Olympic champion Kiprotich returns to do battle with Kenyans at 2013 Virgin London Marathon

Friday, 25 January 2013
By Mike Rowbottom at Le Gavroche in London

Stephen Kiprotich 250113January 25 - Stephen Kiprotich will return to the streets where he became a surprise winner of the London 2012 Olympics as he takes part in the 2013 Virgin London Marathon in April.

The Ugandan (pictured top) will be one of the key runners in the best elite men's marathon field ever assembled, including 11 men who have completed the distance in under 2 hours 6 min, as well as all three medallists from the London 2012 Olympic marathon and the winners of the 2012 Berlin, Chicago, London, Frankfurt and Dubai Marathons, announced here today.

Thus, Kiprotich will return to the capital on April 21 to do battle with the two Kenyans he beat in London last summer – silver medallist and world champion Abel Kirui and bronze medallist Wilson Kipsang.

As winner of the 2012 London Marathon, Kenya's Kipsang will be out to prove he is the best in the world over the marathon distance.

Kipsang missed out on the London Marathon course record by just four seconds at the race last year, when he crossed the finish line more than two minutes clear of his closest rival, fellow Kenyan Martin Lel - himself a three-time winner of the race.

Kipsang will face stiff competition from his compatriot Patrick Makau.

As the marathon world-record holder at 2 hour 03min 38sec and winner of the 2012 Frankfurt Marathon, Makau will return to the capital with one goal: to add the prestigious London Marathon title to his already impressive running CV.

Patrick Makau world recordMarathon world-record holder Patrick Makau will be looking to add the Virgin London Marathon title to his already impressive CV

Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai will also be out to win when he runs his first London Marathon this year.

Despite failing to gain selection for the Kenyan Olympic marathon team, Mutai is considered by many to be the world's best marathon runner.

His win at the 2012 Berlin Marathon in September will give him the confidence to go for victory when he takes on the field in London.

While Kenya looks likely to dominate the top spots, the Ethiopians should not be overlooked.

Tsegaye Kebede, who won the 2012 Chicago Marathon and the 2010 London Marathon, could cause an upset.

His compatriot Ayele Abshero is also capable of spoiling the Kenyan party after running the sixth fastest marathon ever when he won the 2012 Dubai Marathon in 2:04:23.

Ayele Abshero 250113Ayele Abshero could challenge for the 2013 Virgin London Marathon title

Olympian Scott Overall and fellow British runner Tomas Abyu are unlikely to challenge for the win, but if they beat their personal bests, they could secure a top 10 finish.

"We're delighted to welcome all three medallists from the London 2012 Olympic Marathon to this year's Virgin London Marathon," race director Hugh Brasher said.

"The Olympic stars will line up alongside the world's best distance runners in what promises to be a remarkable battle between the strongest men's field ever assembled for a marathon."

In the women's race, Ethiopia's Tiki Gelana will be the one to watch after her win at the London 2012 Olympic marathon.

She also won the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon in a time of 2:18:58 – which makes her the fourth fastest woman in history behind Great Britain's Paula Radcliffe, Russia's Liliya Shobukhova and Kenya's Catherine Ndereba.

The Kenyan trio of Florence Kiplagat, Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo could also challenge for the title.

World champion Edna will be hoping to better her third-place finish at the 2012 London Marathon, while Jeptoo will be hoping to go one better than her silver medal at London 2012.

London 2012 gold and silver medallists Tiki Gelana and Priscah Jeptoo will be ones to watch at the 2013 Virgin London MarathonLondon 2012 gold and silver medallists Tiki Gelana (centre) and Priscah Jeptoo (left) will be ones to watch at the 2013 Virgin London Marathon

Florence will also be looking to build on her win at the 2011 Berlin Marathon.

Gelana is not the only Ethiopian runner who could challenge for the top spot.

All eyes will be on Tirunesh Dibaba – five-time world cross-country champion, London 2012 Olympic 10,000 metres champion and Beijing 2008 Olympic 5,000 and 10,000m champion – who will be making her debut at the marathon distance in London.

The world is waiting to find out whether the Ethiopian runner's talent extends to the longer distance.

British Olympian Freya Murray-Ross will be hoping to improve on her 44th place at London 2012, while Britain's Helen Clitheroe, who finished first at the Great Manchester Run in 2011, will make her marathon debut.

Contact the writer of this story at mike.rowbottom@insidethegames.biz
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