Former world-record holder Wilson Kipsang will defend his London Marathon title in a mile-by-mile bout against fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto, the man who made history last year when he broke Kipsang’s record to become the first man ever to run 26.2 miles in less than two hours three minutes.
Kimetto, who clocked 2:02:57 in last September’s Berlin Marathon, will make his London Marathon debut in April, while Kipsang takes on the iconic course for the fourth time having won in 2012 and 2014. The two are training partners in the Kenyan town of Iten but have never faced each other over the marathon distance.
The 32-year-old has won eight marathons in his career, including his last three races, and was crowned the 2013-2014 World Marathon Majors champion after winning the 2014 New York City Marathon last November.
“I would love to join the London Marathon legends by winning a third title,” said Kipsang, who took the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“London always has the best fields but with Dennis in the line-up this year it promises to be a bruising battle. I certainly won’t give up my title without a fight, but let’s see who has the knock-out blow.”
The 30-year-old Kimetto, a relative late-comer to world-class distance running, ran the fastest ever debut marathon when he finished second in Berlin in 2012. He has since won three World Marathon Majors races, taking victory at the 2013 Tokyo and Chicago Marathons before last year’s triumph in the German capital when he averaged four minutes 41 seconds per mile to break the historic 2:03 barrier.
“I broke Wilson’s world record in Berlin last year and now I want his London Marathon crown,” said Kimetto. “I am relishing the chance to face my friend over the famous course. I know it won’t be easy but I am confident I can go the distance whatever he throws at me.”
Virgin Money London Marathon race director Hugh Brasher said: “Having the current and former world-record holders in the same race, going stride for stride for the first time, is a real coup for us on our 35th anniversary, and a thrilling prospect for marathon fans.
“Wilson is familiar with our course and showed last year why he is already regarded as one of the greatest marathon runners of all time. But Dennis arrives as a history-maker after making headlines around the world a few months ago. It would take a brave man to predict which one will be left standing on 26 April.”
The Kenyan pair are just two of the big hitters in a magnificent men’s elite field announced today that includes the three quickest marathon runners of all time (on legitimate courses); five of the world’s all-time top 10; and eight men in total who have run sub-2:05.
And that’s without counting the legendary Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the triple Olympic track gold medallist, and multiple world-record breaker, who makes his London Marathon debut in what is scheduled to be his fourth race over the distance.
Bekele ran 2:05:04 to win the Paris Marathon in 2014, but such is the quality of the London field that he is only the ninth quickest in the line-up and third fastest Ethiopian behind 2012 Dubai Marathon champion Ayele Abshero and Tsegaye Mekonnen, who became the fastest junior in history when he won the Dubai race last January.
Kipsang and Kimetto are joined by four other strong Kenyans, including 2011 London champion Emmanuel Mutai, who ran the second quickest time ever when finishing runner-up to Kimetto in Berlin last year; Eliud Kipchoge, the former world 5000m champion who won the 2014 Chicago Marathon last October; and Sammy Kitwara, who was second in Chicago and third in Tokyo last year.
Last year’s runner-up Stanley Biwott, another sub-2:05 man, returns to the London Marathon seeking to go one better in 2015, while a former Rotterdam Marathon champion, Tilahun Regassa, is the fourth Ethiopian in the field with a best of 2:05:27.
British interest rests with Scott Overall, a 2012 Olympian who was fifth at the Berlin Marathon in 2011, and Steve Way, the 40-year-old reformed drinker and smoker who broke the British veterans’ record to finish 10th at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The 2015 men’s elite line-up and their best marathon times:
Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) 2:03:23
Dennis Kimetto (Kenya) 2:02:57
Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) 2:03:13
Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) 2:04:05
Ayele Abshero (Ethiopia) 2:04:23
Sammy Kitwara (Kenya) 2:04:28
Tsegaye Mekonnen (Ethiopia) 2:04:32
Stanley Biwott (Kenya) 2:04:55
Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) 2:05:04
Tilahun Regassa (Ethiopia) 2:05:27
Samuel Tsegay (Eritrea) 2:07:28
Serhiy Lebid (Ukraine) 2:08:32
Aleksey Reunkov (Russia) 2:09:54
Ghebrezgiabhier Kibrom (Eritrea) 2:10:00
Marcin Chabowski (Poland) 2:10:07
Koen Raymaekers (Netherlands) 2:10:35
Scott Overall (Great Britain & NI) 2:10:55
Michael Shelley (Australia) 2:11:15
Javier Guerra (Spain) 2:12:21
Steve Way (Great Britain & NI) 2:15:16
Christian Kreienbühl (Germany) 2:15:35
Pedro Ribeiro (Portugal) Debut