The Olympic marathon silver medallist makes his debut at the event against three-time winner Mo Farah
Feyisa Lilesa is to join Mo Farah, Dathan Ritzenhein and Bernard Lagat in racing the Simplyhealth Great North Run on Sunday (September 10).
Making his debut at the event, Olympic marathon silver medallist Lilesa is set to pose a strong challenge to 10-time global track gold medallist Farah, who is on the hunt for his fourth consecutive victory on the Newcastle to South Shields course.
The Ethiopian has a half-marathon PB of 59:22 run in 2012, while he won the United Airlines NYC Half earlier this year as he outsprinted Britain’s Callum Hawkins, 60:04 to 60:08.
Farah’s best for 13.1 miles also stands at 59:22 from the 2015 edition of the Great North Run.
Arizona-based Lilesa, who is working towards the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 8, has not been back to Ethiopia since his silver medal-winning run at the Olympics last summer. In Rio 12 months ago – and at the NYC Half in March – the 27-year-old made a brave stand against violence in his home country, crossing his arms above his head as he finished the races in a symbol of solidarity with his Oromo people.
Joining Farah and Lilesa in challenging for this year’s Great North Run title will be Ritzenhein – runner-up behind Farah in 2016 – and his fellow American Lagat, plus New Zealand twins Zane and Jake Robertson and Japanese duo Hiroyuki Yamamoto and Daichi Kamino.
A strong women’s field features Olympic 5000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot, who returns to defend her title, plus fellow Kenyan Mary Keitany, the women-only marathon world record-holder and two-time Great North Run winner.
The Simplyhealth Great North Run will be broadcast live on BBC One on Sunday September 10 from 9.30am-1.30pm, with highlights on BBC Two at 6pm. For more information, visit greatrun.org/north.