World and Olympic champion set to go head-to-head with likes of Edna Kiplagat at half-marathon event in September
Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba is the latest addition to a star-studded Bupa Great North Run line-up.
The five-time world and three-time Olympic track gold medallist is set to return to the roads for the first time since her victory at the Bupa Great Manchester Run 10km in May, going head-to-head with Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat over the half-marathon distance on Tyneside on September 7, while Mo Farah is among those set to compete in the men’s race.
Dibaba has only raced twice this year, once at the Great Manchester Run and once the month before that at the London Marathon where the 28-year-old made her debut over 26.2 miles.
The Ethiopian beat her Kenyan rival in a sprint finish in the 2012 Bupa Great North Run, but Kiplagat turned the tables in London in April as she claimed victory ahead of her namesake Florence Kiplagat, Dibaba finishing third in 2:20:35 to become the third fastest-ever female marathon debutante behind only Britain’s world record-holder Paula Radcliffe and Kenya’s Lucy Kabuu.
Only four women have won the elite women’s races at the Great North Run and the London Marathon in the same year – Liz McColgan in 1996, Joyce Chepchumba in 1999, Radcliffe in 2003 and Priscah Jeptoo in 2013 – so Dibaba will face a strong challenge from two-time world marathon champion Kiplagat as she aims to become the fifth to achieve the feat.
Kiplagat’s fellow Kenyan and former London Marathon winner Mary Keitany will also be a big threat. Former world record-holder for the half-marathon with 65:50, Keitany also has a 2:18:37 marathon best to her name clocked when winning in London in April 2012. Kiplagat’s PB for 13.1 miles is 68:48 from 2013, while Dibaba’s half-marathon best is 66:56 recorded on a downhill point-to-point course.
Britain’s double world, Olympic and European track champion Farah is another set to return to road race action on Tyneside next month. The 31-year-old had his summer plans interrupted by illness and was forced to withdraw from the 5000m and 10,000m at the Commonwealth Games, though he returned to fitness in time to again do the European double in Zurich. Among Farah’s challengers will be world and Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich.
Lord Seb Coe is to be the official starter for the run, the two-time Olympic gold medallist setting the 57,000 participants on their way in an event that will this year become the first running event in the world to have its one millionth finisher. To celebrate the milestone the organisers are throwing a party on the banks of the Tyne on September 4, with that event to be put together by the creative team behind the London 2012 ceremonies.
» For further details see greatrun.org