On Sunday morning in Valencia, Evans Chebet of Kenya ran a two-minute personal best and the sixth-fastest time in marathon history, to win the marathon and set the course record. His 2:03:00 was highly calculated. Chebet sat behind the second-place finisher, Lawrence Cherono, for the final 2K, only passing him with 300 metres to go. Cherono finished just four seconds behind Chebet, also running a huge personal best of 2:03:04. Third place went to Birhanu Legese of Ethiopia in 2:03:16, slightly behind his personal best of 2:02:48, which he ran at Berlin in 2019.
— David Monti (@d9monti) December 6, 2020
While Chebet was among the 14 men on the start list who’d run under 2:06 before, he was certainly not called as a favourite to win. In fact, by most predictions, he wasn’t even considered to be in the mix. While the runner’s old personal best of 2:05:00 was run in the last year, his 1:01:59 half-marathon personal best certainly didn’t point to a 2:03:00 marathon (and a big win on top of that).
Chebet beat Legese, who owns the third-fastest marathon mark of all time. He also beat Cherono, who won Boston and Chicago in 2019. He also beat Lelisa Desisa, one of the most consistent marathoners on the circuit right now (he’s also the reigning world champion).
More history in Valencia: Evans Chebet outkicks Lawrence Cherono to win, 2:03:00 to 2:03:04. Chebet now 6th all-time, Cherono 7th.
Birhanu Legese third in 2:03:16, Amos Kipruto fourth in 2:03:33. Making this the first race in history with four men under 2:04:00. pic.twitter.com/nGUDRQ2DmZ
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) December 6, 2020
The Valencia course is obviously fast. After seeing a world record in the half-marathon (where the top four broke the old mark), the marathon becomes the first race to see four men run under 2:04:00 at one time.