A pile-up at the Valencia 10K start causes chaos

valencia 10k
Fall causes chaos at the Valencia 10K startHASTPHOTO

The Valencia 10k is known as one of the fastest races in the world. The two fastest men's times in history have been run there, five of the top ten fastest women's times, and yesterday's winner Yalemzerf Yehualaw came within a few seconds of breaking her own world record. So given the race's stellar reputation, it was perhaps therefore all the more surprising to see images circulating on social media of what looked like a chaotic start.

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One elite runner fell at the start, quickly disappearing under a sea of bodies. While the images were alarming, the race organisers soon issued a statement to confirm that no one had suffered serious injuries, though "some runners had bruises and one Brazilian elite athlete had a dislocated shoulder".

The full statement, which can be found online, confirms that several dozen athletes were involved, either falling or seeing their progress impeded. "We regret the problems that this incident may have caused to everyone involved," said the race communication. "The safety of the participants is the most important thing. The Organisation had arranged a carefully distributed start so that the runners could be placed according to their marks. However, not everything has gone well. Due to the density of corridors, we absolutely understand that we must increase the improvement measures again at this point. We will study from now on the possible changes in the start for the well-being and safety of the runners, which is our greatest interest."

Some videos showed a closely packed start - though this is in itself not unusual. But others on social media - including several athletes who took part - commented that that start was too narrow. GB Olympian Steph Twell, who finished 14th in a time of 32:25, the third best time of her career, tweeted that "It was dangerous before the start and anticipated this would happen."

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Start incidents aside, the most notable performance from a GB perspective was a hugely impressive run by Samantha Harrison, who ran a PB of 30:51 to go in at number four on the all-time UK rankings. There, she sits just behind Jessica Warner-Judd, who ran brilliantly yesterday on the other side of the Atlantic, coming third in a stacked field at the Houston half marathon. She finished in 67:19, a 33 second PB in only her second ever half. Only Paula Radcliffe, Eilish McColgan and Liz McColgan have ever run faster.

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