There will be five sub-2:05 men toeing the line in England’s capital next April.
Written by: David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
Superlatives are thrown around all too casually in the promotion of marathon races. It seems every week an event organizer sends around a press release touting a “stellar field” which is their event’s “best ever.”
But for once it is true. The field recruited by race director Dave Bedford for the 2011 Virgin London Marathon next April is extraordinary for its quality, depth and diversity. Amongst the 22 men and 25 women from 21 different nations who have committed to the race are World Championships and Olympic Games medallists, continental championships medallists, World Marathon Majors champions, winners of other important marathons, and athletes who have simply run very fast.
“The women’s race looks likely to be one of the most competitive we’ve ever had,” Bedford asserted through a news release. He continued: “We certainly expect the men’s course record to be under threat again.”
Indeed, 14 women in the field have broken 2:24 (16 sub-2:26), while a total of six men have broken the 2:06 barrier (ten sub-2:08). Bedford labeled his women’s field as “undoubtedly our strongest ever” and he said the men’s field “rivals any of those we’ve put together in the last few years.”
Leading the women’s field is the reigning World Marathon Majors champion, Liliya Shobukhova of Russia, who won both the Virgin London and Bank of America Chicago marathons in 2010. She has a career best time of 2:20:25. Her key opponents will be 2007 London champion and the newly crowned Asian Games marathon champion Zhou Chunxiu of China (2:19:51 PB), two-time London champion Irina Mikitenko of Germany (2:19:19), reigning Olympic gold medallist Constantina Dita of Romania (2:21:30), world half-marathon record holder Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands (2:22:22), 2010 London runner-up Inga Abitova of Russia (2:22:19), 2009 World Champion Bai Xue of China (2:23:27), 2010 ING New York City Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat (2:25:38), and Britain’s best-ever women’s finisher in an Olympic Marathon, Mara Yamauchi (2:23:12).
London will also host the marathon debuts of Britain’s Jo Pavey, Portugal’s Jessica Augusto and Australia’s Nikki Chapple.
Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede, the race’s defending champion with a career best time of 2:05:18, gets top billing from the London organizers, but he isn’t the fastest man in the field. That distinction goes to Kenya’s Patrick Makau who won the marathons in Berlin and Rotterdam in 2010, and recorded a year-leading time and personal best of 2:04:48 at Rotterdam. This will be his first Virgin London Marathon.
Samuel Wanjiru, the 2008 Olympic Marathon champion and the reigning World Marathon Majors series champion, is also in the field (2:05:10 PB). He failed to finish at London last April due to knee trouble, but rallied back to beat Kebede in a thrilling mano-a-mano race at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last October. Reigning world champion Abel Kirui of Kenya (2:05:04), 2010 Berlin third-placer Bazu Worku of Ethiopia (2:05:25), two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist Jaouad Gharib of Morocco (2:05:27), 2010 Virgin London and ING New York City Marathon runner-up Emmanuel Mutai of Kenya (2:06:15), and reigning European marathon champion Viktor Röthlin of Switzerland (2:07:23) are also in the field.
Australia’s Collis Birmingham and America’s Mohamed Trafeh will make their debuts.
Because the Easter holiday is Sunday, April 24, the London and Boston Marathons will be held on consecutive days in 2011; London will be Sunday, April 17, and Boston will be Monday, April 18.
2011 Virgin London Marathon Invited Fields
MEN (with career best times)
Tsegaye Kebede, ETH, 2:05:18
Patrick Makau, KEN, 2:04:48
Samuel Wanjiru, KEN, 2:05:10
Abel Kirui, KEN, 2:05:04
Bazu Worku, ETH, 2:05:25
Jaouad Gharib, MAR, 2:05:27
Emmanuel Mutai, KEN, 2:06:15
Viktor Röthlin, SUI, 2:07:23
Abderrahime Bouramdane, MAR, 2:07:33
Yonas Kifle, ERI, 2:07:34
José Manuel Martínez, ESP, 2:08:09
Marilson Gomes dos Santos, BRA, 2:08:37
Dmitry Safronov, RUS, 2:10:12,
Reid Coolsaet, CAN, 2:11:23
Eric Gillis, CAN, 2:12:08
Dylan Wykes, CAN, 2:12:39,
Cuthbert Nyasango, ZIM, 2:12:40
Mike Shelley, AUS, 2:13:05
Michael Aish, USA, 2:13:21
Andrew Lemoncello, GBR, 2:13:40
Collis Birmingham, AUS, Debut
Mohamed Trafeh, USA, Debut
WOMEN (with career best times)
Liliya Shobukhova, RUS, 2:20:25
Zhou Chunxiu, CHN, 2:19:51
Irina Mikitenko, GER, 2:19:19
Constantina Dita, ROU, 2:21:30
Askale Tafa, ETH, 2:21:31
Inga Abitova, RUS, 2:22:19
Lornah Kiplagat, NED, 2:22:22
Aselefech Mergia, ETH, 2:22:38
Bezunesh Bekele, ETH, 2:23:09
Mara Yamauchi, GBR, 2:23:12
Bai Xue, CHN, 2:23:27
Mariya Konovalova, RUS, 2:23:50
Xiaolin Zhu, CHN, 2:23:57
Aberu Kebede, ETH, 2:23:58
Yukiko Akaba, JPN, 2:24:55
Edna Kiplagat, KEN, 2:25:38
Magdalena Lewy Boulet, USA, 2:26:22
Liz Yelling, GBR, 2:28:33
Lisa Weightman, AUS, 2:28:48 ,
Mary Keitany, KEN, 2:29:01
Fiona Docherty, NZL, 2:32:17
Tanith Maxwell, RSA, 2:32:33
Jo Pavey, GBR, Debut
Jessica Augusto, POR, Debut
Nikki Chapple, AUS, Debut