After London's brilliant Olympic Games in 2012, racing returns to the capital's streets in April when the world's best runners will battle it out over 26.2 miles to become 2013 Virgin London Marathon champion.
The race will feature the best elite men's marathon field ever assembled and will include 11 men who've completed the distance in under 2:06, as well as all three medalists from the London 2012 Olympic Marathon and the winners of the 2012 Berlin, Chicago, London, Frankfurt and Dubai Marathons.
The Virgin London Marathon is delighted that Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich, the surprise winner of the London 2012 Olympic Marathon, will return to the capital to do battle with Olympic silver medalist and world champion Abel Kirui (Kenya) and Olympic bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang.
As winner of the 2012 Virgin London Marathon, Kenya's Kipsang will be out to prove he's 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 London Marathon.
Kipsang will face stiff competition in April from his countryman Patrick Makau. As the marathon world-record holder (2:03:38) and winner of the 2012 Frankfurt Marathon, Makau will return to the capital with one goal: to add the prestigious Virgin London Marathon title to his already impressive running CV.
Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai will also be out to win when he runs his first Virgin 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 BMW Berlin Marathon in September will give him the confidence to go for victory when he takes on the best marathon field ever assembled in London in April.
While Kenya look likely to dominate the top spots at the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, the Ethiopians should not be overlooked. Tsegaye Kebede, who won the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the 2010 London Marathon, could cause an upset. His countryman 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.
British 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.
Virgin London Marathon race director Hugh Brasher said: "We're delighted to welcome all three medalists from the London 2012 Olympic Marathon to this year's Virgin London Marathon. 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 Shobukova 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 Kiplagat will be hoping to improve on her third-place finish at the 2012 Virgin London Marathon, while Jeptoo will be hoping to go one better than her silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Marathon. Florence Kiplagat will also be looking to build on her win at the 2011 BMW Berlin Marathon.
Gelana isn't the only Ethiopian runner who could challenge for the top spot at the 2013 Virgin London Marathon. All eyes will be on Tirunesh Dibaba – five-time world cross-country champion, London 2012 Olympic 10,000m champion and Beijing 2008 Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion – who will be making her debut at the marathon distance in London in April. The world is waiting to find out whether the Ethiopian runner's talent extends to the longer distance.
British Olympian Freya Ross (Murray) will be hoping to improve on her 44th place at the London 2012 Olympic Marathon, while Great Britain's Helen Clitheroe, who finished first at the Great Manchester Run in 2011, will make her marathon debut at the 2013 Virgin London Marathon.
Elite MenPersonal Best Patrick Makau (Kenya) 2:03:38 Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) 2:03:42 Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) 2:04:15 Ayele Abshero (Ethiopia) 2:04:23 Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) 2:04:38 Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) 2:04:40 Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) 2:04:52 Stanley Biwott (Kenya) 2:05:12 Martin Lel (Kenya) 2:05:15 Deressa Chimsa (Ethiopia) 2:05:42 Marilson Gomes dos Santos (Brazil) 2:06:34 Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) 2:07:20 Yared Asmeron (Eritrea) 2:07:27 Adil Annani (Morocco) 2:07:43 Marcin Chabowski (Poland) 2:10:07 Bunta Kuroki (Japan) 2.10.08
Leading British MenPersonal Best Tomas Abyu 2:10:37 Scott Overall 2:10:55 Derek Hawkins 2:14:08 Phil Wicks 2:15:38 Philip Anthony 2:16:40 Mathew Bond Debut
Elite WomenPersonal Best Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) 2:18:58 Lucy Kabuu (Kenya) 2:19:34 Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) 2:19:44 Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) 2:19:50 Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) 2:20:14 Meselech Melkamu (Ethiopia) 2:21:01 Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia) 2:22:03 Yukiko Akaba (Japan) 2:24:09 Remi Nakazato (Japan) 2:24:28 Jessica Augusto (Portugal) 2:24:33 Alevtina Biktimirova (Russia) 2:25:12 Mai Ito (Japan) 2:25:26 Nadia Ejjafini (Italy) 2:26:15 Renne Baillie (USA) 2:27:17 Olga Dubovskaya (Belarus) 2:28:08 Adriana Da Silva (Brazil) 2:29:17 Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) Debut Joyce Chepkirui (Kenya) Debut
Leading British WomenPersonal Best Freya Ross (Murray) 2:28:10 Amy Whitehead 2:33:44 Susan Partridge 2:34:13 Helen Clitheroe Debut