Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei is already the 5,000-metre Olympic champion and a two-time world champ in the 10,000 metre distance and the world record holder at both distances, but it seems he’s just getting started. Cheptegei, 26, one of only ten men to ever hold both records concurrently, says he feels it’s time to step up his distance–and will be doing so in Valencia, Spain on Dec. 3.
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The Valencia Marathon, known for its fast and flat course, is familiar ground for the 26-year-old athlete. “I have run 2 of my world records there and they organized the NN Valencia World Record Day for me in Covid-times,” Cheptegei told World Athletics. “Now they have given me the opportunity to run my first marathon. I already know the track in Valencia and I am very excited to explore the roads here.” Cheptegei runs with the world’s fastest marathoner, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge on the NN Running Team.
MARATHON DEBUT 🦍🇺🇬🇪🇸 – @maratonvalencia
I feel it is time to expand my horizon, I am running on the track for 10 years now. I have 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. pic.twitter.com/yApcDPM5Ll
— Joshua Cheptegei 🇺🇬🇺🇬 🥇🥇 (@joshuacheptege1) July 2, 2023
While Cheptegei says his main focus for the next year will be the 2024 Paris Olympics, he hopes his marathon debut will be a good experience–and it will help determine what direction his racing will head in post-Olympics. Cheptegei finished second at the New York Half Marathon in March (his second-ever attempt at the distance), and ran a PB of 59:21 at the World Half Marathon Champs in 2020.
The current course record in Valencia is a scorching 2:01:53, set in 2022 by Kenyan runner Kelvin Keptum, also in his marathon debut. The last four editions of the race have been won in sub-2:04 times, and Cheptegei’s debut at such a remarkably quick race will be greatly anticipated.