The Zurich Marató Barcelona returns for its 44 edition this weekend
More than 15,000 participants register for Barcelona, numbers grow by 50% compared to 2022 and international runners make up more than half.
The Zurich Marató Barcelona’s 44th edition will take place with 15,127 registered participants, recovering pre-pandemic numbers and growing by 5,000 runners compared to the previous edition.
This Sunday 19th of March, the Marató also returns to its large number of participants coming from all over the world. Runners of 119 different nationalities have chosen Barcelona to live the best possible experience in the 42.195 km distance, in a renovated circuit in 2018, monumental and fast at the same time, with the ideal climate to run with thousands of participants and a powerful civic atmosphere.
In this sense, the Councillor for Sports of the Barcelona City Council, David Escudé, has highlighted that “this is the Barcelona’s Marathon of the recovery of numbers. We are very happy because this year the overall participation of the Zurich Marató Barcelona has grown by 50% compared to 2022, exceeding 15,000 registrations. We have also doubled the international participation compared to last year’s edition and more than half of the runners (55%, 8,319 in total) come to our city from other countries. The female participation is again 25%, equalling the highest percentage in our history (3,781 women participants). Without a doubt, this will be the great running festival that we are all looking forward to, with the streets full of people cheering and enjoying this sporting event”.
On the other hand, the director of the race, Mauro Llorens, explains that “we have everything ready and we are looking forward to starting a great edition of the Zurich Marató Barcelona where, for the first time, we will be a Gold Label Marathon awarded by World Athletics. In Spain only Barcelona has this label and, in Europe, only three more marathons has it. This means having a great line-up of elite athletes and first class services for runners. We will be looking for the two circuit records to position ourselves as one of the fastest marathons in Europe”.
The new feature of this year’s edition is that World Athletics has awarded the Zurich Marató Barcelona with the Gold Label for 2023. This is a distinctive label awarded to an event when it guarantees a high competitive level, as well as quality and comfort for the popular runners (official refreshment points, physiotherapy and recovery services, etc.). This distinction, which represents a qualitative leap for the Marató, reinforces the city of Barcelona’s capacity to organise large-scale, international sporting events, making it the only marathon in Spain and one of only three in Europe (along with the Rotterdam Marathon and the Istanbul Marathon) to have this label.
In addition, the slogan of this edition is Run In The World’s Best City because Barcelona has been considered the best city in the world according to the Telegraph Travel 2022 ranking. The course of the Zurich Marató Barcelona is ideal to enjoy: it runs through the heart of a cosmopolitan city, which has the great modernist legacy of Antonio Gaudí or the Pla Cerdà and the Camp Nou, Plaza España, the Arc de Triomf, the Sagrada Familia, the Forum or the Seafront as some of its main tourist attractions to enjoy the Catalan capital uniquely, running on a fast and magical route.
A competitive group of athletes from East Africa, with up to seven athletes with a Gold label, will take the start 19th of March to try to run under 02:04h. In terms of personal bests, the Turkish athlete Kaan Kigen Özbilen, Kenya’s 5000m champion at the age of 20, with a record that already predicted a promising athletics career, stands out in the first place to win the Zurich Marató Barcelona 2023.
As is usual for most long-distance runners, Kigen moved up the distance to concentrate on the marathon. In 2015 he became a naturalised Turkish citizen and in 2016 he won the European Half Marathon runner-up medal and his first international medal with his new country. From this point on, Özbilen concentrated on marathon, running 02:06h in the Dubai Marathon and improving his personal best in Valencia, where he has participated in the last three editions: 02:04:16h in 2019, 02:08:50h in 2020 and 02:04:36h in 2022. In this 44th edition of the Zurich Marató Barcelona, he will be, a priori, the athlete to follow, as he will start the race as the theoretical favourite as he will start with the best time of all the participants.
Five athletes with records in 02:05h are, on paper, Kigen’s strongest rivals and the most qualified ones, as they are lower or very close to the current race record (02:05:53h), achieved by the Ethiopian Yihunilign Adane last year, starting with Joel Kemboi Kimurer (Gold athlete) with 02:05:19h at the Milan Marathon 2021. Likewise, with the experience of his 35 years and having run 11 marathons, Kenyan Kemboi Kimurer and his 02:05:19h in the Milan Marathon two years ago, is also among the favourites to win in Barcelona. Another Kenyan, Marius Kimutai, is also among the favourites. He has been competing for Bahrain for the past two years and knows the Catalan capital’s circuit well, where he finished sixth in 2021 (02:06:54h).
On the other hand, Ethiopia’s athlete Takele Bikila achieved his best time at the Seville Marathon (02:05:52h) last season in his tenth 42km race, and Eritrea’s Kibrom Ruesom at the Valencia Marathon 2020 (02:05:53h) in his second marathon attempt. Closing the list is Ethiopia’s runner Kelkile Woldaregay time of 02:05:56h at the Rotterdam Marathon, which dates back to 2018.
Kaan Kigen Özbilen: “I want to thank the organisation for inviting me to run in the best city in the world. Eliud Kipchogue is my mentor and teammate and he has wished me luck for Sunday. I am coming to Barcelona to set the course record”.
Marius Kimutai: “Sunday I will return to a circuit I already know with the aim of improving my personal best and setting a new record”.
Two-time finalist at the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia 2018 and Gdynia 2020, Zeineba Yimer Worku (Gold Label) is the only female participant with a personal best under 2 hours and 20 minutes and is the favourite to break the women’s record set last year by Ethiopian Meseret Gebre Dekebo (02:23:11h). A time achieved twice, both times at the Valencia Marathon, finishing in 02:19:28h in 2019 and 02:19:54h the year after.
As a personal best and among the five Gold Label female athletes who will run on 19th of March in Barcelona, Yimer is the favourite among a group that also includes her compatriot, Ethiopia’s athlete Azmera Gebru Hagos, a cross-country runner who won bronze at the World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria in 2011, more than a decade ago. At the age of 23, Hagos made her debut at the 2018 Amsterdam Marathon, finishing in 02:23h and the following year, on the same circuit, she achieved what is, for the moment, her personal best (02:20:48h).
Zenebu Fikadu Jebesa (Gold Label) also repeats in Barcelona. The Ethiopian runner, third on the podium in the last edition of the Zurich Marató Barcelona (02:25:11h), will enjoy a new opportunity in a circuit she already knows. A fourth Ethiopian runner, Tsegaye Melesech, also returns to Barcelona after finishing second in 2017 (02:26:44h).
In terms of international experience, Kenya’s Selly Chepyego Kaptich (Gold Label) is a strong contender to face the Ethiopian trio of favourites. Kaptich is the U18 World 3000m champion and bronze medalist at the World Half Marathon in Copenhagen in 2014, as well as having finished third in another major event, the Berlin Marathon 2019, which she finished setting her personal best of 02:21:06h.
Among the European athletes, the participation of Delvine Relin Meringor, Kenyan until 2021 and Romanian since then, after her naturalisation by the European country, stands out. Meringor was a solid cross-country runner in her early days as an athlete. She made her debut at the 2021 Siena Marathon in 02:24:32h and won the Los Angeles Marathon a year ago (02:25:04h).
Selly Chepyego Kaptich: “I’m prepared for the weather conditions in Barcelona and I’m confident to beat the women’s record.”
posted Saturday March 18th