Bekele, Kiptum, Kipruto and Legese go head to head in London Marathon

Posted by: Watch Athletics

The London Marathon returns to its traditional date after the final three editions were held in autumn. 

For the first time in history two men, who have broken the 2:02 barrier will go head-to-head in the same race at the London Marathon on Sunday, 23rd April.

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele will take on Kenya's Kelvin Kiptum, who won the Valencia Marathon in 2:01:53 last December, becoming the fastest debutant in history. 

Kiptum is ranked third in the world's all-time list behind Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele. The 23-year-old Kenyan runner also set a PB of 58:42 in the Valencia Half Marathon in 2020. 

Bekele, a former 5000m and 10000m world record holder, five-time world champion and three-time Olympic, came very close to breaking the world marathon record in 2019 when he set the second fastest time in history with 2:01:41 in Berlin. He finished fifth in last year's edition of the London Marathon in a world master 40 record of 2:05:53. 

Kenenisa Bekele: "My training has been good but not perfect. I had minor injuries earlier on in my training program, but I feel healthy and fit for Sunday's race. My last race was the 2022 London Marathon. I had hoped for more in the race, but I could not achieve what I set out to. I was struggling healthwise, having suffered a double Covid-19 infection. The world record set by Eliud Kipchoge motivates me. I still hope it will happen one day. Good competition always helps to motivate me to push myself the extra bit. We need each other to excel in athletics". 

This year's London Marathon men's field will have four of the five fastest men in marathon history. The line-up features Ethiopian runners Birhanu Legese and Mosinet Geremew. Legese finished second in Berlin in 2019 in his PB of 2:02:48 behind Bekele and competed in the past two editions of the London Marathon, finishing fifth in 2021 in 2:06:10 and sixth in 2022 in 2:06:11. He also won two editions of the Tokyo Marathon in 2019 in 2:04:48 and in 2020 in 2:04:15 and finished third in Valencia in 2020 in 2:03:16. 

Geremew won two world silver medals in Doha 2019 and Eugene 2022 and set his PB of 2:02:55 in London in 2019. He also took part in the past two editions of the London Marathon clocking 2:06:04 in 2020 and 2:04:41 in 2021. 

Defending London Marathon champion Amos Kipruto from Kenya and reigning world champion Tamirat Tola from Ethiopia will also return to London. 

Kipruto won the biggest race of his career at the 2022 London Marathon in 2:04:39 and finished second to world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in 2:03:13 in Tokyo in March 2022. The Kenyan athlete also won the world bronze medal in Doha 2019, claimed victories in Rome in 2:08:12 in 2016 and Seoul in 2:05:54 in 2017 and finished second in Berlin in 2:06:23 in 2018. Kipruto will be looking to become the fourth athlete to win back-to-back titles in London following Dionisio Ceron (three-time winner in 1994, 1995 and 1996), Martin Lel (winner in 2007 and 2008) and Eliud Kipchoge (four-time winner in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019). 

Amos Kipruto: "Winning last year's London Marathon was an incredible experience for me. I am now preparing hard for this year's race and I can't wait to return to London as the defending champion. London has an incredibly strong field and this year is the same, so I know I will face a battle to defend my title, but I am confident and looking forward to". 

Tola won the world title in Eugene in a championship record of 2:05:35 last year. The Ethiopian runner won the 2021 Amsterdam Marathon in 2:03:39 and finished third to Kipchoge and Kipruto at the 2022 Tokyo Marathon in 2:04:14. Tola won the Olympic bronze medal in the 10000 metres in Rio de Janeiro 2016 and the world silver medal in the marathon in London 2017. 

Geoffrey Kamworor won the New York Marathon in 2017 and 2019 and set his PB of 2:05:23 in Valencia in 2021. Kamworor won three worlds half marathon gold medals, and two world cross country gold medals and set the former world half marathon record with 58:01 in Copenhagen in 2019. 

The line-up also features Leul Gebresilase from Ethiopia, who set his PB of 2:04:02 in Dubai in 2018 and finished second in London in 2:05:12 and Rotterdam in 2:04:56 last year, Kenya's Vincent Kipchumba, who finished second in London in 2020 in 2:05:42 and 2021 in 2:04:28, Kinde Atanaw from Ethiopia, who finished fourth in his first appearance at the London Marathon in 2:05:27 last year and won in Valencia in 2019 in 2:03:51, Ethiopia's Seifu Tura, who won the Chicago Marathon in 2021 in 2:06:12 and finished second in the US marathon one year later in 2:04:49. 

Multiple 5000m and 10000m world and Olympic champion Mo Farah will run the London Marathon for the final time in his career. The British star, who turned 40 last March, ran the full London Marathon three times. He achieved his best result in 2018, when he finished third in 2:06:21. Later that year Farah won the Chicago Marathon in a national record of 2:05:11. A British man has not won the London Marathon since 1993, when Eamonn Martin crossed the finish-line at the Mall near Buckingham Palace. 

The other British top runners are Dewi Griffith, who set his PB of 2:09:49 in Frankfurt on his debut over the marathon distance in 2017, Chris Thompson, who won the national Olympic marathon Trials in his 2:10:52 in 2021, Weynay Ghebresialasie, an athlete of Eritrean origin, who set his PB of 2:11:57 to finish as the top British runner in London last year, Emile Cairess, who will make his marathon debut after finishing second to Jakob Ingebrigtsen at the European Cross Country Championships in Venaria Reale 2022, and Phil Sesemann, who was the top British runner in London in 2020 and improved his PB to 2:12:10 in last year's edition. 

Brett Robinson, who set the Oceanian record with 2:07:21 in Fukuoka last December, returns to London, where he finished eighth in 2:09:52.

Japan's Yuki Kawauchi will run his 114th marathon, but this year's edition will be his debut at the London Marathon. By crossing the finish line at the London Marathon on Sunday, Kawauchi will be eligible for the Abbott World Marathon Majors six-star medal for finishing all six Major Marathons (London, Tokyo, Boston, Berlin, Chicago and New York).

London Marathon Elite Field:

  • Amos Kipruto (KEN, PB 2:03:13)
  • Kenenisa Bekele (ETH, 2:01:41)
  • Kelvin Kiptum (KEN, 2:01:53)
  • Birhanu Legese (ETH, 2:02:48)
  • Mosinet Geremew (ETH, 2:02:55)
  • Tamirat Tola (ETH, 2:03:39)
  • Kinde Atanaw (ETH, 2:03:51)
  • Leul Gebresilase (ETH, 2:04:02)
  • Vincent Kipchumba (KEN, 2:04:28)
  • Seifu Tura (ETH, 2:04:29)
  • Sir Mo Farah (GBR, 2:05:11)
  • Geoffrey Kamworor (KEN, 2:05:23)
  • Brett Robinson (AUS, 2:07:31)
  • Dewi Griffiths (GBR, 2:09:49)
  • Rory Linkletter (CAN, 2:10:24)
  • Chris Thompson (GBR, 2:10:52)
  • Tom Gröschel (GER, 2:11:03)
  • Ben Connor (GBR, 2:11:20)
  • Joshua Griffiths (GBR, 2:11:28)
  • Frank Lara (USA, 2:11:32)
  • Luke Caldwell (GBR, 2:11:33)
  • Weynay Ghebresilasie (GBR, 2:11:57)
  • Phil Sesemann (GBR, 2:12:10)
  • Mohamud Aadan (2:12:20)
  • Charlie Hulson (GBR, 2:13:34)
  • Adam Craig (GBR, 2:13:58)
  • Alex Monroe (USA, 2:14:15)
  • Ross Braden (GBR, 2:14:32)
  • Nick Earl (GBR, 2:14:38)
  • Nigel Martin (GBR, 2:15:19)
  • Ronnie Richmond (GBR, 2:16:59)
  • Nick Bowker (GBR, 2:17:35)
  • Alex Milne (GBR, 2:17:40)
  • Josh Lunn (GBR, 2:17:59)
  • Fraser Stewart (GBR, 2:18:40)
  • Matthew Dickinson (GBR, 2:19:23)
  • Emile Cairess (GBR, debut)
  • Paulos Surafel (GBR, debut)
  • Sean Tobin (IRL, debut)
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