Top line-up includes four sub-2:20 athletes plus Tirunesh Dibaba, debutant Vivian Cheruiyot and Britons battling for London 2017 places
Kenya’s Olympic champion Jemima Sumgong is to defend her Virgin Money London Marathon title on April 23 when she forms part of a stacked elite women’s field.
Four sub-2:20 athletes and nine who have gone quicker than 2:22 are included in the line-up, with Ethiopian track great Tirunesh Dibaba returning to marathon racing, Kenya’s Olympic 5000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot making her debut over 26.2 miles and British athletes battling for IAAF World Championships spots.
Sumgong’s 2016 victory in London came despite a heavy mid-race fall and the 32-year-old went on to make history in Rio when she became the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic marathon title.
World champion Mare Dibaba bagged bronze in Brazil and the Ethiopian will be one of Sumgong’s main rivals in London.
“London is the marathon every runner wants to win,” said Sumgong. “I can’t wait to return to defend my title.”
The line-up for April also includes the other two medallists from last year’s London Marathon – Ethiopia’s 2015 winner Tigist Tufa and Kenya’s half-marathon world record-holder Florence Kiplagat.
The quickest on paper is again Mary Keitany and the Kenyan will be aiming to become only the fourth woman to win the London Marathon three times after completing a hat-trick of New York City Marathon titles last November.
Keitany became the second fastest women marathon runner of all time when she won her second London Marathon in 2:18:37 in 2012. After finishing runner-up in 2015, the 34-year-old could only place ninth last April after she was involved in the collision that brought down Sumgong. That ultimately cost Keitany a place on Kenya’s team for Rio.
“I love running in London,” said Keitany. “After the sickness I had before the race and the fall last year during the race, I want to show everyone what I can do. My goal is to win the Virgin Money London Marathon for the third time and to demonstrate to everybody that I could have won the Olympic Games last year if I had been selected.”
Last year’s Tokyo Marathon champion and 2015 world silver medallist Helah Kiprop of Kenya completes the quintet of Kenyans, while the two Dibabas and Tufa are joined by fellow Ethiopians Aberu Kebede, who has won the Berlin Marathon three times, and 2010 London champion Aselefech Mergia.
Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix returns after placing eighth in London in 2015 before finishing 16th in Rio, while another Rio Olympian, Alyson Dixon, will be looking for a World Championships place as she goes up against fellow Britons Louise Damen, Charlotte Purdue and Susan Partridge.
“This is a stellar field and everyone who is anyone in women’s marathon running will be in London on April 23,” said event director Hugh Brasher. “We look forward to a fantastic race and the London crowds are certain to be out in force to cheer home the world’s greatest runners.”
2017 Virgin Money London Marathon elite women’s field and personal bests
Jemima Sumgong (KEN) 2:20:41
Mary Keitany (KEN) 2:18:37
Aselefech Mergia (ETH) 2:19:31
Florence Kiplagat (KEN) 2:19:44
Mare Dibaba (ETH) 2:19:52
Aberu Kebede (ETH) 2:20:30
Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) 2:20:35
Helah Kiprop (KEN) 2:21:27
Tigist Tufa (ETH) 2:21:52
Ana Dulce Felix (POR) 2:25:15
Lisa Weightman (AUS) 2:26:05
Andrea Deelstra (NED) 2:26:46
Maja Neuenschwander (SUI) 2:26:49
Diana Lobacevske (LTU) 2:28:03
Laura Thweatt (USA) 2:28:23
Krista DuChene (CAN) 2:28:32
Kellyn Taylor (USA) 2:28:40
Alyson Dixon (GBR) 2:29:30
Louise Damen (GBR) 2:30:00
Charlotte Purdue (GBR) 2:30:04
Maryna Damantsevich (BLR) 2:30:07
Susan Partridge (GBR) 2:30:46
Tracy Barlow (GBR) 2:32:05
Jenny Spink (GBR) 2:35:57
Yelena Dolinin (ISR) 2:35:59
Tish Jones (GBR) 2:36:13
Barbara Sanchez (IRL) 2:37:14
Hanna Vandenbussche (BEL) 2:38:35
Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) Debut