The three-time winner will return to the streets of the UK capital where, accompanied by male pacemakers, the world record will be in her sights
Reigning champion Mary Keitany is to return to the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 22 with her eye on another world record.
Last year the three-time London Marathon winner clocked 2:17:01 to smash the women-only marathon world record of 2:17:42 which had been set by Paula Radcliffe in London in 2005.
This time, organisers have announced that Keitany is to run with male pacemakers as she targets the overall women’s world record of 2:15:25 set by Radcliffe in London in 2003.
“The marathon world record is something that I have been working towards for several years and I feel I am now in the position where I can really attack the time of 2:15:25,” said Keitany.
“At last year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, I was feeling good but it was hard to run nearly half the race on my own. By having male pacemakers, I will be able to have the support throughout the race.
“Obviously, any world record is contingent on everything being right on the day. London has shown it has the course for world records to be broken and I hope my form and health stay strong and that the weather is kind on the day.”
The Kenyan added: “I know the record was set by Paula Radcliffe on this course in 2003 and that she is a very popular person in Great Britain but I really hope the London crowds get behind my challenge and can help drive me on to achieve something incredible.”
Just as @paulajradcliffe did when she set the world record at the 2003 #LondonMarathon, Keitany will be running with male pacemakers in her bid to run inside 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds. #EliteWeek pic.twitter.com/feV48sVrfZ
— London Marathon (@LondonMarathon) January 25, 2018
During her win in London last year, Keitany clocked 66:54 for the the fastest ever women’s half-marathon split in a marathon, but her pace began to slow slightly as her pacemaker fell away.
Hugh Brasher, London Marathon event director, said: “Paula Radcliffe’s world record at the 2003 London Marathon was one of the greatest sporting achievements ever seen, and we are hugely excited to learn that Mary feels in a position to challenge that run.
“No one has got near Paula’s mark for 15 years and for Mary to commit to attacking it shows her courage and the belief in her athletic ability. It is fitting that the bid to break the record will take place in London where Paula’s record was set and this is yet another example of the incredible stature of the Virgin Money London Marathon. The world’s greatest athletes want to come here to create history.”
As well as going up against the clock, Keitany will also take on the already-announced Tirunesh Dibaba in London, while world champion Rose Chelimo also forms part of the elite women’s field.
The announcement of Keitany for the London Marathon comes on the final day of the event’s ‘Elite Week’, with full elite fields also having been announced. The elite men’s entry list is here, while the women’s is here and the elite wheelchair & World Para Athletics fields are here.
This evening, at 18:00 GMT, the Virgin Money London Marathon will host a Facebook Live show featuring former British distance running international Tim Hutchings, the Virgin Money London Marathon elite field co-ordinator and former world 10,000m record holder Dave Bedford and AW’s web editor Jess Whittington.