It's round two for Eliud Kipchoge vs. Mo Farah in London.
Olympic champion and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge will run the 2019 London Marathon with hopes of making history as the first man to win the race four times.
Kipchoge is coming off a year in which he won his third London Marathon title under hot conditions in April and then smashed the previous marathon world record by 78 seconds at the Berlin Marathon in 2:01:39 in September. He was also named the 2018 IAAF Athlete of the Year.
One of Kipchoge's biggest challengers will be Mo Farah. Farah won his first World Marathon Major and set a European marathon record with a 2:05:11 victory at the Chicago Marathon in October. Farah finished third in last year's London Marathon behind Kipchoge and Ethiopian Shura Kitata. Kitata, 22, finished second in November's New York City Marathon and will also return to London.
In last year's race, the leaders went out in 4:22 for the first mile and 13:48 for the first 5K and before crossing the half marathon mark in 61:00, which was exactly what Kipchoge requested of the pacers. Farah was unable to hold onto the leaders after 30K but still held on for a podium finish. The hot conditions and blazing pace was unable to break Kipchoge.
“I am looking forward to racing Sir Mo Farah again," Kipchoge said in a news release. "He is a great champion and proved in Chicago that he can win a major marathon so I relish the battle with him and also the many other great athletes that I’m sure will once again be on the start line in London.”
The Case for London...
Kipchoge gets a chance to make history as the only man to win the London Marathon four times. He is currently in a class with Mexico's Dionicio Cerón (1994, 1995 and 1996) and Martin Lel (2005, 2007, 2008) as the only men who have won London three times. Kipchoge possibly could have won in 2017 but decided to pass on the race and participated in Nike's optimized attempt to try and crack the two-hour marathon barrier. Kipchoge ended up running 2:00:25.
Kipchoge has won 10 consecutive marathons including a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Traditionally, London pits the fastest marathoners in the world against each other, so if someone is capable of breaking Kipchoge in a fast race, they'll be in London. There is money on the line between Kipchoge and Farah because they are currently joint leaders of the World Marathon Majors Series XII. A victory in London seals the series win and $250,000 to the champion.
Organizers will announce more stars this week.
The Case Against London...
With an athlete as great as Kipchoge, racing London for a fourth time has that "been there, done that" feeling. The Boston Marathon elite athlete fields were announced last week and Kipchoge's name was not on there, so it was assumed that he'd return to London. Kipchoge racing in Boston would have been compelling because of the course's difficulty and lack of pacers. Kipchoge has not raced a marathon without pacers since the 2016 Olympics.
The Tokyo Marathon in March could have been another option, but the likelihood of seeing Kipchoge race 26.2 miles in Japan before the 2020 Olympics appears to be low.