The 43rd Edition of the Valencia Marathon: A Thrilling Race with Unexpected Outcomes

Sisay Lemma surprised everyone present and ended up breaking the record

by Sededin Dedovic
The 43rd Edition of the Valencia Marathon: A Thrilling Race with Unexpected Outcomes
© Aitor Alcalde / Getty Images

The 43rd edition of the marathon in Valencia took place in a way that surprised even the most experienced spectators. The race, held on Sunday, December 3, 2023, was expected to be a showdown between Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele and rising Ugandan star Joshua Cheptegei.

However, it was fellow Ethiopian and 2021 London Marathon winner Sisay Lemma who stole the show, taking victory in an impressive time of 2:01:48. The race started at a fast pace, set by Kenyan pacemaker Hilary Kipkoech. This fast pace led to the formation of a leading group consisting of Lemma, his compatriot Davit Wold and Kenyan Kandiwot Kandi.

As Kipkoech dropped out after kilometer 30, Wold took the lead and the trio surpassed the world record of 2:00:35 set by Kelvin Kiptum (Kenya) at the Chicago Marathon on October 8.

A broken record with a lot of luck

The race reached its peak in the final kilometers and Lemma made a decisive breakaway.

He crossed the finish line with a time of 2:01:48, just eclipsing the course record of 2:01:53 set by Kiptum last season. Lemma, who will turn 33 on December 12, earned 75,000 euros for first place, as well as 30,000 for the course record.

Bekele, despite being the world's most successful long-distance runner, finished a disappointing fourth in 2:04:19. Cheptegei, the 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder, fared even worse, finishing 37th in his marathon debut with a time of 2:08:59.

Great race by Degef and seventh place all time

In the women's race, Ethiopian women dominated the podium. Worknesh Degefa emerged victorious with a time of 2:15:51, placing her seventh on the all-time list. She beat Olympic 10,000 meter champion Almaz Ayana by 31 seconds.

Hivot Gebrekidan completed the Ethiopian race, finishing third in 2:17:59. The 43rd edition of the Valencia Marathon proved to be a well-organized event, with unexpected outcomes and exciting performances. Lema's win cemented his status as a rising star in the marathon world, while Bekele's performance came as a surprise. The Valencia Marathon lived up to its reputation as one of the fastest and most exciting marathons in the world.