2023 Valencia Marathon

Big Moments at The Valencia Marathon And Four Takeaways

Big Moments at The Valencia Marathon And Four Takeaways

Fast times, crazy depth and some major ramifications ahead of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in February.

Dec 4, 2023 by Cory Mull

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The Valencia Marathon has come and gone, leaving a trail of storylines and talking points. 

Below, we offer the top four takeaways from the race. 

Lemma Earn That Win

After a crazy first half that went through a shade over an hour (60 minutes and 35 seconds), Sisay Lemma, 32, who last won the London Marathon in 2021, held on the best of anyone in the field and finished in 2 hours, 1 minute and 48 seconds. That performance was the fourth-fastest in history and led six men under 2:05, 14 under 2:06, 17 under 2:07 and 28 under 2:08.

Depth, Depth, Depth

There was no lack of speed here on the women's side of things. Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa took the tape in a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 51 seconds, clocking the seventh-fastest women's marathon on record. She's now the third runner in 2023 to clock a sub-2:16, following the likes of Tigist Assefa, who ran the world record of 2:11.53 in Berlin and Sifan Hassan, who clocked a time of 2:13.44 in Chicago.

Three women broke 2:18, while a total of 18 went under 2:25.

A Tough Marathon Debut

The first time isn't always a charm, and that was especially so for Joshua Cheptegei, who was on his debut. 

The Ugandan held the 5K and 10K world records with times of 12:35.36 and 26:11.0, but he found the second half of Valencia to be challenging, dropping pace over the final 13.1 miles to finish in 2:08.59 after he was in the lead group through the first half in 60:35.

American Marathon Intrigue

This storyline was important for its ramifications. With no top American competing in the race and the U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon approaching in February, every result matters. 

And with two automatic Olympic spots already claimed by Conner Mantz and Clayton Young via their performances at Chicago -- each reached the Olympic standard -- that left the next American on the Road to Paris points table in limbo. 

Scott Fauble, who currently sits at No. 66, isn't guaranteed an entry, as he sits outside the guaranteed 64 spots for the Olympic marathon, though he will be the most likely athlete selected to compete if the U.S. only gets two automatic selections. 

That matters, because if someone else not named Mantz or Young or Fauble wins or finishes among the top three at the U.S. Olympic Trials, they might not be guaranteed a spot on the Olympic team. LetsRun reported that USATF's language around their selection criteria may only honor the Road to Paris points table and not the U.S. Trials results.