After two fantastic finishes at the Boston Marathon on Monday, attention now turns to the Virgin Money London Marathon next Sunday when the third event in Series IX of the Abbott World Marathon Majors features men's course record holder Wilson Kipsang against world record holder Dennis Kimetto in a �clash of champions' over 26.2 miles, plus four fantastic Kenyans in a battle for the women's title.
Kipsang clinched Series VIII of the World Marathon Majors with victory at the New York Marathon last November and the Kenyan will be keen to get back on top of the leaderboard where Boston winner Lelisa Desisa now sits alongside his fellow Ethiopian Endeshaw Negesse, victor at the Tokyo Marathon in February.
Kipsang will fight to retain his London Marathon title in an anticipated mile-by-mile duel against London debutant Kimetto, who won three World Marathon Majors races in 2013 and 2014 but was beaten to the overall title by Kipsang by a single point. Kimetto made history at the Berlin Marathon last year when he became the first man ever to run a marathon in less than two hours three minutes, clocking 2:02:57.
The Kenyan pair are just two of the big hitters in a field that includes the three quickest marathon runners of all time (on legitimate courses); five of the world's all-time top 10; and nine men in total who have run sub-2:05. Among those who will challenge the big two are Emmanuel Mutai, the 2011 London Marathon champion, Eliud Kipchoge, the 2014 Chicago Marathon champion, and Geoffrey Mutai, the World Marathon Majors Series VI champion (2011/12).
After Caroline Rotich's thrilling win in Boston, Kenyans will have high hopes of another women's victory in London where defending champion Edna Kiplagat takes on New York Marathon champion Mary Keitany, the London winner in 2011 and 2012, world half marathon record holder Florence Kiplagat, and Priscah Jeptoo, the Olympic silver medallist and 2013 London champion.
But the women's elite field contains no fewer than eight runners who have personal bests under 2:22, and 10 who have run faster than 2:25. Among them are a group of talented Ethiopians, led by Aselefech Mergia, who will be hoping to knock the Kenyans off their stride and join Tokyo winner Birhane Dibaba and Rotich on top of the standings.
The 35th edition of the London Marathon also features three-times winner Paula Radcliffe, who returns to the race where she broke the women's world record for what is expected to be her final competitive appearance.
Top Elite Fields (sub 2:06, sub 2:24, plus other notable runners)
Current Leaderboard Standings:
1. Lelisa Desisa (ETH): 25 pts
1. Endeshaw Negesse (ETH): 25 pts
3. Yemane Tsegaye (ETH): 16 pts
3. Stephen Kiprotich (UGA): 16 pts
5. Wilson Chebet (KEN): 9pts
5. Dickson Chumba (KEN): 9 pts
1. Caroline Rotich (KEN): 25 pts
1. Birhane Dibaba (ETH): 25 pts
3. Mare Dibaba (ETH): 16pts
3. Helah Kiprop (KEN): 16 pts
5. Buzenesh Deba (ETH): 9 pts
5. Tiki Gelana (ETH): 9 pts
About Abbott World Marathon Majors
The Tokyo, Boston, Virgin Money London, BMW BERLIN, Bank of America Chicago, and TCS New York City Marathons together represent the Abbott World Marathon Majors and serve as Qualifying Races. In the years in which they are run, the Series also includes the IAAF World Championships and Olympic Marathons. At the conclusion of each Series cycle, a $1 million prize purse is divided equally between the top male and female marathoners in the world as determined by points earned in Qualifying Races. The inaugural 2006-2007 WMM Series was launched at the 110th Boston Marathon on April 17, 2006, and concluded at the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2007. The Tokyo Marathon became a Qualifying Race in October 2012, and the 2013-2014 series, the WMM's eighth two-year series, began with the Tokyo Marathon on Feb. 24, 2013, and concluded at the TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 2, 2014. The first Abbott World Marathon Majors series, titled AWMM Series IX, began at the Tokyo Marathon 2015 and will conclude after completion of the Tokyo Marathon 2016.
VIRGIN MONEY LONDON MARATHON
BANK OF AMERICA CHICAGO MARATHON
TCS NEW YORK CITY MARATHON