Boston Marathon champion Cherono excited by Valencia invite

Monday, October 26th, 2020 00:00 |
Lawrence Cherono wins the 2019 edition of Boston Marathon. Photo/PD/FILE

Boston Marathon champion Lawrence Cherono can heave a sigh of relief after he was named among elite athletes set to take part in the Valencia Marathon on December 6. 

Cherono agonisingly watched as two races he was looking forward to competing in 2020, including the Olympics, were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Boston Marathon that was to be held in April was cancelled before the Chicago Marathon suffered the same fate leaving the 32-year-old Cherono in the cold.

“It has been a long wait for me and I am happy because finally there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Waiting for a whole year to compete is torture but we can’t blame anyone because this was due to the virus,”Cherono told People Sport.

Cherono, who shifted his training base to Iten from Kaptagat after the camp was closed in compliance with the Kenyan government’s coronavirus guidelines, said that he has been training in anticipation for a chance to compete before the year ends.

“After the two races were cancelled, I was disappointed but went on with my training.

Today, I can smile because I have been named as one of the participants in the Valencia Marathon,” he said.

The Valencia Marathon organisers have selected a strong team that comprises Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese (2:02:48) who is the third fastest man in the distance behind Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia’ Kenenisa Bekele.

Also on the list is the defending champion Kinde Atanaw (2:03:51), Turkey’s Kaan Kigen (2:04:16) and Lelisa Desisa (2:04:45) who is also the world marathon champion.

“If you look at the starting list, the Ethiopians have very good times and that tells you the race will be tough.

I still have two months to prepare for the race and I’m looking forward to a good race,” added Cherono.

Legese (2:02:48, third best time in marathon history) and Kinde Atanaw, winner last year and current record holder for the Valencian course, are two of the athletes to watch out for.

The  European record holder Kaan Kigen Özbilen and the world champion Desisa (2h04:45), will be among the Platinum and Gold athletes who will meet in the race.

The athletes will also include several world champions at the distance and winners of different majors in recent years, as well as other debutantes at the 42,195m course such as Jemal Yimer.

In 2015, Cheronowon the Seville Marathon in Spain, clocking 2:09:39 before he finished second in the Hong Kong Marathon in 2:12:14.

In 2016, he won the Prague Marathon in 2:07:24 before closing the season with a win in the Honolulu Marathon in 2:09:39.

He was second in the Rotterdam Marathon in 2017 after timing 2:06:21 before winning the Amsterdam Marathon where he clocked 2:05:09. He also defended the Honolulu Marathon that year with a course record of 2:08:27.

In 2018, he had a shot at the World Marathon Majors in London, but a hamstring injury slowed him down in the second part of the race and he eventually finished seventh in 2:09:25. Kipchoge won the race.

Cherono later that year retained his Amsterdam Marathon title in a course record of 2:04:06.

The list of female starters will include Ethiopians Ruti Aga (2h18:34), Birhane Dibaba (2h18:35), Zeineba Yimer (2h19:28), Tigist Girma (2h19:52) and Mare Dibaba (2h19:52), all who finished  the Valencia Marathon with times under two hours and 20 minutes. 

The American Jordan Hasay (2:20:57) and the debutante Fancy Chemutai are other big names, in addition to Joyciline Jepkosgei (2:22:38), who won in New York in her premiere and she already knows what it is to win in Valencia, where she achieved the world record in a half marathon in 2017. 

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