Kipruto Kenya’s lone hope in men’s field, women’s race too close to call

Joyciline Jepkosgei

Physiotherapist Shadrack Kochom attends to Joyciline Jepkosgei at De Vere Beaumont Estate, Windsor on October 1, 2022 on the eve of London Marathon.

Photo credit: Ayumba Ayodi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Bekele, Legese, Lemma lead formidable Ethiopian men pack, defending women’s champ Jepkosgei faces stern challenge
  • World record holder Kenya’s Kosgei, world champion Tola of Ethiopia, among big names not racing on Sunday

It may have been hit by late withdrawals but the 42nd edition of the London Marathon on Sunday in the British capital promises to be a thriller.

Close to 40,000 runners have registered for this year’s race that will be staged for the very first time with a new monarch in place following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8.

King Charles III has since ascended to the throne.

The marathon also has a new sponsor, global IT advisory firm Tata Consultancy Services.

Elite women’s race will get underway at 11am (Kenyan time) followed by elite men’s race at 11.40am, all from Charlton Way before ending at St James’s Park overlooking Buckingham Palace.

Kenya’s elite athletes that are among the major withdrawals owing to injuries are women’s world record holder and 2020 and 2021 champion, Brigid Kosgei and the 2020 and 2021 London Marathon runner-up, Vincent Kipchumba.

Ethiopia’s World marathon champion Tamirat Tola, who was the first to withdraw followed by fellow country man Mosinet Geremew.

Home hero Mo Farah, who was to run his first marathon in three years, threw in the towel this week following a hip injury.

Kipchumba’s withdrawal saw Kenya’s 2019 World marathon bronze medallist Amos Kipruto thrown into a sea of some of the world's finest long distance runners from Ethiopia.

In the absence of Kosgei, women’s defending champion Joycilline Jepkosgei will lead Kenya’s assault alongside world marathon silver medallist Judith Korir and 2021and 2022 Boston Marathon third place Mary Wacera.

This  is the first time in many years that Kenya is being represented by one athlete in the men’s race.

Kipruto goes for victory

mos Kipruto, who finished second behind Olympic champion and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge at Tokyo Marathon in March this year, will be aiming to recapture the title Kipchoge won in 2019 in a course record time of two hours, two minutes and 37 seconds.

Kipchoge has won in London four times, twice in course record time, in 2016 in 2:03:05 and 2019 in 2:02:37.

The men’s field still looks intriguing with six men who have run under two hours and four minutes including Kipruto and defending champion, Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma.

Legendary Ethiopian track runner Kenenisa Bekele, who is making a return three years after his most successful marathon outing, is the fastest in the pack.

The 40-year-old Bekele, who won the 2019 Berlin Marathon in the second fastest time ever of 2:01:41, is the fastest in the fields followed by the 2019 and 2020 Tokyo Marathon champion, Birhanu Legese in 2:02:48.

Kipruto (2:03:13) is third, then Lemma (2:03:36).

It will be interesting to see how Olympic and world bronze medallist Bashir Abdi (2:03:36) from Belgium will handle the race.

Bekele and Legese, 28, are marginally favourites,  but if it's form that will determine the race’s outcome then Kipruto, who has secured seven podium places in his 12 marathon outing should stand a good chance of winning  alongside Abdi.

They finished second (2:03:13) and fourth (2:05:23) respectively in Tokyo in March.

Kipruto won the Gothenburg Half Marathon in May in 1:00:50 while Abdi claimed bronze under tough conditions at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States in July.

“Kipruto has what it takes because he is in a unique moment of his career where he has enough experience but still fresh,” said his coach Claudio Berardelli.

“He is now one of the protagonists in a marathon like London, which is no doubt one of the most competitive races.”

Jepkosgei , who won last year;s women’s race with the eight fastest time in history of 2:17:43 must be on top of her game if she wants to retain her title.

“There is always pressure as the defending champion but that eases when you know you have trained well,” said Jepkosgei.

Korir (2:18:20), fresh from silver medal exploits in Oregon, and Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who ran the fastest debut marathon when winning in Hamburg in April in 2:17:23 will also fancy their chances.

Kenyan women have won the last six editions of the race. Elite drink stations will be located after every five kilometres with the last being at the 40km mark while the pacesetters drop-out points will be located at 22km, 27km and 31km.

Temperatures during the race are projected to be between 13 to 14 degrees centigrade with light rains expected.


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