Where shall we start? Everywhere you look on the list of elite women assembled for the 2023 TCS London Marathon, there are stars to marvel at and stories to get excited about. We’ve broken down the five plot lines we’ll be following.
1. Kosgei vs Jepchirchir II is happening
The much-anticipated re-match between the world record holder and the reigning Olympic champion will be one for the ages. Brigid Kosgei has claimed two London titles and also boasts the world record after setting 2:14:04 in Chicago in 2019. She has not tasted defeat in London, but she has been bettered by Peres Jepchirchir in the pair’s only head-to-head so far, which saw Jepchirchir take Olympic gold in 2021. The 29-year-old has taken out New York City and Boston since then. Can she make it three Majors races to her name in London or will Kosgei take her third crown in the UK capital?
2. What will Sifan Hassan do?
The reigning double Olympic champion over 5,000m and 10,000m has chosen this white-hot race to make her debut over 26.2 miles, which says a lot for her confidence. And why not? Sifan Hassan says she has still not decided on her distances at the 2024 Olympics, so her performance against the strongest women’s field ever assembled will give her some pretty clear direction as to which way to go. After a disappointing World Championships in which she failed to medal on the track, could her future now lie on the road?
3. Assefa targets Major win No.2
Tigist Assefa put the world on notice when she shattered Berlin’s course record in 2022. Her time of 2:15:37 shot to No. 3 in the all-time list, only moving down a notch thanks to Ruth Chepngetich’s searing performance in Chicago two weeks later. The 28-year-old was dominant on her Majors debut and took full advantage of the famously flat and fast German course. In the company of the likes of Kosgei and Jepchirchir, it will be intriguing to see if she can translate that performance into victory in London.
4. A legendary name takes to the marathon stage
In 1996, Liz McColgan stormed to victory on the streets of London in a stellar marathon career including wins in New York City and an early version of the Tokyo Marathon. Twenty-seven years later, the McColgan name will appear again on the start list of the women’s elite field in London. Liz’s daughter Eilish makes her long-awaited marathon debut after crowning her track career with the Commonwealth Games 10,000m title. What can she do with that marathon pedigree and vociferous home crowd cheering her on?
5. The American
Emily Sisson has been ripping up national records in the states like a puppy let loose on a roll of toilet paper. The Milwaukee-born 31-year-old claimed the national US record at the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and then set about lowering her own half-marathon national record in Houston in January. This is a step up in terms of company for Sisson, but she has proved herself capable of rising to each challenge put in front of her so far. She can also take inspiration from the gutsy run in London in 2020 by Sara Hall that saw her countrywoman take a surprise second place.