Cheptegei, a Christmas gift for Vallecas: “It is an honor”

The Daoíz and Velarde Municipal Sports Center, in Pacífico, is a tumult. There is one day left until the start of the 58th edition of the San Silvestre Vallecana (the elite test will start this Saturday at 7:55 p.m. and can be followed on Telemadrid), the quintessential classic of popular Spanish races, the end-of-year running party. There is a certain silence in the room when the luminaries of the men’s race appear, led by Joshua Cheptegei. The Ugandan is the great Christmas gift from Vallecas. An Olympic (5,000) and world (10,000) champion, the world record holder in both distances (12:35.36 in 5,000, 26:11 in 10,000, that of this event), who runs for the first time in Madrid.

He considers it “a great pleasure and honor”, recognizes AS, and thanks the “invitation”. Under the windbreaker, which gives an imposing air to his 1.67-meter body and just over 50 kilos, he reveals a humble type, in line with the great African long-distance runners. Simple men, reluctant to give themselves the importance we give to their brands. Cheptegei has spent the last few months recovering from an injury sustained after doubling 5,000 and 10,000 at Eugene’s past Worlds. “Everything is under control now. I rested after the World Cup and I am healthy ”, he says before declaring his love for Spain, a place that has given him his “best moments”. It was in Valencia, two years ago, where he achieved the best time in history in 10,000. Here the bar is lower. The objective is to “get sensations”, although he acknowledges that only “victory” would give him fulfillment.

From left to right, Mayo, Kibet, Cheptegei, Katir and Carro, this Friday.

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From left to right, Mayo, Kibet, Cheptegei, Katir and Carro, this Friday. Eduardo Candel ReviejoDiaryAS

He believes that the “fast” route is going well for him, and regardless of results he is “looking forward” to seeing first-hand what the famous special atmosphere that surrounds this event is like. He likes Madrid, which he considers “a fun city”, to which he is especially attracted by the presence of Atlético and Real Madrid, with devoted fans that he hopes he will be able to meet. He is the one who appears as the main favorite, but who do you consider the most dangerous opponent? Inevitably the name of the Spanish Mo Katir, defending champion, who considers that he “has progressed a lot” this year and that he is “one of the great athletes” of the moment.

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Katir picks up the glove. He finds it “incredible” that he can be considered a rival worthy of the African, whom he hopes to hold “at least the first five kilometers”. He thinks it would be feasible if he cums “at 27:30 or 27:40 pace ″. Carlos Mayo, another of the Spanish figures, an Aragonese with Madrid roots who makes his debut in the event, confesses that he has “a lot of respect for the route”. Like Noah Kibet, one of the ‘yogurines’ of the edition, who at 18 hopes to be able to run in around 28 minutes.

The metamorphosis of Chariot

A Fernando Carro, who completed the present quintet, is amazed that brands such as those mentioned are spoken of with such ease, since they would imply “going down from 13:30 in the 5,000″. The man from Madrid recognizes that his career is beginning to take different paths, moving away from obstacles to focus on the route. Paris 2024, when he will be 32 years old, would be “a good time,” he says, to finish focusing on these types of events, half marathons, etc. Last year, at this point, she “did not want to know anything about sports” and he lived the San Silvestre from the sidelines. He now returns to the asphalt as one of the national runners to take into account.

Obstacler like him is the Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech, world champion of the modality in 2019 and one of the female stars of this edition, who believes that it will not be an “easy” test, but points to “a great brand”. Along the same lines, another of the favorites is pronounced, the Burundian Niyonsaba, who comes to give “the best” of herself. With such a poster, Laura Priego from Alcorcone, sixth last year and a Spanish asset along with others such as Laura Luengo or Naima Ait Alibou, finds it difficult to “repeat the result”. He will leave “with his head” so as not to suffer so much in the hard final stretch, bound for the Vallecas Stadium, which once again will crown this San Silvestre loaded with gifts for the runners Madrid.

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