Defending London Marathon champion Priscah Jeptoo "ready to cope" with strong women's field

Thursday, 10 April 2014
By Zjan Shirinian

Priscah Jeptoo knows she will have her work cut out to defend her London Marathon title, but is confident she is in good shape ©Getty ImagesApril 10 - Defending champion Priscah Jeptoo says she is not complacent but is "ready to cope with everything" as she prepares to defend her Virgin Money London Marathon crown.

The Kenyan beat countrywoman Edna Kiplagat in last year's race, and they will once again take to the start line together.

But with Ethiopian 5,000 and 10,000 metres Olympic and world champion Tirunesh Dibaba also in the mix in what will be her first competitive marathon, Jeptoo knows the competition is fierce.

"I'm ready to cope with everything because I know this is a strong field," said the London 2012 Olympic marathon silver medallist ahead of the race on Sunday (April 13).

"It's not easy.

"We have Dibaba with a fast time, and also Tiki [Gelana] is very strong.

"So this is a strong field but I like it because I wanted to improve my time this year.

"In particular I know she [Dibaba] is running faster so it is good on my side so that we improve our time, especially me."

Haile Gebrselassie may not be competing, but he will still be on the London Marathon couse setting the pace for what he says is the best ever field assembled ©Bongarts/Getty ImagesHaile Gebrselassie may not be competing, but he will still be on the London Marathon couse setting the pace for what he says is the best ever field assembled ©Bongarts/Getty Images

The strength of both the women's and men's London Marathon field has been hailed by Ethiopian track legend Haile Gebrselassie, who will run up to the 30 kilometres mark as pacesetter for the men.

"This is the best marathon ever," he said.

"I've never seen such big names in one race.

"Both the men's and women's are like that.

"I'm happy just to be part of it.

"At least I can be there at the start of the race."

But he said the chance of world records being set was less likely because the competition is so fierce.

"The thing is everyone wants to win here," added Gebrselassie.

"This is the London Marathon and the winner is the most important athlete in the world.

"Here, people don't really run for time, they run to win the race."

Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede is defending his men's London Marathon title, with his chase for a third title set to be a tough task in a field including countryman Ibrahim Jeilan, London 2012 marathon gold medallist Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda and Briton Mo Farah.

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