Get set for Sunday’s action in the UK capital, where Kenenisa Bekele and Mary Keitany are eyeing record times and GB’s top marathoners will be racing for World Championships places
Thousands of runners will take to the streets of the UK capital this weekend as the Virgin Money London Marathon returns for its 37th edition.
Top elite fields have again been assembled for the race on Sunday (April 23), with Kenenisa Bekele and Mary Keitany among those eyeing record-breaking performances.
We take a look at some of the elite athletes in action below, including some of the British marathoners who will be racing for places on GB’s team for the IAAF World Championships in London this summer. In order to book their spot to join the already-selected Callum Hawkins on the GB marathon team, athletes will need to finish as one of the top two Britons on The Mall on Sunday and also have achieved the qualifying standards of 2:16:00 for men and 2:36:00 for women.
The wheelchair races will see Britain’s six-time Paralympic gold medallist David Weir go for his seventh London Marathon title, while Switzerland’s Manuela Schar and Marcel Hug are back in action after their victories at Monday’s Boston Marathon, where they both clocked the quickest ever times for the distance.
The World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup is incorporated in Sunday’s event and Derek Rae, who goes in the T45/46 event for arm amputees, is also among those in action as he returns to the event at which he set an unofficial British record of 2:37:28 last year.
Before the elites take to the streets, a number of talented young runners will race over the last three miles of the London Marathon course as they compete for Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon titles.
The event is the official British Athletics three-mile road championships for 11 to 17-year-olds, with races taking place from Old Billingsgate to The Mall.
For a much more in-depth preview to this weekend’s action, including a look at the elite races, interviews with Jo Pavey, Charlotte Purdue, Chris Thompson and Vivian Cheruiyot, plus more on the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon races, see the April 20 edition of AW magazine, in shops now and available to buy and read digitally here.
Elite races – ones to watch
1 Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) PB: 2:03:03
His third place in London last year was particularly impressive given that he was not fully fit. The triple Olympic champion and all-time great was the fastest marathoner on the planet last year and he will not only be eyeing victory in London but Eliud Kipchoge’s course record of 2:03:05. Dennis Kimetto’s world mark may well come under threat, too.
4 Feyisa Lilesa (ETH) PB: 2:04:52
Lilesa had an impressive 2016, winning in Tokyo as well as taking Olympic silver behind Kipchoge in Rio. He is looking sharp this year, too, having just edged out Callum Hawkins to win last month’s New York half-marathon in a time of 60:04.
5 Abel Kirui (KEN) PB: 2:05:04
The double world champion produced a surprise win in Chicago last year, his first major marathon victory in five years. He has not raced London since coming fifth in 2012, the same year he also won the Olympic silver medal in the British capital.
8 Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (ERI) PB: 2:07:46
Having surprised many by becoming world champion in 2015 at the age of just 19, the Eritrean underlined his potential by winning the New York City marathon and finishing fourth in Rio last year. He was also fourth in London 12 months ago.
17 Scott Overall (GBR) PB: 2:10:55
The quickest marathon runner among the British field, the 2012 Olympian’s PB came in Berlin six years ago and he knows the London course well. Missed out on Rio selection after failing to finish last year and will be out to recapture his form of 2015, when he was first Briton at London and finished 10th in Berlin in 2:11:24.
19 Chris Thompson (GBR) 2:11:19
Has struggled with injury but is determined to put in a strong performance with his eye on making the GB IAAF World Championships team.
35 Bedan Karoki (KEN) Debut
Having impressed over the half-marathon distance, with a PB of 59:10 clocked in Ras Al Khaimah in February, the 26-year-old steps up to take on 26.2 miles for the first time.
102 Mary Keitany (KEN) PB: 2:18:37
The two-time champion is this year’s favourite and has Paula Radcliffe’s women-only world record in her sights. The Kenyan finished ninth in London last year after suffering a fall but bounced back to claim her third New York City Marathon win in November after her victories in 2014 and 2015.
104 Florence Kiplagat (KEN) PB: 2:19:44
The 2015 and 2016 Chicago Marathon champion will be looking to improve on her London runner-up finish from 2014 and her third place from last year. The former half-marathon world record-holder is the third quickest on paper.
105 Mare Dibaba (ETH) PB: 2:19:52
The world champion and Olympic bronze medallist placed sixth last year on her London Marathon debut and will again challenge for further World Marathon Majors success after being upgraded to 2014 Boston runner-up and Chicago champion after the disqualification of Rita Jeptoo.
107 Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) PB: 2:20:35
The three-time Olympic and five-time world track gold medallist returns to the event at which she ran her marathon debut in 2014. The 31-year-old, who has since had her first child, born in March 2015, is contesting her first marathon since her debut.
116 Jo Pavey (Exeter) PB: 2:28:24
Pavey is the quickest on paper out of the British elites in action, with her PB having been set in London on her marathon
debut in 2011. The 43-year-old hopes to improve her personal best and secure World Championships selection to become the only Briton – male or female – to have represented her nation at world level in every distance from 1500m up to the marathon.
121 Charlotte Purdue (AFD) PB: 2:30:04
Another serious contender for a World Championships place, Purdue has proved her promise in the marathon after clocking 2:32:48 on her debut in London last year, when she finished as third Briton. The 25-year-old improved her PB to 2:30:04 in Frankfurt later that year and won the Reading Half Marathon in 72:15 last month.
119 Alyson Dixon (Sunderland) PB: 2:29:30
Dixon will be looking to secure another GB vest after she finished 13th and top Briton in last year’s London Marathon to book her spot for the Rio Olympic Games, where she placed 28th. Her PB was set in Berlin in 2015.
8:40 – Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon
8:55 – London 2017 World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup in association with the Virgin Money London Marathon elite wheelchair race
9:00 – London 2017 World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup (ambulant athletes)
9:15 – Virgin Money London Marathon for elite women
10:00 – Elite men and the British Athletics and England Athletics Championships for men and women and the Virgin Money London Marathon mass start
The race will be broadcast live on BBC One from 8:30-14:30, with highlights at 18:00-19:00 on BBC Two. There will also be live radio coverage on BBC Radio Five Live.
» The April 20 edition of AW magazine is a London Marathon preview special and is available in shops now or to read digitally here
Interview: Jo Pavey looks to London
News: Tom Anderson hopes to follow in father’s footsteps
Interview: Chrissie Wellington’s next steps
News: Mary Keitany eyes London Marathon hat-trick in record time
Top tips: Jo Pavey’s marathon advice
Video: Top British athletes look ahead to London Marathon
News: Bedan Karoki seeks strong marathon debut in London