(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
January 22, 2014 -- Priscah Jeptoo, the 2012/2013 World Marathon Majors overall points champion, will return to London to defend her title on Sunday, April 13, just one athlete in a power-packed women's field for the 34th Virgin Money London Marathon.
Jeptoo, 29, who won marathon silver medals at both the 2011 IAAF World Championships and 2012 Olympic Games, romped over a similarly strong field in last year's London contest, winning by more than a minute in 2:20:15. The Kenyan followed up that victory by running the fastest half-marathon in the world last year at the Bupa Great North Run last September (1:05:45), then winning the TCS New York City Marathon in a breathtaking come-from-behind victory where she had to run a 69-minute second half to overcome Ethiopia's Buzunesh Deba.
"This is a great moment for me and a day I will not forget for the rest of my life," Jeptoo said after her New York City Victory which was worth a total of USD 625,000, including the 500,000 World Marathon Majors prize.
Jeptoo's top rival in London will be two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, also of Kenya. Kiplagat, 34, finished second to Jeptoo in London last year, then won her second world marathon title in hot conditions in Moscow. She ended her season with a disappointing ninth-place finish at the TCS New York City Marathon.
Tiki Gelana, 26, the 2012 Olympic Marathon champion from Ethiopia, will come back to London after a heartbreaking race last year. Gelana tangled with wheelchair racer Josh Cassidy near the 15K fluid station, causing her to fall hard. Although she was able to catch back up to the field, she later faded, finishing 16th in 2:36:55.
Also in the field from Ethiopia will be Tirunesh Dibaba. The three-time Olympic gold medalist will be making her long-awaited marathon debut. She was supposed to debut in London last year, but withdrew.
"We are delighted to welcome back Priscah Jeptoo," said race director Hugh Brasher through a statement. "Our champion was a deserved winner of the World Marathon Majors title and has shown with her performances over the last two years that she will be extremely difficult to beat."
He continued: "We are also pleased to see the world and Olympic champions on our start line again. Both Edna and Tiki had reason to feel frustrated last year --Edna because she just missed out for a second year in succession, and Tiki because of her unfortunate accident. I am sure they will both be determined to make their returns to London successful."
The top home country entrant is rising star Gemma Steel, currently ranked as the #1 distance runner in Britain by the independent Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS). Steel, 28, twice a SPAR European Cross Country Championships medalist, will be making her marathon debut. She has a half-marathon best of 1:10:19.
The entire women's elite field for the Virgin Money London Marathon is as follows (with career best times):
Tiki Gelana (ETH), 2:18:58
Florence Kiplagat (KEN), 2:19:44
Edna Kiplagat (KEN), 2:19:50
Priscah Jeptoo (KEN), 2:20:14
Aberu Kebede (ETH), 2:20:30
Feysa Tadesse (ETH), 2:21:06
Tetyana Gamera-Shmyrko (UKR), 2:23:58
Jessica Augusto (POR), 2:24:33
Kim Smith (NZL), 2:25:21
Ana Dulce Félix (POR), 2:25:40
Nadia Ejjafini (ITA), 2:26:15
Diane Nukuri-Johnson (BDI), 2:29:54
Amy Whitehead (GBR), 2:33:44
Emma Stepto (40+/GBR), 2:35:05
Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH), Debut (1:06:56 half) Gemma Steel (GBR), Debut (1:10:19 half) Lyudmila Kovalenko (UKR), Debut (1:09:43 half)