Ethiopian athletes dominated the podium at the Valencia Marathon on Sunday as Sisay Lemma and Worknesh Degefa triumphed in men’s and women’s events, respectively.
Sisay set a course record of 2:01:48 to win the men’s event and move to fourth on the world all-time list and just seven seconds shy of Kenenisa Bekele’s national record.
“Once I passed the half marathon I realized that I was running at a record pace and that I had the strength to run and beat the race record,” Sisay said. “It was my first time in Valencia. I’m very happy to have beaten the record.”
Kenya’s Alexander Mutiso overtook Dawit Wolde of Ethiopia in the closing stages to take second place in a career-best of 2:03:11, with Dawit completing the podium in 2:03:48, also a PB.
Kenenisa finished fourth clocking 2:04:19, improving his own masters record (M40). The world 10,000m record-holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda had to settle for 37th place in 2:08:59 on his marathon debut.
Worknesh leads Ethiopian 1-2-3
In the women’s event, Worknesh Degefa led Ethiopian 1-2-3 and completed an Ethiopian double at the Valencia Marathon.
Almaz Ayana, Worknesh, and Hiwot Gebrekiden formed the leading pack along with Germany’s Melat Kejeta just after 10km.
Worknesh, returning to the marathon after almost four years following a double maternity leave, went on to win, crossing the finish line in 2:15:51. The finishing mark not only improved her previous career best of 2:17:41 but also took her to seventh on the women’s world all-time list.
“I enjoyed running here,” Worknesh said. “I am very happy with the result.”
Ayana took second place in a career-best of 2:16:22 while Hiwot completed an Ethiopian podium sweep in 2:17:59. Genzebe Dibaba dropped out of the race at the 27th kilometer.
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