London Marathon promises exciting Kipchoge v Farah duel

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Eliud Kipchoge at the London Marathon 2018. Photo: Marco Verch via Flickr.

Marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge is looking forward to the prospect of taking on Britain’s Sir Mo Farah again at the 2019 London Marathon this spring.

Kipchoge won last year’s event, with Farah placing third in a new British record time.

The Kenyan went on to clock an all-time best of 2:01.39 in Berlin in September, and received popular recognition as IAAF Athlete of the Year. But the Brit also impressed by winning the Chicago Marathon a month later in 2:05.11.

Speaking to organisers after confirming his attendance at this year’s event, Kipchoge said his rival is “a great champion (who) proved in Chicago that he can win a major marathon”, going on to say “I relish the battle with him and also the many other great athletes that I’m sure will once again be on the start line in London.”

He’ll be 34, and Mo 36 when the gun goes on 28 April this year, and there will be plenty of younger contenders for the win, including the former’s 22-year-old compatriot Shura Kitata, who was second in 2018.

That said, the return of the aforementioned legendary pair gives the race a gloss and anticipation it hasn’t always had. Kipchoge is with little doubt the greatest male marathon runner ever and Farah gets kudos for attempting to be one of the most versatile winners ever.

The much-loved four-time Olympic and six-time world champion loves racing in front of the home crowd on the streets of the capital and ought to get a timely boost from doing so. But caution is needed given that he is a relative newcomer to this longer distance. That’s in spite of his great international record and intention to fight for global medals at the Doha World Championships this autumn and at Tokyo 2020.

That came as a surprise to some, given that one of the main reasons for Farah retiring from the track last year was to spend more time with his family. Clearly the competitive spirit and the hunger for a new challenge on the road shone through.

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Kipchoge loves London too. He’s never been beaten and holds the course record of 2:03.05. This is a man who believes he’s battling the clock rather than any one individual, insisting this week to Kenyan media that breaking the two hour barrier is humanly possible.

There is also motivation to take the tape a fourth time, which has never been done by anyone in his category.

Paralympian David Weir leads the way outright with eight London Marathon wins. Fellow wheelchair racing legend Tanni Grey-Thompson has six, while David Holding, Tatyana McFadden and Francesca Porcellato all have four. So too Norway’s Ingrid Kristiansen, the only runner to accumulate that many victories, with all of hers coming in the 1980s.

Keen to garner hopes for an incredibly niche pub quiz? The other men (without chairs) with three crowns are Martin Lel, Antonio Pinto and Dionicio Ceron.

Whoever you are cheering, Kipchoge’s determination to push the boundaries and Farah’s sensational racing ability make this a battle to wet the appetite, with the man from Kenya starting as favourite.

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