Is it Tola's time in London?

Tamirat Tola comes to London bidding to win his first TCS London Marathon title this weekend.
The Ethiopian was third in London last year and then broke the course record to win the TCS New York City Marathon in 2:04:58, adding to his 2022 world title in Eugene, Oregon.
Tola faces his countryman and running legend Kenenisa Bekele who, at the age of 41, holds the masters world record of 2:04:19, set in Valencia last December.
If the grand old man of the elite race can replicate that form, he could well challenge Tola for the top spot on the podium. His last AbbottWMM win came when he ran 2:01:41 in Berlin, nearly five years ago.
“He’s either on and threatening course records and world records, or he’s not finishing the race,” said AbbottWMM Marathon Talk host Deena Kastor in this week’s preview show.
“He’s not the type that, if he’s on the line, he’s going to do something amazing, but sometimes he surprises us in a good way.”
Bekele’s performance in the NYC Half in March, where he clocked 63:59, suggests Tola should have the upper hand with the 59:46 set at the Ras Al Khaimah half marathon three weeks earlier.
Kenya and Ethiopia have shared the last 21 editions of the men’s race, but with double New York champion Geoffrey Kamworor withdrawing through injury, it falls to Alexander Mutiso Munyao to fly the Kenyan flag.
The 27-year-old ran 2:03:11 in Valencia last December for second place behind newly crowned Boston champion Sisay Lemma, which is faster than Tola's personal best.
Munyao was second in the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon in February with 59:37 to put him just outside the top 10 times in the world in the half marathon this year.
There are other men of note under the 2:05 mark who will want to be part of the conversation of this decidedly open-looking race.
Chicago champion in 2021, Seifu Tura – fifth in London last year – will pose a threat if the pace is controlled early on, as will the livewire Brazilian Daniel Do Nascimento, who blasted out of the gate at the 2022 TCS New York City Marathon only to collapse on the road in the suffocating heat that day.
There should be no such weather-related issues for this field on Sunday morning with a crisp 10ºC forecast.

If there are any lessons to be taken from the Boston Marathon on Sunday, it's that form can count for a lot. Sisay Lemma's blistering time set in Valencia in December carried him into Beantown and all the way to another victory.

If Tola can summon the feel-good factor he swept to victory in New York on, it could be his – and Ethiopia's – day.

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