World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe will bid to win her fourth Flora London Marathon title on 13th April when she faces a rematch against her arch rival Gete Wami, the Ethiopian she beat in a dramatic finish to take the New York marathon last November.
Radcliffe, who won the London race in 2002, 2003 and 2005, aims to become only the second woman to claim four victories a feat achieved by her mentor Ingrid Kristiansen, the great Norwegian who won the London Marathon four times between 1984 and 1988.
�"It's great to be running the Flora London Marathon again," said the 34-year-old Briton, who made a triumphant return to marathon running in New York after more than a year and a half out of competition. �"I love running in front of my home crowd and I know that winning a fourth time will give me just the boost I need before the Olympic Games in August. The London field is always competitive but that's what I need to be at my best in Beijing."
Radcliffe, who set both the women-only and mixed race world records on the London course, will face stiff competition from Wami, the World Marathon Majors champion and an athlete likely to be one of Radcliffe's closest challengers for Olympic gold. Wami's second place in New York came just a month after winning the Berlin Marathon, two performances which clinched the first ever World Marathon Majors title for the 32-year-old plus $500,000 in prize money. Wami finished second in her London Marathon debut last year when she clocked 2:21:45 behind China's Zhou Chunxiu.
�"We are delighted to have Paula back in London and pleased that she has decided to race here again against such a strong field," said Flora London Marathon Race Director David Bedford. �"No doubt all eyes will be on Paula as she goes for her fourth victory, but the women's race will be as tough as ever and Gete will have something to prove after losing to Paula in New York."
Wami's compatriot Berhane Adere, the Ethiopian record holder, is the second quickest in the field. Adere was tipped to perform well last year but finished a disappointing 10th. The big two will also be challenged by Romania's Constantina Tomescu-Dita, who was second to Radcliffe in 2005 and third last year; Svetlana Zakharova of Russia, a former Chicago Marathon champion; Australia's Benita Johnson, the Oceania record holder; Kenya's Salina Kosgei, who was fourth last year; and Germany's Irina Mikitenko, who finished second to Wami in Berlin.
As well as chasing London Marathon prize money totalling more than $250,000, the leading runners will also be battling to secure points towards the 2007/08 World Marathon Majors series currently headed by Wami. 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 Women's Field Fastest Times
Paula Radcliffe (GBR) 2:15:25
Berhane Adere (ETH) 2:20:42
Constantina Tomescu-Dita (ROM) 2:21:30
Gete Wami (ETH) 2:21:34
Svetlana Zakharova (RUS) 2:21:31
Benita Johnson (AUS) 2:22:36
Salina Kosgei (KEN) 2:23:22
Irina Mikitenko (GER) 2:24:51