On paper, the men’s elite field at this year’s London Marathon is one of the fastest. It boasts three of the five fastest men in history, and six who have run inside 2:04. In the first of four preview articles, James Rhodes runs through those taking to the streets of London on Sunday.
The London Marathon never fails to deliver a star-studded elite field. This year is no difference across both the men’s and women’s fields. Having made his Boston Marathon debut on Monday, Eliud Kipchoge is of course absent. Regardless, the international men taking to London’s streets on Sunday are a who’s-who of road racing.
Learn about the men who will be stood on the start line in Greenwich come Sunday morning. A separate preview of the British athletes competing will be published later in the week.
Of those in the field, one needs no introduction – Kenenisa Bekele. One of the all-time distance greats, a standalone article could be written on his track, road and cross-country achievements. They include three Olympic golds, six track (five outdoor and one indoor) and eleven XC World Championship titles. Of course, he is the former 5000m and 10000m World Record holder.
With thirteen to his name (three being DNFs), his transition to the marathon has been equally successful. The second fastest in history, his 2:01:41 best was just two seconds shy of the World Record at the time. Standout performances include wins in his debut marathon in Paris (2014) and twice in Berlin (2016, 2019). He holds the World V40 Record (2:05:53).
Despite four appearances to date, a win at London has thus far eluded him. He has reached the podium twice (2017, second and 2016, third) and finished sixth and fifth on his two other visits, in 2018 and 2022 respectively. Perhaps it will be fifth time lucky for the Ethiopian great.
The World Champion
Reigning World Champion Tamirat Tola will be making his third appearance at London, having finished sixth in both 2019 and 2020.
His PB (2:03:39), set at the 2021 Amsterdam Marathon, puts him twentieth on the all-time list. Last year’s World Championships in Oregon was his greatest performance. Having taken silver in London in 2017, Tola finished over a minute clear of the field in 2:05:39, a Championship Record. Other marathon podiums include a win in Dubai (2019) and third in Tokyo (2022).
Reigning champion Amos Kipruto is the only entrant to have tasted victory at London. His best of 2:03:13 was set two years earlier in Tokyo and ties him as eleventh fastest in history. Kipruto took bronze at the 2019 World Championships in Doha. His CV also includes early career victories in Rome (2016) and Seoul (2017) and podiums in Tokyo (2018, third; 2022, second) and Berlin (2018, second).
The London Debutants
Two athletes of note will be making their London Marathon debuts. His half marathon and cross-country exploits mean Geoffrey Kamworor is another who needs little introduction. The former HM World Record holder (58:01), his titles include three World HM Championships and two World XC Championships.
Kamworor has appeared on the podium at each of his four visits to New York. Two victories (2017 and 2019) sit alongside second (2015) and third (2018) place finishes. He finished fourth in Valencia in 2021, where his PB was set (2:05:23), and has twice finished third in Berlin (2012 and 2013).
In his one and only marathon, compatriot Kelvin Kiptum also set his PB in Valencia. His 2:01:53 last December is the fastest debut in history and puts him third on the marathon all-time list. Equally as mind boggling was the 23 years old’s second half (60:15), the quickest ever recorded.
The 2022 Returnees
Six of the top eight from last year’s edition return, third and seventh placers Bashir Abdi and Sisay Lemma absent. Alongside Amos Kipruto and Kenenisa Bekele will be 2022’s second, fourth, sixth and eighth placers.
This will be Leul Gebreselassie‘s third London Marathon, having finished second in 2022 (2:05:12) and eighth in 2019 (2:07:15). His PB of 2:04:02 was set in Dubai in 2018. Gebreselassie has raced three times at Valencia, winning in 2018, and make the podium in Amsterdam (2021, third) and Rotterdam (2022, second).
Ethiopian Kinde Atanaw will be looking to better his fourth placed finish at London last year (2:05:27). The thirty-year-old has raced sparingly since 2016, with just ten races to his name. His debut marathon in 2019 was the best of his career; a win at the Valencia Marathon (2:03:51). A course record at the time, it remains his PB. Five marathons have followed; two returns to Valencia (DNF 2020, 7th 2021), alongside visits to Prague, Boston and of course London.
Fourth fastest in history, thanks to his 2:02:48 (Berlin 2019), Birhanu Legese finished sixth last year. This will be his third consecutive year racing in London, having finished fifth in 2021. His best performances include two wins in Tokyo (2019 and 2020) and a second in Berlin (2019, where he set his PB). A third-place at Valencia in 2020 (2:03:16) backs up that sub-2:03 clocking.
Oceania Record Holder (2:07:31) Brett Robinson returns after finishing eighth last year in 2:09:52. It will be his third London Marathon in a career that includes two Olympics Games (5000m and marathon), two World Championships, one World Indoors and two World XC Championships, dating back to 2009.
A field of such depth sees a two-time second placer feature towards the back of this preview. In 2020, Vincent Kipchumba was outsprinted on the modified elite-only course by Shura Kitata to miss the win by just one second. He returned a year later for another second place, this time setting a PB (2:04:28). The Kenyan, who took victories in Amsterdam and Vienna in 2019, will be looking to better second this year.
Seifu Tura will be making his London debut. The 2021 Chicago Marathon winner set his PB (2:04:29) winning Milan Marathon the same year, having won in Shanghai in 2018. He finished sixth at last summer’s World Championships.
Two Americans will also be taking to the capital’s streets for the first time, Frank Lara and Alex Monroe. Lara set his PB of 2:11:32 in Houston last year and finished ninth at the NYC Half Marathon last month. Monroe’s best (2:14:15) dates to the 2019 Chicago Marathon. The final athlete is German Tom Groschel. He holds a PB of 2:11:03 (Valencia 2021) and competed at the Europeans in 2018 and Worlds in 2022. It will be his first London Marathon.
The elite men’s race of the London Marathon starts at 10:00 on Sunday 23 April. Fast Running will provide on the ground coverage throughout the day.