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Eliud Kipchoge believes Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei can break marathon world record

Cheptegei holds the world record over 5,000m and 10,000m and will tackle the marathon distance for the first time on Sunday in Valencia

Cheptegei 2023 worlds Photo by: Kevin Morris

On Sunday at the 2023 Valencia Marathon, Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, who holds the world record in both the 5,000m and 10,000m, will make his long-awaited marathon debut. Ahead of his debut, Cheptegei has garnered high praise from perhaps the greatest marathoner in history, Eliud Kipchoge. 

Joshua Cheptegei World Championship 2022
Photo: Kevin Morris

In an interview with BBC Sport Africa, Kipchoge said he believes Cheptegei could break the marathon world record: “He is already a record holder in other fields, and has a huge chance to break a world record in the marathon,” Kipchoge said. The double Olympic marathon champion further complimented Cheptegei’s willingness to learn and succeed, acknowledging the discipline that has led Cheptegei to Olympic gold, world records and multiple world championship titles.

According to NN Running Team, despite Cheptegei’s previous success on the track and Valencia’s course (which is known to be fast), he says he’s not specifically aiming for the marathon world record, but hopes to run a fast time under 2:04. “What would make a perfect race for me in Valencia is to learn and experience the marathon,” Cheptegei said on his debut. “I am not looking to run a fast time, because it is a new distance for me, and I want to learn. The best for me would be seeing myself on the podium.”

The 27-year-old has fond memories of Valencia, which is where he set the 10K world record of 26:38 in 2019 and the 10,000m world record of 26:11.00 the following year.

Joshua Cheptegei (middle) and his NN Running Team coach Addy Ruiter (right) chatting in Kapchorwa, Uganda. Photo: NN Running Team

The former marathon world record holder, Kipchoge, has always been an idol for Cheptegei, inspiring him when he began his professional career in 2015. “Kipchoge’s kind words have always been able to shape me,” Cheptegei told BBC Africa. “Eliud is always keeping an eye on me—always guiding the youth in a good way.” The two distance-running titans met when Cheptegei was training with Kipchoge’s group in Kaptagat, Kenya, in 2015.

Watch the Valencia Marathon

The hype and uncertainty surrounding Cheptegei’s potential over 42.2K will be thrilling to watch on Sunday at the 2023 Valencia Marathon. Cheptegei headlines an exciting field featuring former Olympic champions and world record holders. Additionally, there will be two Canadian athletes to follow, with 2020 Olympian Trevor Hofbauer aiming for an Olympic qualifying mark of 2:08:10, and Quebec’s Patrice Labonté looking to improve his PB of 2:20:53.

Trevor Hofbauer
Trevor Hofbauer at 2022 Canadian Marathon Championships, TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Photo: Canada Running Series

It’ll be an early morning for those in Canada looking to stream the race. The Valencia Marathon will start at 8:15 a.m. local time and 2:15 a.m. ET. The race can be streamed online via Streamster TV, beginning 15 minutes before the start.

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