In a much-anticipated marathon debut in Valencia, the fastest man in the world alive over 5,000 and 10,000m distances, Joshua Cheptegei faced a challenging baptism in the discipline, crossing the finish line in 2:08:59, placing 37th and missing the podium which he at least hoped of making.
The Valencia Marathon on Sunday was won by Sisay Lemma, Kenya’s Alexander Mutiso came second and Dawit Wolde completed the Ethiopian sandwich in 3rd as Cheptegei struggled to cross the finish line.
In a Twitter post following the race, Cheptegei shared his thoughts, acknowledging the unexpected outcome: “Marathon is a journey, a new chapter that I opened today. I am proud that I finished, despite the result not matching up with what we had trained for.”
The Ugandan Silverback , known for his achievements on track had a promising start to the race keeping up with the leading park for over 20 minutes but gradually slowed down as the Marathon advanced.
His finish, although not in line with his podium aspirations, Cheptegei recognised the experience as a formidable challenge.
Cheptegei expressed gratitude towards the fans, acknowledging their support: “I want to thank the incredible number of fans who cheered me on today.”
Looking forward, Cheptegei revealed his plans to refocus on the tracks with the ultimate goal of securing gold at the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games in France.
Specifically eyeing the 10 km event, he remains determined to add more chapters to his marathon journey, emphasizing that disappointment has historically fueled his comeback: “I have had disappointment before, and it always made me come back stronger; it is the most powerful lesson in life.”
This rewinds the clock to the 2017 world cross country championships championships hosted in Uganda when Cheptegei led for the largest part of the race, unfortunately he struggled to cross the finish line and needed help from stewards after a swarm of athletes had all run past him.
As he concluded his post, Cheptegei hinted at the chapters yet to be written in the marathon, promising that more would unfold in the years to come.
Immediate plans include returning home for a well-deserved break with family before gearing up for the preparations leading to the Paris Olympics.