Jepchirchir, Brigid set to light up London streets on Sunday

Peres Jepchirchir celebrates after winning the 2022 Boston Marathon. [File, Standard]

It will be a dogfight as Kenyan women battle the deepest field ever assembled at the 43rd London Marathon on Sunday.

From the starting point of the race around Blackheath, south of River Thames, the race winds up past various iconic and landmarks like the Big Ben, London Eye, the Tower Bridge, Canary Whaff, the Buckingham Palace to the finish at The Mall; athletics fans across the globe will be glued to their television sets.

The race looks too competitive –with 10 sub 2:18 athletes in the women's starting line.

It will be a spectacular sight to behold as stars battle along Tower Bridge and Canary Whaff, where major upsets always happen.

Olympic marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir and world record Brigid Kosgei will be up against Dutch's reigning Olympic 10,000m and 5000m champion Sifan Hassan and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, the fastest woman over 10km.

Jepchirchir is the only athlete – male or female – to have won the Olympic, New York City and Boston marathons, and is also a two-time world champion in the half marathon.

She hopes to extend her unbeaten run, which has seen her win two major marathons since taking the Olympic title at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Jepchirchir, who is the only sibling in a family of 24 to take up athletics, will be out to prove a point: that she can perform well in flat and hilly courses.

In 2021, Jepchirchir won gold in the Tokyo Olympic marathon by 16 seconds and then four months later won the 50th running of the New York Marathon in her America racing debut.

In doing so, she became the only Olympic marathon gold medalist to also win the New York Marathon in her career, finishing in 2:22:39, the third-fastest time in event history and eight seconds off the course record.

Then in April, in a back-and-forth race that came down to the final mile, Jepchirchir fended off Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh in a thrilling sprint to the finish to take the Boston Marathon title in her debut in the event.

After ensuring Kenya won back-to-back Olympic women's marathon gold, the 29-year-old has been in outstanding form. Jepchirchir, who broke three half-marathon records, will be out to win her sixth straight 42.2km race in just over three years.

World marathon record holder Brigid, who is also a two-time winner in London, is back on the lineup after withdrawing from last year's race due to a hamstring injury. She's expected to battle Jepchirchir after their Olympic race and the 2021 New York marathon.

Brigid, who set the women’s world record of 2:14.04 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon where she erased Paula Radcliffe’s record 2:15.25 set in 2003, is another strong contender.

The defending champion Yalemzerf Yehualaw of Ethiopia is also among the star attractions in the women’s elite field, which was boosted by the entry of the reigning Olympic 10,000m and 5000m champion Sifan Hassan making her marathon debut.

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