Namibia’s veteran long distance runner Beata Naigambo’s efforts to retain the prestigious Valencia Marathon crown on Sunday proved futile after she only managed to finish the race in 7th place overall with a time of 2:33:10.
Naigambo went into Sunday’s race as the defending champion of the women’s division after she was crowned champion last year, which also saw her setting the best mark of the Valencia race with her winning time of 2.26:57
But Sunday’s race in the southeastern Spanish city of Valencia was a different kettle of fish compared to last year, with some of the world’s top athletes from Kenya, Ethiopia and hosts Spain all bringing to the fore some serious competition.
With Naigambo not being able to keep up with the pace and tenacity of her competitors, she however still put up a good fight under trying circumstances to claim 7th place.
The race was won by Kenya’s Valary Aiyabei with her impressive time of 2:24:48, a personal best by 38 seconds and also the fastest ever women’s performance on Spanish soil. Her compatriot Nancy Kiprop took 2nd place with her time of 2:25:13, while Ethiopia’s Bethlehem Cherenet clocked 2:26:11 to clinch 3rd place.
In an all-Kenya affair, the men’s division witnessed a surprise victory by the unheralded Victor Kipchirchir, who clocked a massive career best of 2:07:39. 2. His compatriots Gilbert Yegon (2:08:04) and Peter Kirui (2:08:12) completed the podium line-up when they finished second and third respectively.