Kipchoge and Bekele set for London showdown

Last Updated: 17/01/20 9:27am

The world's two fastest marathon runners in history will face each other in London this year.
The world’s two fastest marathon runners in history will face each other in London this year.

Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele, the only men to go under two hours, two minutes for the marathon, will go head to head at this year’s London Marathon, organisers have confirmed.

World-record holder Kipchoge had already announced he would defend his title but the presence of Ethiopia’s Bekele, who produced a stunning 2:01:41 run in Berlin last October, missing Kipchoge’s world record by two seconds, will add an extra edge to this year’s race.

Also in the field for the April 26 race will be Mosinet Geremew, Mule Wasihun and Shura Kitata the Ethiopian trio who finished second, third and fourth last year.

Yet it is the showdown between the two men each with a legitimate claim to be the greatest distance runner in history that should draw huge crowds for the 40th edition of the race that began with a dead heat in 1981.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge celebrates breaking the mythical two-hour barrier for the marathon on October 12 2019 in Vienna.
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge celebrates breaking the mythical two-hour barrier for the marathon on October 12 2019 in Vienna.

Kipchoge, who became the first man to run a sub-two-hour marathon in an unofficial race Vienna in October, is seeking a record fifth London title.

He has won 11 of the 12 marathons he has started, including the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and also has a number of Olympic, world and commonwealth medals on the track and in cross country.

Bekele has three Olympic and five world championship golds over 10,000 and 5,000 metres, distances in which he still holds the world record, as well as an astonishing 11 cross country world championship golds.

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele crosses the finish line to win the 2019 Berlin Marathon
Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele crosses the finish line to win the 2019 Berlin Marathon

After moving up to the marathon in 2014 he struggled with injuries and his best days appeared to be behind him until he pulled out his astonishing run in Berlin last year.

Not only was the time almost a minute faster than anyone other than Kipchoge had managed, it was better by around four minutes than any Bekele had produced since his 2:03:03 on the same course in 2016.

“I’m looking forward to racing Eliud again,” Bekele said.

“We have had many great battles over the years on the track, roads and cross-country.

“He is a special athlete but I feel my win in Berlin proved that I am still capable of winning the biggest races and in world-class times.”

Bekele said that London was his favourite race and, although the last seven world records have been set in Berlin, he feels the head-to-head nature of this year’s event could produce a first men’s world record on the course for 18 years.

Source : Sky Sports