Farah to face Kipsang and Kiprotich in London

World marathon record-holder and Olympic champion among those to challenge debutant Mo Farah over 26.2 miles in April

Mo Farah road running (Mark Shearman)

Mo Farah will take on a tough line-up including the likes of Kenya’s world record-holder Wilson Kipsang when he makes his debut over 26.2 miles at the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 13.

The double Olympic and world champion, who ran the first half of the London race in 2013 in preparation, will also go up against Olympic and world marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich, course record holder Emmanuel Mutai and defending champion Tsegaye Kebede in a race he says he expects to be one of his toughest and a ”real learning experience”.

Although Farah may have an eye on the long-standing UK record of 2:07:13, there are eight men in the field who have run quicker, led by Kipsang with 2:03:23 recorded at the Berlin Marathon last September. Eamonn Martin was the last British man to win the London Marathon, back in 1993.

“I gained a lot of valuable experience running part of the course alongside the top guys last year and can’t wait to race over the full distance this April,” said Farah, who ran his fastest half marathon when finishing behind Kenenisa Bekele in the Great North Run last September.

“The London Marathon always attracts the world’s best runners to its elite fields and this year will be no different. I am expecting it to be one of my toughest races and a real learning experience.

“I had another great year on the track in 2013,” continued the 30-year-old, who last year added world 5000m and 10,000m gold to his Olympic titles claimed the summer before, “but the marathon is my main focus for this year. As a young boy growing up in London it has always been my ambition to run 
the London Marathon and to be able to make my marathon debut in my home town is very special.”

Of the eight members of the field that have run quicker than the UK record, three of those – Kipsang, Mutai and namesake Geoffrey Mutai – have broken 2:04, though Geoffrey Mutai’s 2:03:02 at the Boston Marathon in 2011 does not count as the world record because of the nature of the course.

Kipsang, who won the London Marathon in 2012 a few months before claiming Olympic bronze, finished fifth in last year’s race where Kebede claimed the title for the second time.

Farah will also be keeping an eye on Ibrahim Jeilan, who is also making his marathon debut, with the pair having challenged each other a number of times on the track and the Ethiopian having beaten Farah to the 2011 world 10,000m title in Daegu.

Britain’s Scott Overall and Chris Thompson also feature in the elite men’s line-up, with the women’s field to be announced next week.

“Of course, much attention in Britain will focus on the performance of Mo Farah and we are very pleased that he has chosen London to make his marathon debut,” commented race director Hugh Brasher. “But it will be an extremely tough challenge for Mo with the quality of the elite field as high as ever.

“The London Marathon is rightly known one of the hardest races in the world to win, and the line-up of world-class talent we are announcing today shows that 2014 will be no exception.”

Elite men’s field with personal bests

Wilson Kipsang (KEN) 2:03:23 World record-holder
Emmanuel Mutai (KEN) 2:03:52 London Marathon record-holder
Geoffrey Mutai (KEN) 2:04:15* 2013 New York Marathon champion
Ayele Abshero (ETH) 2:04:23 2012 Dubai Marathon champion
Feyisa Lilesa (ETH) 2:04:32 2011 world bronze medallist
Tsegaye Kebede (ETH) 2:04:38 2013 London Marathon champion
Stanley Biwott (KEN) 2:05:12 2012 Paris Marathon champion
Marilson dos Santos (BRA) 2:06:34 Twice New York Marathon champion
Martin Mathathi (KEN) 2:07:16 2013 Fukuoka Marathon champion
Stephen Kiprotich (UGA) 2:07:20 World and Olympic marathon champion
Samuel Tsegay (ERI) 2:07:28
Mustapha El Aziz (MAR) 2:07:55
Amanuel Mesel (ERI) 2:08:17
Scott Overall (GBR) 2:10:55
Ryan Vail (USA) 2:11:45
Mo Farah (GBR) Debut, world and Olympic 5000m & 10,000m champion
Ibrahim Jeilan (ETH) Debut, 2011 world 10,000m champion
Chris Thompson (GBR) Debut
Ben Livesey (GBR) Debut

* Geoffrey Mutai ran 2:03:02 at the 2011 Boston Marathon but this time is ineligible due to the nature of the course

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