Although the major international marathons of 2021 have come and gone, the Valencia Marathon in Spain has become an end-of-season hotspot for many elites, due to its fast course, deep field and favourable weather. This Sunday, two of Canada’s top marathoners, Ben Preisner and Justin Kent, will toe the start line, in hopes of breaking their personal best times.
Last December, both runners set massive personal bests at The Marathon Project, held in Chandler, Ariz. Preisner ran the fourth-fastest time ever by a Canadian male (2:10:17), and Kent made his marathon debut, running 2:17:22. At the Toyko Olympics, Preisner was the top Canadian male, finishing 46th, on a hot, humid day in Sapporo, and in October he finished third at the Canadian 10K road championships in Toronto, running 28:53. Kent has also had a fantastic season, achieving personal best times in the 5K, 10K, and half-marathon.
Preisner, whose marathon best time is only a minute off of Cam Levins’s Canadian record of 2:09:25, has a shot at Canadian history on Sunday. “I was originally supposed to be on the start line for NYC, but I realized it would have been too quick of a turnaround from the Olympics,” says Preisner. “The Valencia Marathon made sense for both Justin and me.” Preisner and Kent started training together after the Olympics, when Preisner decided to move out to Vancouver to join Richard Lee’s BC Endurance Project.
Although Preisner says there is no goal time planned for Sunday, he notes that his sub-29-minute 10K time in Toronto was a good indicator for him that his speed is coming along. “My training has been going well as planned, and I’ve been able to stack better-quality workouts this time around in comparison to my build for last year’s Marathon Project,” says Preisner.
His personal best time of 2:10:17 that he ran last December has given him the World Championship qualifying standard for 2022. “I am excited about the competitiveness of the Valencia field,” Preisner says. “The main goal for both of us in Valencia is to set a new personal best.”
Other notable elites who will be in Valencia are two-time NYC Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya (with a PB of 2:06:12); 2019 Boston and Chicago marathon champ Lawrence Cherono of Kenya (2:03:04); and Kinde Atanaw of Ethiopia, who won this race in 2019 in 2:03:51, and planned to run the 2021 London Marathon until testing positive for COVID-19 a few days before the race.
The Valencia Marathon is held annually in the historic Spanish city of Valencia, which is an entirely flat circuit, and which has perfect November temperatures averaging between 12-17 C,. The race will start Sunday at 2:30 am ET or 8:30 a.m. local time. You can see the full list of elites for Valencia here.