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January 14, 2014 -- A potential victory for marathon debutant Mo Farah at the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 13, just got a lot harder after event organizers announced today a powerful elite field to challenge the two-time Olympic gold medalist.
A total of seven men who have broken two hours and six minutes during their careers have entered the race, led by Kenyan world record holder, Wilson Kipsang (2:03:23), and the fastest man ever on a certified marathon course, Geoffrey Mutai (2:03:02*), also of Kenya.
"The London Marathon is rightly known as one of the hardest races in the world to win, and the line-up of world-class talent we are announcing today shows that 2014 will be no exception," observed race director Hugh Brasher through a statement.
Kipsang, 31, the 2012 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist, has run sub-2:04 twice in his career, and has run under 2:05 on four occasions. His marathon victories include Berlin (2013/world record), Frankfurt (2010, '11) and London (2012). He's also won prestigious half-marathons like the NYC Half (2013) and Great North Run (2012).
Mutai, 32, is twice the TCS New York City Marathon champion (2013, '11), and has won Boston (2011), Berlin (2012) and Eindhoven twice (2008, '09).
Recently crowned World Marathon Majors champion Tsegaye Kebede, 26, of Ethiopia (2:04:38 PB), the reigning London champion; London course record holder Emmanuel Mutai, 29, of Kenya (2:03:52); 2012 Olympic Marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich, 24, of Uganda (2:07:20); and two-time TCS New York City Marathon champion Marilson Gomes Dos Santos, 36, of Brazil (2:06:34) are also in the field.
Farah, who lives in Portland, Ore., and is coached by Alberto Salazar under Nike's Oregon Project program, expected a very tough race after running about 20 kilometers of last year's contest as a reconnaissance run.
"I gained a lot of valuable experience running part of the course alongside the top guys last year and can't wait to race over the full distance this April," Farah said through a statement provided by race organizers. He continued: "I had another great year on the track in 2013, but the marathon is my main focus for this year. As a young boy growing up in London it has always been my ambition to run the London Marathon and to be able to make my marathon debut in my home town is very special."
The Virgin Money London Marathon is part of the World Marathon Majors series which includes the commercial marathons in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, Tokyo, plus the IAAF World Championships and Olympic Marathons in the years those races are contested.
The complete men's elite field is as follows with career best times:
Geoffrey Mutai (KEN), 2:03:02*
Wilson Kipsang (KEN), 2:03:23 WR
Emmanuel Mutai (KEN), 2:03:52
Ayele Abshero (ETH), 2:04:23
Feyisa Lilesa (ETH), 2:04:32
Tsegaye Kebede (ETH), 2:04:38
Stanley Biwott (KEN), 2:05:12
Marilson dos Santos (BRA), 2:06:34
Martin Mathathi (KEN), 2:07:16
Stephen Kiprotich (UGA), 2:07:20
Samuel Tsegay (ERI), 2:07:28
Mustapha El Aziz (MAR), 2:07:55
Amanuel Mesel (ERI), 2:08:17
Scott Overall (GBR), 2:10:55
Ryan Vail (USA), 2:11:45
Mo Farah (GBR), Debut**
Ibrahim Jeilan (ETH), Debut
Chris Thompson (GBR), Debut
Ben Livesey (GBR), Debut
*Time achieved at the 2011 Boston Marathon which is not acceptable for record-setting. Mutai's best time on a record-quality course is 2:04:15 (Berlin, 2012)
**Farah ran about 20 km of the 2013 Virgin Money London Marathon in a reconnaissance run
Photo: Wilson Kipsang celebrates his 31st birthday at the 2013 NYC Half (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly).