Valencia Women’s Marathon — Fast Times Galore

Unheralded Amane Beriso moved to No. 3 on the all-time list as a record 7 women broke 2:19. (SEAN HARTNETT)

VALENCIA, SPAIN, December 04 — Amane Beriso stole the show at the 42nd Trinidad Alfonso Valencia Marathon, surging away from fellow Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey in the 37th kilometer to finish in 2:14:58, becoming the third fastest woman in history.

Gidey would finish 2nd in a debut-record 2:16:49, with a record 7 runners finishing under 2:19 and best-mark-for-place times set in 2nd through 12th. The race clearly stamped Valencia one of the world’s fastest venues.

Despite the incredible depth of the field, heading into the race almost all of the focus was on Gidey’s 26M debut and hopes to add the marathon to her collection of WRs over 5000, 10,000 and half-marathon.

Guided by a trio of pacers Gidey began the race a bit cautiously, running 2:16:08 pace through an opening 16:08 5K, then began to ratchet down the tempo, splitting 32:03 at 10K and 48:03 — a 2:15:10 projection — at 15K.

The favorite and her pacers then pushed harder, cranking out a steady stream of kilos faster than the 3:10.6 pace of Brigid Kosgei’s 2:04:04 WR run at Chicago ’19. Halfway was reached in 67:18, 25K in 1:19:37 (2:14:23), and 30K in 1:35:24 (2:14:11).

Gidey, clad in a white NN singlet and arm sleeves ran ever so smoothly and seemingly in complete control, trailing a trio of orange-clad pacers and ensconced in a gaggle of men looking for TV time.

Such was the gaggle, that the black-clad Beriso, 31, was barely noticeable, that is until she pulled alongside Gidey after passing halfway. In ’16, she had run a 2:20:48 debut in Dubai, but spent much of her subsequent years hampered by injuries. This year, she has been injury-free and training in coach Gemedu Dedefo’s group that included Berlin champ Tigist Assefa.

Beriso began the year with a very credible high-altitude effort of 2:25:05 to win the Mexico City race, paring more than 8:00 off the course record and demonstrating something well under 2:20 low-altitude fitness. So encouraged was Dedufo that he instructed her to follow Gidey’s 2:14 pace.

Beriso and Gidey ran side by side amidst a phalanx of male pacers and racers and with a 3:10 for kilo 33 the projected pace reached 2:14:10. While the pace stagnated, hovering just above the record, the racing was on and with each kilometer it was Beriso who now looked in control as Gidey ran with a worried frown.

The duo passed 35K in 1:51:21 (2:14:14 pace), but slowed to 3:13 kilometers as Beriso slowly edged ahead. Initially the gap was just a stride or two but after 37K, Beriso broke away from Gidey — and her pacers. As it was not expected that anyone would go with the WR tempo, the pacers from Gidey’s NN team stayed with her as Beriso surged to the front.

“Running with Letesenbet gave me big morale,” Beriso professed, adding, “she is a very strong woman that has run very well at all distances. Running a very fast time at 30K also gave me great morale and at 37K, I tried to push the pace. When she did not follow me, immediately it gave me much confidence.”

Without pacers and with only a few men remaining near her, Beriso ran alone over the final 5 kilometers with the pace slipping to 3:14–3:18 kilometers. Crossing the 40K mat in 2:07:37, the pace had slowed to a 2:14:37 clip. With fatigue constricting her lateral arm swing, Beriso just managed 3:20 and 3:24 for her final two segments, just fast enough to become the third woman under 2:15.

Gidey slowed even further, falling almost 2:00 back, averaging 3:22.4 over her final 7.195 kilometers. Burdened with great expectations, she was devastated at the finish, admitting, “After 35K I had no energy.” While embracing her debut record, she asserted “I have confidence that I will get the record.”

For Beriso, the race was not only a big breakthrough but also a missed opportunity. “Conditions were very good and the race course was very flat and it is possible to even run under the World Record” she said. “Today was my chance, but the problem was with the pacemakers, nobody was helping me after I left Letesenbet, I just pushed myself.”

“After Dubai I had a lot of injuries and competitions were up and down,” Beriso admitted. “I was finally 100% healthy in Mexico City. Training with Assefa and other athletes, I came to Valencia with big confidence. After these results I think somebody will break the World Record soon.”

Whoever the next recordholder may be, coach Dedufo asserted, “Amane is capable of running 2:12.”


1. Amane Beriso (Eth) 2:14:58 NR (3, 3 W); 2. Letesenbet Gidey (Eth) 2:16:49 PR (6, 7 W) (debut record);

3. Sheila Kiprotich (Ken) 2:17:29 PR (11, x W (debut); 4. Tadu Teshome (Eth) 2:17:36 PR (12, x W); 5. Fancy Chemutai (Ken) 2:18:11 PR; 6. Tiruye Mesfin (Eth) 2:18:47 PR; 7. Tigist Girma (Eth) 2:18:52 PR; 8. Etagegne Woldu (Eth) 2:20:03 PR; 9. Dolshi Tesfu (Eri) 2:20:40 PR; 10. Majida Maayouf (Mor) 2:21:01 NR;

11. Eshetu Degefa (Eth) 2:21:34 PR; 12. Sinead Diver (Aus) 2:21:34 NR; 13. Meseret Gebre (Eth) 2:23:38; 14. Bojana Bjeljac (Cro) 2:23:39 NR; 15. Giovanna Epis (Ita) 2:23:54 PR; 16. Irvette van Zyl (SA) 2:26:11 PR; 17. Marta Galimany (Spa) 2:26:14 NR; 18. Natasha Cockram (GB) 2:26:14 PR; 19. Carolina Wikström (Swe) 2:26:14 PR; 20. Gladys Tejeda (Per) 2:26:26; 21. Georgina Schwiening (GB) 2:26:28 PR; 22. Aleksandra Brzezińska (Pol) 2:28:09 PR; 23. Jane Bareikis (US) 2:30:04 PR; 24. Meline Rollin (Fra) 2:30:27 PR; 25. Jenny Bergman (US) 2:31:39 PR.

(best-ever mark-for-place: 2–12)