During the official presentation of the IAAF/Trinidad Alfonso World Half-Marathon Championships, IAAF’s President, Sebastian Coe, stressed that this year’s trial (which will be held on Saturday in Valencia) has set an “all-time record for participation”.
Coe explained that 84 national federations will take part in the 23rd edition of the trial plus a team of 300 refugee athletes. This beats the previous record, which was set in Brussels in 2000, when 60 nationalities took part.
The planet’s top representative in the long-distance running field recalled that the World Women’s Record was beaten on the Valencian circuit by the Kenyan runner Joyciline Jepkosgei last October, “who pared a second off her earlier Half-Marathon World Record to win this IAAF Gold Label race“.
Apart from the fast circuit, he highlighted the race start and finish “in the impressive City of Arts and Sciences, which attracts many amateur runners and provides a spectacular backdrop to the event”.
The IAAF President also stressed the record participation in the trials, which also feature a Mass Run that will be held alongside the World Race.
“The fast circuit and the outstanding skills of the local organising committee in Valencia have attracted close on 15,000 amateur runners “which reflects the strong desire to take part in an event that provides a unique combination of the world’s top athletes and amateur runners“.
“There are few other sports — if any — in which the general public have the chance to take part in a World Championship and cover the same circuit as their heroes, the planet’s top athletes“, noting that this format had first been adopted in Copenhagen four years ago and was repeated in Cardiff in 2016.
Coe underlined the skills of the local organising committee and Spain’s Royal Athletics Federation (RFEA). He “especially thanked the collaboration of the main sponsor, Fundación Trinidad Alfonso, for its support and help in the battle against doping“. He also expressed his gratitude to the other IAAF and World Championship sponsors and suppliers.
The RFEA President, Raúl Chapado, noted that “holding a world championship is always splendid news, especially if it happens to be in a city that is wild about athletics and has a magnificent circuit such as the one in Valencia. I believe this will be the best edition of the race ever“.
- As far as the Spanish team’s chances go, he said that “We know that at the individual level, they cannot match the African athletes and will not get the top places. However, we will battle hard to come among the top three European teams, both for women and for men“.
Last but not least, he thanked Fundación Trinidad Alfonso for its support, adding that “the event would not have been possible without them”, and also thanked SD Correcaminos, “which has undertaken most of the organisation, for which I am greatly indebted“.
The Kenyan athlete Geoffrey Kamworor — champion in the last two world trials — was also at the presentation. He said: “I am delighted to be in ‘The Running City’ to defend my title. I have trained hard and I am ready for the race“.
The international Spanish athlete Marta Esteban said as a Valencian runner “having a World Championship in one’s home town is amazing. It is the most we could hope for and we are very proud of it“.
“My aim here is a complex one. I have trained as hard as I can and I know I am going to do well. I ran a marathon a month ago. I am really keen to run this circuit again, which is one I know well. It is fast and has an amazing finish. I hope we will fly but not because of windy weather“, she added.
The Argentine athlete Florencia Borelli, who holds the national record in her country, said that “My aim is always to improve when I compete in such an important championship. This is the first time I have classified and I am going to have fun, even though I am a little nervous “.
The presentation ended with a few words from veteran US athlete Bernard Lagat, who quipped “This is a big challenge for me. My main problem is Geoffrey Kamworor, who really has me quaking in my running shoes”, he said amid laughter.