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Valencia Marathon boasts deepest field ever

Sunday's race is going to be extremely entertaining

Joyciline Jepkosgei Photo by: Run Czech

The Valencia Marathon is set to be run on Sunday, and the men’s and women’s fields won’t just be the strongest of the year, but quite possibly the strongest ever. LetsRun.com looked at the race start lists and compared them to past major marathons, and they all pale in comparison to the Valencia lineups, which are absolutely stacked. After missing much of the season, so many of the world’s top runners were looking for a fast race to enter before the end of 2020, and while the Valencia Marathon isn’t listed as a world major, it’s certainly got the star power of one this year. 

The men’s field 

The men’s lineup is headlined by Ethiopians Birhanu Legese, whose PB of 2:02:48 is the third-fastest marathon time in history, and Kinde Atanaw, who has a PB of 2:03:51. They’re the only two men in the Valencia field to have run under 2:04, but they’re followed by seven runners with sub-2:05 results to their names, including former Boston Marathon champions Lawrence Cherono (2:04:06) of Kenya and Lelisa Desisa (2:04:45) of Ethiopia. In total, there are nine men under 2:05 racing in Valencia, beating out the fields from the London Marathon in 2015 and 2019, two years that saw eight sub-2:05 runners. 

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Another five men have run under 2:06 before, nine more own sub-2:07 PBs and two have bests under 2:08. This brings the total of sub-2:08 runners in the field to a whopping 25, which beats the 2019 Boston Marathon‘s previous best of 15. In addition to these 25 sub-2:08 runners, another 26 men have PBs under the Olympic standard of 2:11:30. This field is so deep, and there will be exciting racing from the lead pack, where the top runners will fight for the win, all the way back to the 2:11 pack as Olympic hopefuls give everything they have to reach standard. 

The women’s field 

The women’s side is also super deep, and like the men’s field, the women are led by a pair of Ethiopians in Ruti Aga and Birhane Dibaba. With PBs separated by just one second, Aga (2:18:34) and Dibaba (2:18:35) sit at 12th- and 13th-best of all time, respectively. They’re the lone women under 2:19, but several runners aren’t far behind with sub-2:20 and sub-2:21 PBs, including American Jordan Hasay (whose PB of 2:20:57 is the second-fastest in U.S. history). These eight women under 2:21 match the 2019 London Marathon field that saw a similarly quick top echelon of runners.

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In total, there are 19 women set to race in Valencia who own sub-2:25 PBs, which is better than the previous best of 12 (Tokyo Marathon in 2019 and 2020, Boston Marathon in 2019). There are also six women outside of that 2:25 range who have run under the Olympic standard of 2:29:30, although they’re quite spread out. While runners in the men’s race will have plenty of people to work with no matter where they rank, that might not be the case for the women, some of whom might have to commit to running much faster than their PBs (such as the 2:26 runners looking to hang onto the sub-2:25 group) to avoid running solo.