Defending champion Martin Lel will return to the capital in April in a bid to claim his third Flora London Marathon title in four years.
After winning in 2005 and again last year, Lel will become only the third man to win three London Marathons if he can capture the crown in the Mall on Sunday 13th April 2008. Only Mexico's Dionicio Ceron, between 1994 and 1996, and Portugal's Antonio Pinto, in 1992, 1997 and 2000, have won the London race three times since it was first held in 1981.
"I am very pleased to be able to defend my title," said Lel, who also finished runner-up in London in 2006. "I am training hard to make sure I am in top shape for my bid to win a third time. I know it will be tough but I love running in London and am confident I can win again."
In November the 29-year-old Kenyan became the first man ever to win the London and New York marathons in the same year. But he will have to be at best to win London again as he faces yet another top quality field for the 2008 men's race.
The line-up is packed with some of the greatest marathon runners in the world including the Olympic champion Stefano Baldini of Italy and the World Champion Luke Kibet of Kenya. They'll be joined by the former world record holder, Paul Tergat, the second fastest man ever; his fellow-Kenyan Felix Limo, the 2006 London Marathon champion; and Morocco's former double World Champion Jaouad Gharib.
"I believe this is one of the best fields we've ever assembled," commented Flora London Marathon Race Director, David Bedford. "I am delighted to welcome Martin back to London. He has a fantastic record here and will be extremely hard to beat.
"But it will not be easy for him as the opposition is of the highest quality and many of these stars will be hoping to prove their fitness before the Olympic Games in Beijing."
Among the other runners capable of stopping Lel in his tracks are Kenya's Emmanuel Mutai, the world's second fastest marathon runner in 2007; Abderrahim Goumri, the Moroccan who was second last year; South Africa's Hendrick Ramaala, the 2004 New York champion who'll be making his seventh London appearance; Meb Keflezighi, USA's Olympic silver medallist; Aleksey Sokolov, the Russian who broke his national record to win the 2007 Dublin Marathon in October; and Yonas Kifle, the Eritrean record holder.
As well as chasing his third London Marathon title, Lel will also be looking to secure maximum points towards the 2007/08 World Marathon Majors series which he is currently leading by 20 points from Goumri. Lel finished second to Robert K Cheruiyot in the 2006/07 series. A prize purse of $1million awaits the men's and women's winners of the second WMM series which concludes with the ING New York City Marathon in November.
Elite Men's field fastest times
Paul Tergat (KEN) 2:04:55
Felix Limo (KEN) 2:06:14
Emmanuel Mutai (KEN) 2:06:29
Martin Lel (KEN) 2:06:41
Hendrick Ramaala (RSA) 2:06:55
Jaouad Gharib (MAR) 2:07:02
Stefano Baldini (ITA) 2:07:22
Yonas Kifle (ERI) 2:07:34
Abderrahim Goumri (MAR) 2:07:44
Luke Kibet (KEN) 2:08:52
Aleksey Sokolov (RUS) 2:09:07
Meb Keflezighi (USA) 2:09:53