Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge’s name was conspicuously missing from the list of elite runners who will be competing at this year’s London Marathon on October 3.
Organisers Thursday released a stellar list that has women’s world record holder Brigid Kosgei and men’s champion Shura Kitata of Ethiopia.
Kipchoge, who retained his Olympic marathon crown at the recently concluded Tokyo Games, finished eighth at the 2020 London Marathon, timing 2:06:49, more than a minute behind winner Shura Kitata.
He was expected to return to London to try and reclaim the title he won in 2019. Efforts to get a comment from the world record holder provide futile as his phone went unanswered.
Speaking to journalists on Wednesday after arriving from Tokyo, the 36-year-old remained non-committal on whether he would hang his boots after the triumph in Japan.
“I think it is good not to ask about retirement… When your wife delivered the first child, did you plan for the next one immediately?” Posed Kipchoge to a journalist, who responded in negation.
Kosgei, the Olympic silver medalist, will be attempting to win her third successive London Marathon after victories in 2019 and 2020.
She will be competing against New York City Marathon champion Joyciline Jepkosgei and six other women who have run under two hours and 20 minutes.
“It is a great feeling to be coming back as London is one of my favourite marathons. Last year’s win was very special, particularly given what the whole world was going through. It was fantastic just to have the London Marathon organised and even more so to be the winner. I hope to arrive again in very good shape and win for the third time,” Kosgei, who set the world record of 2:14:04 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon, said.
Jepkosgei set a new personal best of 2:18:40 last December at the Valencia Marathon, where she finished second to Olympic champion Peres Chepchirchir.
Also in the elite women’s field are Ethiopians Roza Dereje, whose PB of 2:18:30 makes her the tenth-fastest female marathoner of all time, and Birhane Dibaba (PB 2:18:35), who won the Tokyo Marathon in 2018 and 2015, and finished second in the same race on three other occasions (2020, 2017 and 2014).
The other women to have run inside 2:20 are Kenya’s Valary Jemeli (2:19:10), Ethiopia’s Zeineba Yimer (2:19:28) and Tigist Girma (2:19:50).
Also returning is Australia’s Sinead Diver, who has had two top 10 London Marathon finishes in the past two years, and was 10th at the Tokyo Olympics.
In the men’s race, Shura Kitata- who pulled out of the Olympic Games marathon last weekend after suffering in the hot and humid conditions in Sapporo- will line up with the other men as he seeks to defend his title.
Kitata bagged victory ahead of Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba and both will be meeting again in the contested race in October with Sisay Lemma also in the race.
Also on the starting line will be Kenya’s Evans Chebet, the current Valencia Marathon champion and fastest man in the world last year (2:03:00), and the two-time Tokyo Marathon champion Birhanu Legese who is the third-fastest marathoner of all time (2:02:48).
Ethiopians Mosinet Geremew (2:02:55) and Mule Wasihun (2:03:16), who both finished on the podium at the 2019 race, also return.
Titus Ekiru, who clocked the fastest time during the Milano Marathon of 2:02:57, will make his debut.
The 2021 London Marathon returns to its traditional and iconic course from Blackheath to The Mall after last year’s elite-only race on a multiple closed-loop circuit around St James’s Park.
Up to 50,000 runners are expected in the mass race and another 50,000 around the world will take on the virtual event, completing the 26.2 miles on the route of their choice any time between 00:00 and 23:59:59 BST October 3.