THE 2023 EDITION OF ENGLAND’S FINEST RACE IS PREVIEWED BY MATT LONG
Hugh Brasher, event Director of the TCS London Marathon, said: “This is quite simply the greatest women’s field ever assembled for a marathon”. The son of the 1956 Olympic steeplechase champion Chris Brasher continued to wax lyrical, adding that, “It’s arguably the greatest field ever assembled for a women’s distance race.
As current world record holder (2:14.04) and Olympic silver medallist, Bridgit Kosgei will look to repeat her previous wins in the capital from 2019 to 2020. She will face stiff competition from defending champion Yalemzerf Yehualaw (2:17.23), whose threat will grow the longer the race goes on as she is the reigning world record holder for 10k and can be expected to finish fast. The same can be said of World 1500m Record Holder Genzebe Dibaba, whose 2:18.05 from Amsterdam last year signifies her aerobic potential. Defining Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir (2:17.16) will want to add London to her bucket list, having won majors in both New York (2021) and Boston (2022).
The form book articulated above could, however, be thrown out of the window when one considers the potential of world-class debutants in the form of reigning Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan and Commonwealth 10,000m champion Eilish McColgan who hails from Scotland and whose mother Liz won this very race back in 1996. Not to be discounted are 2016 Olympic 10000m champion Almaz Ayana and reigning Berlin champion Tigist Assefa, the latter of whom is the fifth-fastest in woman in history.
In the Men’s race, all eyes will be on Kenyan 23-year-old Kelvin Kiptum, who exploded onto the marathon scene just last December with a barnstorming 2:01.53 to go straight in the history books as the fourth fastest human being of all time. This remarkable run looks ominous for his rival,s considering that it was also the fastest debut marathon in history, beating defending world marathon champion Tamirat Tola into the bargain. The Ethiopian 2016 World 10,000m bronze medallist will be there on the start line and, at 31 years of age, has experience on his side but is still young enough to do damage. 30-year-old Amos Kipruto took the title last year in 2:04.39 and has to be a real threat considering the 2019 World Championship bronze medallist went even faster in placing 2nd in Tokyo in the same year with 2:03.13.
Now in his fourth decade, there will be few more popular amongst the crowds who line the route than the second fastest man in history, Kenenisa Bekele. The three-time Olympic and five-time world champions have nothing left to prove, but with his 2:01.41 set in Berlin four years ago, expect him to feature early doors. Bekele still has enough in his armory to mix it with the very best, considering his 5th place in last year’s edition in 2:05:53 was a world masters record.
Don’t overlook the considerable talents of Birhanu Legese, whose 2:02.48 was set four years ago in Berlin. The 29-year-old Ethiopian has proven he has a racing pedigree by taking a world marathon major in Tokyo in 2019 and in successfully defending his title in 2020. His compatriot Mosinet Geremew is no stranger to the streets of England’s capital, having finished runner-up back in 2019 in what remains a lifetime best of 2:02.55. His two consecutive world championship silver medals over 26.2 miles in Doha and Eugene respectively, add to an already impressive resume.
The biggest cheer of the day will go to the now elder statesman of British running, Sir Mo Farah. The four-time Olympic champion boasts a PR of 2:05.11, but the fact that it was set in Chicago five long years ago is a nod to old father time ringing the bell on the 40-year-old’s illustrious career. It’s been exactly 30 years since Britain last heralded a male winner in the form of Eamonn Martin, and those who view the sport through nostalgia-tinted glasses will feel Sir Mo has the proverbial ‘punchers chance’ as they would say in boxing, but a famous win would be a huge upset at this twilight stage of his journey.
Matt Long served as an England Team Coach at the Commonwealth Games Marathon training Camp and has coached two athletes to become world champions. He welcomes contact through firstname.lastname@example.org
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