Hall and Wanjiru boost London's elite field

Two of the world’s brightest new marathon stars have been added to the men’s elite line-up for the 2008 Flora London Marathon, boosting a field already regarded as one of the best ever assembled.

World half marathon record holder Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya and US champion Ryan Hall join the World and Olympic marathon champions, Luke Kibet and Stefano Baldini, the former World record holder, Paul Tergat, and the defending London champion, Martin Lel, in the race to become the 2008 Flora London Marathon champion on 13 April.

Hall and Wanjiru both made sparkling marathon debuts in 2007 and have chosen London for their first major race of 2008 as they build up to the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

“I am delighted that these two highly talented young marathon runners will be part of the London Marathon story in 2008”, said Flora London Marathon race director Dave Bedford. “We have assembled one of the best ever fields for the race this year and the competition will be as fierce as ever, but I am sure Sammy and Ryan will be among the main contenders as the athletes approach the finish line in The Mall”.

Wanjiru made the step up to marathon running in 2007 after a highly successful career at half marathon. He broke Tergat’s long-standing World half marathon record in 2005, then reclaimed it from Haile Gebrselassie in February 2007, before lowering it again to 58 minutes 33 seconds in March.

After finishing a close second to Lel in the Great North Run, the 21-year-old went on to win the Fukuoka Marathon on 2 December at his first attempt at the distance, breaking the course record with a time of 2 hours 6 minutes 39 seconds, the third quickest in the world in 2007. Wanjiru has said he hopes to run 2:05 in London as he believes that’s what it will take to be selected for the Kenyan Olympic team.

Hall is already assured of his place in Beijing having won the US Olympic Men’s Marathon Trials in New York on 3 November beating the likes of Meb Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic silver medallist, and former world record holder Khalid Khannouchi. The 25-year-old made his marathon debut in London last year when he finished seventh in 2:08:24. He burst onto the world distance running stage a year ago in Houston when he smashed the North American half marathon record that had stood for 21 years, crossing the line in 59:43.

These top competitors in this year’s Flora London Marathon will also by fighting for points towards the second World Marathon Majors (WMM) series. The other WMM races this year are the Boston Marathon (April 21), the real,- Berlin Marathon (September 28), the Bank of America Chicago Marathon (October 12), and the ING New York City Marathon (November 2), plus the Olympic Games marathon races in Beijing (August 17 for women and August 24 for men).

The men’s elite field for London is currently as follows:

Elite Men’s field                                           fastest times
Paul Tergat (KEN)                                                    2:04:55
Felix Limo (KEN)                                                      2:06:14
Emmanuel Mutai (KEN)                                           2:06:29
Sammy Wanjiru (KEN)                                             2:06:39
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
Ryan Hall (USA)                                                        2:08:24
Luke Kibet (KEN)                                                      2:08:52
Aleksey Sokolov (RUS)                                            2:09:07
Meb Keflezighi (USA)                                               2:09:53