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For the first time since the onset of the pandemic, the London Marathon returns to its usual April slot this year, and there will be more attention than ever on the men’s race. Partly because athletics fans have missed the early Spring showdown in its full glory, but perhaps more importantly because four of the five fastest men in the world will be entering the field. A year out from Paris, distance running fanatics and Cyprus sports betting experts will be focusing closely on a field with plenty of veterans and no shortage of younger challengers. It promises to be a real occasion.

This year will be slightly marred by the absence of Eliud Kipchoge, who has won the race four times in the past. In 2023, he has chosen to focus on his first attempt at the Boston Marathon, and has left the field open to other runners which, gratifyingly, includes the defending champion Amos Kipruto. Also present, competing for the last time in this event (and possibly his final race as a pro), will be Mo Farah. It will be an emotional farewell of some sort for Farah – we just don’t know how emotional and how much of a farewell. He’s an outsider for the race, though, behind the following contenders.

Amos Kipruto

Kipruto has a slower PB over the distance than a lot of the men running here, but he does have the benefit of having shown the required form over the course. That counts for a lot, particularly in an event as prestigious as the London Marathon. Kipruto is in good spirits in the lead-up to the race, and sounds confident that he can defend his title. It’s going to be up to the other runners to show that they can master the famous course; knowing when to press an advantage is going to be important, and Kipruto will be reassured by the knowledge that he’s the only confirmed competitor to have won the race before.

Kenenisa Bekele

Although he is now into his forties, Bekele is running just as fast as some of the twentysomethings in this race, and has been setting course records in the past year. He has the third-fastest marathon time in history – behind only Kipchoge – and he certainly has the confidence to take on all comers, having declared in the last year that he is the best distance runner of all time. Bekele will probably take a back seat in the odds when they come out, but he will never take a back seat in the field, and he will be well worth watching when the starting pistol is fired.

Kenenisa Bekele (Mark Shearman)

Kelvin Kiptum

Having built up his reputation running half-marathons, Kiptum burst on to the full-distance scene in Valencia in December. His debut marathon was run in 2:01:53, the fourth-fastest ever over the distance, and left favourite and World champion Tamirat Tola in his rear-view mirror. London will be a different challenge altogether, but he’s already shown the ability to make a step up without flinching, so we could see Kiptum tick off another career milestone at the age of just 23.