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All eyes on Kipchoge in London Marathon

Saturday April 27 2019

London Marathon men's champion Eliud Kipchoge trains at Moi University School of Law grounds in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on April 9, 2019. He will defend his title on April 28, 2019. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |

London Marathon men's champion Eliud Kipchoge trains at Moi University School of Law grounds in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on April 9, 2019. He will defend his title on April 28, 2019. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Mary Keitany will be chasing a record fourth titles when they line up in the 39th edition of London Marathon from 10.55am (Kenyan time) on Sunday.

The two Kenyans, who are fastest in the men and women’s fields, face strong opposition in their quest for glory in one of the most famous races in the World Marathon Majors.

It will be Kipchoge’s first race since breaking the marathon world record seven months ago, while it will be Keitany’s fourth marathon race since she set an all-woman world record in the marathon two years ago.

Kipchoge is the outright favourite to retain the men’s title, having won in Berlin in September in a trail-blazing world record time of 2 hours, 01 minute and 39 seconds, a feat that saw him erase 78 seconds from the previous world record.

Should Kipchoge win in London and go on to claim his maiden World Marathon title in Doha later this year, the 34-year-old Kenyan will become the first man to hold the Olympics, Worlds and world marathon record at the same time.

IMPRESSIVE RECORD

Kipchoge, who won his maiden London Marathon title in 2015 and retained the crown in a course record time of 2:03:05 in 2016, is the man to beat, considering that he has won 11 out of 12 races in his marathon career that includes, among other races, the 2016 Olympic Games marathon in Rio de Janeiro.

On the other hand, Keitany might not be having a World Championship medal in the marathon but her prowess over the distance is unrivalled, having won seven out of her 11 outings in the World Marathon Majors. Three of her victories are from London.

Keitany’s breathtaking performance at the 2017 World Championships in London perhaps is the most memorable, the athlete having shot up in the race to win in a blistering 2:17:01.

Keitany broke the 14-year-old record of 2:17:42 set by Briton Paula Radcliffe at the same course by 41 seconds. The feat was enough to also secure her the national record.

That performance made Keitany the second fastest woman in marathon history after Radcliffe, who won in London in 2003 in a course record time of 2:15:25, although the Briton used male pacesetters.

Kipchoge said he has had good preparations for Sunday’s race under coach Patrick Sang, but he is not obsessed with past achievements.

Kipchoge faces two past winners from London, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Wilson Kipsang (2:03:13) who won in London in 2012 and 2014 in a course record time 2:04:29, and the 2017 champion Daniel Wanjiru. Kipsang, 37, might be the most experienced marathoner in Sunday’s field but his performance has not been impressive since he won in London in 2014.

INCONSISTENT

He only got to claim another World Marathon Major’s victory in Tokyo in a course record time of 2:03:58. Kipchoge also faces Ethiopian contingent, led by Tola Shura Kitata (2:04:59), who finished second last year.

The Ethiopia charge also has Mosinet Geremew, who won in Dubai last in in personal best 2:04:00, Leule Gebrselassie (2:04:02), Tamirat Tola (2:04:06) and Mule Wasihun (2:04:37).

The focus will also be on home athlete Mo Farah who finished third last year. Farah is fresh from winning Chicago Marathon in a Personal Best time of 2:05:11 last year.

“Sports is about competition and anybody can be beaten,” Kipchoge said on Saturday at the pre-event press conference. “Mo can beat me and the others can also beat me. The best thing is if you just accept this. That’s the only way to enjoy the sport."

Keitany faces three of her compatriots who have run sub-2 hours and 20 minutes. They include defending champion Vivian Cheruiyot, who won last year’s race in a Personal Best of 2:18:31, three times Berlin Marathon champion Gladys Cherono, who retained her title in Berlin last year in a course record 2:18:11 and Brigid Kosgei, the fourth fastest in the field in 2:18:35 from her victory at Chicago Marathon last year.

The 2018 Dubai Marathon champion Roza Dereje (2:19:10) and 2018 Tokyo Marathon winner Birhane Dibaba (2:19:51) will spearhead Ethiopia’s assault.

Other Ethiopians in the race are Haftamnesh Tesfay (2:20:13) and Tadelech Bekele (2:21:40).

ELITE FILEDS

Men’s 42km:

Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 2:01:39

Wilson Kipsang (KEN) 2:03:13

Mosinet Geremew (ETH) 2:04:00

Leule Gebrselassie (ETH) 2:04:02

Tamirat Tola (ETH) 2:04:06

Abraham Kiptum (KEN) 2:04:16

Mule Wasihun (ETH) 2:04:37

Tola Shura Kitata (ETH) 2:04:59

Mo Farah (GBR) 2:05:11

Daniel Wanjiru (KEN) 2:05:21

Henryk Szost (POL) 2:07:39

Cameron Levins (CAN) 2:09:25

Dewi Griffiths (GBR) 2:09:49

Michel Butter (NED) 2:09:58

Callum Hawkins (GBR) 2:10:17

Bashir Abdi (BEL) 2:10:46

Ihor Olefirenko (UKR) 2:12:04

Yassine Rachik (ITA) 2:12:09

Yohei Suzuki (JPN) 2:12:18

Tsegai Tewelde (GBR) 2:12:23

Chris Derrick (USA) 2:12:50

Jonathan Mellor (GBR) 2:12:57

Iraitz Arrospide (ESP) 2:13:23

Derlis Ayala (PAR) 2:13:41

Robbie Simpson (GBR) 2:14:04

Joshua Griffiths (GBR) 2:14:49

Mick Clohisey (IRL) 2:14:55

Andy Davies (GBR) 2:15:11

Thomas De Bock (BEL) 2:15:19

Matt Sharp (GBR) 2:16:02

Dennis Laerte (BEL) 2:16:29

Brett Robinson (AUS) debut

Jack Rayner (AUS) debut

Andy Vernon (GBR) debut

Jack Martin (GBR) debut

Nitender Singh Rawat (IND) debut

Mikael Ekvall (SWE) debut

Women’s 42km:

Mary Keitany (KEN) 2:17:01

Gladys Cherono (KEN) 2:18:11

Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) 2:18:31

Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:18:35

Roza Dereje (ETH) 2:19:17

Birhane Dibaba (ETH) 2:19:51

Haftamnesh Tesfay (ETH) 2:20:13

Tadelech Bekele (ETH) 2:21:40

Linet Masai (KEN) 2:23:46

Sinead Diver (AUS) 2:25:19

Carla Salome Rocha (POR) 2:25:27

Molly Huddle (USA) 2:26:44

Sonia Samuels (GBR) 2:28:04

Martina Strahl (SUI) 2:28:07

Allie Kieffer (USA) 2:28:12

Lilia Fisikovici (MDA) 2:28:26

Charlotte Purdue (GBR) 2:29:23

Lily Partridge (GBR) 2:29:24

Tracey Barlow (GBR) 2:30:42

Ruth Van Der Meijden (NED) 2:31:15

Maude Mathys (SUI) 2:31:17

Tish Jones (GBR) 2:33:56

Carmen Martinez (PAR) 2:35:17

Natasha Cockram (GBR) 2:35:47

Brittany Charboneau (USA) 2:36:34

Hayley Carruthers (GBR) 2:36:48

Laura Graham (GBR) 2:37:05

Emily Sisson (USA) debut

Emma Mitchell (IRL) debut

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