Kelvin Kiptum bids goodbye his Valencia Marathon course record

Kenya's Kelvin Kiptum lunges to the finish line as he wins men's elite race at 2023 London Marathon in London. [Xinhua]

World men's marathon record breaker Kelvin Kiptum’s course record in Valencia Marathon tumbled in a blistering contest on Sunday.

It was at the Spanish race last December that Kiptum got people talking eyebrows after running a sensational 2:01:53 in his marathon debut.

But yesterday, Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma – the 2021 London Marathon winner, powered to a hard-fought victory, shattering Kibiwott Kandie's and Joshua Cheptegei’s dreams of shining in the 42km contest.

Kandie is a towering figure in Valencia, having claimed three half marathon victories at the Spanish city, and was hoping to produce a similar script in yesterday's competition, but he came in sixth.

The former half marathon record holder reclaimed the Valencia 21km title in 2022, and in October this year, he successfully defended it.

Marathon debutant, Cheptegei - the 10,000m world record holder on the other hand was hoping to convert his fast times on the track to an impressive performance in 42km.

The duo was in the Spanish city with the hand of history on his shoulders, but Lemma proved too strong for them.

Lemma won the race in 2:01:48, shaving five seconds off Kiptum’s one-year-old course record.

Prague Marathon champion Alexander Mutiso of Kenya finished second in a surprise show.

Mutiso had posted 2:03:29 when he placed third at the 2022 Valencia Marathon, and moved a place up in yesterday’s contest.

He ran 2:03:10 ahead of third-placed, Ethiopian star Dawit Wolde who crossed the finish line 2:03:48. He ran 19 seconds faster in yesterday's race.

Kandie, who was among the race favourites, momentarily took the lead at the Valencia City Council Square, with Lemma and compatriot, Wolde chasing.

The men were on an under 2:01 pace at 20km, and Kelvin Kiptum's course record was under threat from the early stages of the race.

Alongside Cheptegei and Kandie, former Milano Marathon champion Titus Kipruto and Tanzanian Gabriel Geay were among top contenders in the leading pack.

The World Half Marathon silver medallist has won Valencia Half Marathon three times, shattering the 21km World Record in 2020, a 57:32 mark which lowered in 2021 by one second by Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo.

Valencia Marathon is known for its fast course. Marathon record breaker, Kiptum and Ethiopia's Amane Beriso won the 2022 edition in 2:01:53 and 2:14:58 respectively, establishing the course records.

Kiptum went ahead to set the London Marathon course record in April before breaking the 42km world record in another jaw-dropping race in Chicago, on October 8.

Ethiopian athletes dominated the women’s marathon, producing a clean podium sweep.

Celestine Chepchirchir of Kenya finished fourth in a remarkable 2:20:46.

Former Boston Marathon champion Worknesh Degafa claimed the women’s title, while Almaz Ayana, the Olympic and World 10,000m gold medallist, who controlled the lead from the start, came in second. Their compatriot Hiwot Gebrekidan closed the podium finish.

Meanwhile, David Barmasai Tumo and Rose Chelimo of Kenya claimed top spots at the Singapore Marathon as Michael Githae took the Fukuoka Marathon title.

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