Full line-ups for October 4 showpiece confirmed, with world record-holders competing and Sir Mo Farah acting as pacemaker
Event organisers have confirmed the full athlete line-ups for October’s Virgin Money London Marathon, with a number of the biggest names in endurance running preparing to descend upon the UK capital.
As expected, world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele – the two fastest marathon runners in history – will headline the men’s event, while Brigid Kosgei, who entered the history books with her run of 2:14:04 in Chicago two years ago, leads the women’s field.
As announced earlier this month, this year’s event will only feature an elite race, with athletes competing on a closed-loop circuit around St James’s Park in central London, yet The 40th Race still looks like being one to remember.
Fierce men’s field will feature Farah pacing Olympic hopefuls
The four-time London winner Kipchoge (PB 2:01:39) and Bekele (2:01:41) will be at the forefront of a field which will include eight athletes who have run sub 2:05 marathons, including Ethiopians Mosinet Geremew and Mule Wasihun, who were second and third to the Kenyan superstar in 2019. Ethiopians Sisay Lemma, Tamirat Tola, and Shura Kitata, as well as Kenyan Marius Kipserem, are the other athletes to have run inside 2:05, while Norwegian Sondre Nordstad Moen – with a marathon best of 2:05:48 – will also compete.
One other area of real interest, however, comes with the news that four-time Olympic champion and British marathon record-holder Sir Mo Farah will be a pacemaker to those athletes looking to achieve the Olympic marathon qualifying standard of 2:11:30.
“The London Marathon has been so important to me since I was a schoolboy and when they asked me to do this I thought it would be great to help,” he said. “I am in good shape, I’ll be in London that week and it fits in with my training.
“I’ve been training in Font Romeu with some of the British guys who are going for that Olympic qualifying time and they are good lads. I know just how special it is just to compete for your country at an Olympic Games and it would be great to help other athletes achieve this. With the current global situation and lack of races, the Virgin Money London Marathon in October is the best chance for athletes to run the Olympic qualifying time.”
Event Director Hugh Brasher added: “This is the greatest Olympian in British track and field history coming to run as a pacemaker to help others achieve their dreams of making the Tokyo Olympic Games. It is a wonderful gesture of togetherness from Sir Mo and I’m sure his presence and support will inspire the athletes chasing that qualifying time on Sunday 4 October.”
Other than Farah, only Callum Hawkins, who is pre-selected for the Olympic Games marathon, and Jonny Mellor (2:10:03) are the British athletes to have run inside this time. Mellor will feature in London and is joined by Chris Thompson and debutants Ross Millington and Ben Connor.
Details of the full elite men’s field can be found here
Kosgei on the charge while Twell heads British challenge
The elite women’s field is headlined by Kenyan star Kosgei, with last year’s London winner joined by five other women who have run inside 2:20. Those are current Kenyan world champion Ruth Chepngetich, Ethiopia’s 2019 Valencia Marathon champion Roza Dereje, Kenyan 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot, Kenyan 2019 Frankfurt Marathon winner Valary Jemeli and Ethiopian Amsterdam Marathon champion Degitu Azimeraw.
Ethiopia’s Ashete Bekere, winner of last year’s BMW Berlin Marathon, compatriot Alemu Megertu, the 2019 Rome Marathon champion, plus American Sarah Hall and Australian Sinead Diver are also included in a star-studded race.
Among the leading British women confirmed to race are Steph Twell, who ran a personal best of 2:26:40 in Frankfurt last year to go sixth on the national all-time rankings, and 2018 British marathon champion Lily Partridge.
British athletes Aly Dixon, Dani Nimmock and Charlotte Arter will also be on pacemaking duties, with the women’s Olympic qualification standard 2:29:30.
Details of the full elite women’s field can be found here
The races, which will also include a wheelchair race, will be held in a secure biosphere as has been the case with other major sporting events such as Test Cricket and Formula 1. No spectators will be allowed on the road-side to watch. BBC Sport, however, is planning eight hours of live coverage of the event.