Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya will attempt to defend his title at the 2016 London Marathon in April, race organizers announced on Tuesday morning.
Kipchoge was arguably the top marathoner in the world for 2015 with victories at the London Marathon, over a field that included the past two marathon world record holders, and Berlin Marathon.
His winning time of 2:04:01 in Berlin was a personal best as well as a world-leading time. For the eighth time in the last 10 years, the world's fastest mark in the marathon comes from Berlin.
Kipchoge has won five of his six career marathons. The lone loss comes at the hands of compatriot Wilson Kipsang, who set the world record at the 2013 Berlin Marathon in 2:03:23. Kipchoge was second in 2:04:05. Kipchoge won their head-to-head rematch at the 2015 London Marathon.
Kipsang is also set to make his return at the 2016 London Marathon along with last year's third-place finisher and world-record holder Dennis Kimetto. Kipsang is coming off a fourth place finish at the 2015 New York City Marathon in November, where Kenya's Stanley Biwott came away with the victory and looks to come away successful in his fourth London Marathon. Biwott has previously finished fourth last year, second in 2014 and eighth in 2013.
Kimetto has struggled since his third place finish in London as he dropped out of the marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing. He also dropped out of Japan's Fukuoka Marathon in December after just five kilometers in the race. Kimetto has not won a race since setting the world record of 2:02:57 at the 2014 Berlin Marathon.
Athletics Kenya, the country's governing body for track and field, did not select Kipchoge for the world championships in August. Kipchoge looks to be selected by the federation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Before turning his attention to the marathon, Kipchoge won an Olympic bronze and silver medal in the 5,000-meter run at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Games respectively. Kipsang was a bronze medalist in the marathon at the 2012 Olympics. A strong performance by any Kenyan at the 2016 London Marathon will be taken into great consideration for the Olympic team.
The London Marathon will also mark the return of 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter track world record holder Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia. Bekele has not run a marathon since dropping out of the 2015 Dubai Marathon due to injury. He holds a personal best of 2:05:04 from his debut at the 2014 Paris Marathon. At the 2014 Chicago Marathon, he lost to Kipchoge and finished fourth overall.
The Ethiopian national team selection will be watching closely and if Bekele wants to make his fourth Olympic team, he will have to hold off challenges from compatriots Endeshaw Negesse, Tilahun Regassa and Abera Kuma, who have all run under 2:06 in their career.
Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie won the 2015 IAAF World Championships at 19 years old will run his second world marathon majors race since a sixth place finish at the 2014 Chicago Marathon.
The London Marathon will award $55,000 to the female and male champion respectively.
The full 2016 London Marathon elite men's field can be seen below:
- Christopher Chavez