Ethiopia may have claimed a clean sweep in the men’s race at the Boston Marathon on Monday but Kenyan runners went one better in the Virgin Money London Marathon last year, filling the first four places.
Twelve months on, Kenyan runners are again expected to dominate proceedings in this IAAF Gold Label Road Race today at starting at 11:15am.
That is not to say the Ethiopians will be completely outmatched. Arguably the greatest track and cross country runner in history, Kenenisa Bekele, makes his comeback after two years of injury problems to contest his fourth marathon.
Kenyan runners have claimed 10 of the last 12 titles in London and this streak looks set to continue today in no small part due to one man: reigning champion Eliud Kipchoge.
The 31-year-old has amassed a near-flawless record at the distance, winning five of his six races and running 2:05:30 or faster each time. Mary Keitany will be leading the women charge.
Kipchoge, who is looking to become the first runner since Martin Lel in 2008 to win back-to-back titles, elected to forego any races over shorter distances in the build-up but told the press he has prepared well for his title defence.
He will be joined on the start line by former world record holder Wilson Kipsang, who is the only athlete to beat Kipchoge at the distance. But Kipchoge turned the tables on Kipsang last year, claiming victory in 2:04:42 to Kipsang’s 2:04:47.
The rest of the year did not go quite to plan for the former world record holder, but Kipsang said he enjoyed an injury-free build-up to this year’s race.
Likewise, current world record holder Dennis Kimetto dropped out of two marathons last year after finishing third in London but believes his shape coming into this race is comparable to Berlin two years ago where he ran 2:02:57. — IAAF