Keitany, Kipchoge face strong line up: Douglas Wakiihuri was the first Kenyan to win London Marathon

By JONATHAN KOMEN: Sunday, February 18th 2018 at 00:18 GMT +3 | Athletics
FILES-ATHLETICS-BRITAIN-KEN-LONDON-MARATHON-KEITANY-RADCLIFFE (FILES) This file photo taken on April 23, 2017 shows Kenya's Mary Keitany running during the women's elite race at the London marathon on in London. Kenya's Mary Keitany will run alongside male pacemakers in a bid to break Paula Radcliffe's longstanding women's world record in April's London Marathon, race organisers announced January 24, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS

Kenya has produced the winner of the men’s London Marathon 12 times in the last 14 years.

A dogfight awaits as the eternal Kenya and Ethiopia athletic rivalry lights up the 38th Virgin London Marathon on April 22.

From the starting point of the race around Blackheath, south of the River Thames, the race winds up past various iconic and landmarks like the river, Thames, Big Ben, London Eye, the Tower Bridge, Canary Whaff, the Buckingham Palace to the finish at The Mall; athletics fans will no doubt enjoy the red-hot action.

Mary Keitany will attempt to break Paula Radcliffe’s world record. Just as Radcliffe did when she set the world record at the 2003 London Marathon, Keitany will be running with male pacemakers in her bid to run inside the Briton’s iconic mark of 2:15:25.

The 36-year-old Keitany is already the holder of the women-only marathon world record which she set by winning last year’s Virgin Money London Marathon in 2:17:01. In doing so, Keitany beat Radcliffe’s previous mark of 2:17:42 and now the Kenyan wants to rewrite the record book again.

During her win last year, Keitany went through the halfway point more than a minute faster than Radcliffe did on the way to her record in 2003. However, her pacemaker fell away soon after and Keitany found herself alone and falling off that searing pace.

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“The marathon world record is something I have been working towards for several years and I feel I am now in the position where I can really attack the time of 2:15:25,” said the three-time London Marathon champion.

At last year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, I was feeling good but it was hard to run nearly half the race on my own. By having male pacemakers, I will be able to have the support throughout the race.

“Obviously, any world record is contingent on everything being right on the day. London has shown it has the course for world records to be broken and I hope my form and health stay strong and that the weather is kind on the day.

The 2018 race is also the conclusion of the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XI which started at last year’s London Marathon and includes the major marathons of Berlin, Chicago, New York, Tokyo and Boston, as well as the 2017 World Championships marathon.

Kipchoge is currently joint top of the series standings thanks to his win at the BMW Berlin Marathon last September alongside the 2017 winner of the Virgin Money London Marathon winner Daniel Wanjiru, the 2017 champions of Chicago (Galen Rupp) and New York (Geoffrey Kamworor) and the world champion Geoffrey Kirui.

- Additional reporting by IAAF