2 Feb

Strongest Ever Field For London

Stephen Kiprotich

Organisers behind the 2013 Virgin London marathon reckon they have assembled the best men's field in the event's 32 year history. With Olympic and World medallists galore and multiple marathon majors winners all confirmed, it is easy to see why.

The line-up includes 11 men who've completed the distance in under 2:06, including all three medalists from men's Olympic marathon last summer and the winners of the 2012 Berlin, Chicago, London, Frankfurt and Dubai marathons.

Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich, the surprise winner of the London 2012 Olympic marathon, will return to the capital to do battle with Olympic silver medalist and world champion Abel Kirui of Kenya and Olympic bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang. As winner of the 2012 Virgin London Marathon, Kenya's Kipsang will be out to prove he's the best in the world over the marathon distance.

Kipsang missed out on the London Marathon course record by just four seconds at the race last year, when he crossed the finish line more than two minutes clear of his closest rival, fellow Kenyan Martin Lel - himself a three-time winner of the London Marathon.

World record holder Patrick Makau of Kenya is a former winner in Berlin (a staggering 2:03:38) and won last year in Frankfurt. He will be looking to add London to his impressive CV. Last year's Berlin winner Geoffrey Mutai - another Kenyan - will also be a strong contender.

The Ethiopian contingent will be led by 2012 Chicago marathon winner Tsegaye Kebede and 2012 Dubai marathon winner Ayele Abshero. British Olympian Scott Overall and fellow British runner Tomas Abyu are unlikely to challenge for the win, but if they beat their personal bests, they could secure a top 10 finish.

Virgin London marathon race director Hugh Brasher said: "We're delighted to welcome all three medalists from the London 2012 Olympic marathon to this year's Virgin London marathon. The Olympic stars will line up alongside the world's best distance runners in what promises to be a remarkable battle between the strongest men's field ever assembled for a marathon."

In the women's race, Ethiopia's Tiki Gelana will be the one to watch after her win at the London 2012 Olympic marathon. She also won the 2012 Rotterdam marathon in a time of 2:18:58, making her the fourth fastest in history. Kenyans Florence Kiplagat, Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo could also challenge for the title. Edna Kiplagat is the current world champion, Jeptoo won Olympic silver last summer and Florence Kiplagat won the 2011 Berlin marathon.

Perhaps the biggest interest in the women's race will centre on double Olympic 10,000m winner and Olympic 5000m gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia to see if she can step up the 26.2mile distance successfully.

Britain's challenge will come from Freya Ross, Britain's leading finisher in the Olympic women's marathon in 44th and experienced track international Helen Clitheroe, who will be making her marathon debut.