Joshua Cheptegei in road race action (© Getty Images)
World 5000m and 10,000m record-holder Joshua Cheptegei will make his marathon debut at the Valencia Marathon Trinidad Alfonso, a World Athletics Platinum Label road race, on 3 December.
The Ugandan 26-year-old, who has won the past two world 10,000m titles and claimed the Olympic 5000m crown in Tokyo, has fond memories of Valencia as he set two of his world records in the Spanish city – the former world 10km record of 26:38 in 2019 and the current world 10,000m record of 26:11.00 in 2020.
“I feel it is time to expand my horizon. I have been running on the track for 10 years now,” said Cheptegei, who recently ran the seventh-fastest 5000m of all time, behind his own world record of 12:35.36, when finishing second to Berihu Aregawi in a thrilling clash at the Lausanne Diamond League meeting.
“I always had full focus on the track distances, while I knew the marathon was waiting for me. It is an ambition that I am really excited to go for, it will be new and challenging.
“For next year my focus will be on the track at the Paris Olympic Games, but hopefully my marathon debut will be a good experience and then I can decide after the Olympic Games what my next steps will be.”
Cheptegei's experience over longer distances so far includes two half marathons, a discipline in which he boasts a 59:21 personal best from the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in 2020.
As well as his 12:41.61 5000m in Lausanne, Cheptegei has finished fourth in the 5000m at the Diamond League meeting in Florence, placed second at the United Airlines NYC Half and claimed bronze at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Bathurst this year, as he works towards the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in August.
Last year’s Valencia Marathon Trinidad Alfonso was won by Kelvin Kiptum and Amane Beriso in respective course records of 2:01:53 and 2:14:58 – times that moved them both to third place on the men’s and women’s all-time lists. Kiptum has since improved to 2:01:25 – just 16 seconds off the world record – in London.