 15k (41.05).

The 27-year-old NN Running Team athlete is the reigning Olympic champion in the 5000m and reigning three-time World Athletics Champion over 10,000m. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Cheptegei won both the 5000m and the 10,000m. In 2019, the Ugandan won the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

Despite an impressive resume, Cheptegei has yet to take on the marathon. Although he shows great promise to be an impressive marathoner, he is approaching the event with patience and humility, knowing it is a completely different challenge than his typical track races.

“I want to approach this marathon with a lot of respect,” he told the International Olympic Committee. “I know that there are still challenges…and everybody is built differently.”

2022 World Athletics Championships Day 3 Joshua Cheptegei
Photo Credit: Erik van Leeuwen

Speaking with COROS, Cheptegei explained why he chose Valencia to make his debut.

“I set two world records in Valencia: the 10k World Record in 2019, and I broke the 15-year-old record in the 10,000m in 2020 of Kenenisa Bekele. Valencia was for me of course the best choice, because in my opinion, it’s a venue that has proven to be highly successful for both track and road.”

Although he has pivoted towards the marathon, he says his journey on the track has not yet hit its end.

“I’m not done with the track. I’ve run for 10 years at the highest level on the track and cross-country. I see the switch to the marathon as a new adventure, which I am really excited about, and I look forward to seeing what the roads can bring me as a new challenge.” 

2022 World Athletics Championships Day 3 - 10000m men medallists : Stanley Waithaka Mburu, Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo
Photo Credit: Erik van Leeuwen

Although Cheptegei shows promise to be an extraordinary marathoner, as he holds a personal best in the half marathon of 59:21, he is approaching the marathon in Valencia as a learning opportunity and won’t be looking to break any records.

“I’m not looking at running fast times, because it is still a totally new distance for me, and I’m still learning also in all the training,” he said. “My successes came from consistency and patience. I will approach the Valencia Marathon in the same way.”

Running alongside Cheptegei this weekend at the Valencia Marathon include Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41), Kibiwott Kandie (2:13:43), and Gabriel Geay (2:03:00). Geay is the reigning runner-up from the 2022 Valencia Marathon.

The women’s field also boasts a number of high-profile athletes who have all achieved sub-2:20, including Tsehay Gemechu (2:16:56), Almaz Ayana (2:17:20), Worknesh Degefa (2:17:41), Joan Chelimo (2:18:04), and Hiwot Gebrekidan (2:19:10).

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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