What you need to know:
- Kirui admitted that the field in London has all ingredients for an epic race, but believes he will do well after his training.
- Kirui will face training partner Eliud Kipchoge, who is also the Olympic marathon champion, in the race and predicted that the strongest athlete will carry the day.
With a stellar field that includes the defending champion, past winners and other long distance greats, this year’s London Marathon promises to be a tough one to predict.
Being the third race in the World Marathon Majors series after Tokyo and Boston marathons, Kenyans will be out to defend the titles won last year by Daniel Wanjiru (men) and Mary Keitany (women). Both are in the start list for Sunday's race in the United Kingdom capital.
But former two-time World Marathon champion Abel Kirui is unconcerned by the field he faces and odds that are stark against him and remains optimistic of a podium finish after what he describes as a “great training schedule” for the race.
Nation Sport caught up with Kirui at the Global Sports Communication camp in Kaptagat, Elgeyo Marakwet County after his long-run training.
“I did my training well. I have been careful not to pick up any injury and if possible, I think I can win the race,” Kirui said.
“I took some few days to rest after Chicago Marathon last year before starting preps for the London race. It has been a long journey.”
Kirui admitted that the field in London has all ingredients for an epic race, but believes he will do well after his training.
KIPCHOGE IN THE START LIST
Kirui will face training partner Eliud Kipchoge, who is also the Olympic marathon champion, in the race and predicted that the strongest athlete will carry the day.
“Having trained with Kipchoge, I know his strengths and weaknesses but we will run together in the first pack up to the 35km mark. From there, it will be everybody for himself,” added the Administration Police officer.
Kirui won his World Championships titles in 2009 in Berlin and in 2011 (Daegu) before claiming silver in the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Wanjiru won the race last year in 2:05:48 ahead of Kenenisa Bekele (2:05:57) while Bedan Karoki (2:07:41) was third as Kirui wound fourth.
The same athletes, plus Britain’s long distance legend Mo Farah, will be battling it out on Sunday with Kipchoge eyeing a comeback after missing last years’ edition due to Nike’s sub two project in May. Kipchoge won the London race in 2015 and 2016.
The women's race consists of defending champion Mary Keitany, Berlin Marathon winner Gladys Cherono, Honolulu Marathon champion Brigid Kosgei and 5,000m Olympic champion Vivian Cheruiyot.
Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, who finished second behind Keitany last year, and Mare Dibaba could also spring a surprise in the race.
2018 Virgin Money London Marathon Elite Men's Field
Daniel Wanjiru, Kenya
Age: 24 | Marathon PB: 2:05:21
2017 Virgin Money London Marathon champion
Kenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia
Age: 35 | Marathon PB: 2:03:03
2016 Berlin Marathon champion
Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya
Age: 33 | Marathon PB: 2:03:05
2016 Olympic champion
Guye Adola, Ethiopia
Age: 27 | Marathon PB: 2:03:46
2016 Berlin Marathon 2nd place
Abel Kirui, Kenya
Age: 35 | Marathon PB: 2:05:04
2009 and 2011 World Marathon champion
Lawrence Cherono, Kenya
Age: 29 | Marathon PB: 2:05:09
2017 Amsterdam Marathon champion
Tola Shura Kitata, Ethiopia
Age: 21 | Marathon PB: 2:05:50
2017 Frankfurt Marathon champion
Bedan Karoki, Kenya
Age: 27 | Marathon PB: 2:07:41
2017 RAK Half Marathon champion
Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, Eritrea
Age: 22 | Marathon PB: 2:07:46
2015 marathon world champion
Yohanes Gebregergish, Eritrea
Age: 29 | Marathon PB: 2:08:14
Amanuel Mesel, Eritrea
Age: 27 | Marathon PB: 2:08:17
Mo Farah, Great Britain
Age: 34 | Marathon PB: 2:08:21
Double Olympic 10,000m & 5,000m champion; three-time 10,000m & 5,000m world champion
Tatsunori Hamasaki, Japan
Age: 28 | Marathon PB: 2:11:26
Fernando Cabada, USA
Age: 35 | Marathon PB: 2:11:36
2015 Chicago Marathon third place
Ihor Olefirenko, Ukraine
Age: 30 | Marathon PB: 2:12:04
Tsegai Tewelde, Great Britain
Age: 28 | Marathon PB: 2:12:23
Jonny Mellor, Great Britain
Age: 31 | Marathon PB: 2:12:57
Samuel Chelanga, USA
Age: 32 | Marathon PB: 2:15:02
Aaron Scott, Great Britain
Age: 28 | Marathon PB: 2:17:46
Stephen Scullion, Ireland
Age: 29 | Marathon PB: 2:17:59
Matthew Clowes, Great Britain
Age: 28 | Marathon PB: Debut