Tigist Tufa to face five sub-2:20 women in 2016 London Marathon
Ethiopia's Tigist Tufa will return to defend her London Marathon title on April 24 against four women who have run the marathon in under two hours and 20 minutes, race organizers announced on Tuesday.
Last year, Tufa stunned a field dubbed the “Fantastic Four” of Aselefech Mergia, Mary Keitany, Priscah Jeptoo and Edna Kiplagat, who combined to win four of the last five editions of the race. Tufa had 25 to 1 odds to win the race, according to odds makers in the United Kingdom. Her 5:05 and 5:07 splits for the 24th and 26th mile sealed the upset victory in 2:32:22.
Keitany’s quest for a third London Marathon victory was put on hold as she finished second behind Tufa. The Kenyan is the second fastest woman of all-time with her 2:18:37 personal best. Keitany won the 2015 New York City Marathon for a second consecutive year and the third time in her career.
Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba, who was named last year's AIMS Marathoner of the Year and earned the world No. 1 ranking for 2015 by Track and Field News, holds a personal best of 2:19:52 and will be making her debut at the London Marathon. Her 2015 campaign included a win at the Xiamen Marathon, a runner-up finish at the Boston Marathon and a gold medal at the track and field world championships.
Dibaba and Keitany finished tied atop the Abbott World Marathon Majors standings, which reward the winner with the best finishes at the Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago or New York City marathons with $500,000.
A victory by Tufa, Dibaba or 2010 London Marathon champion Aselefech Mergia would mark the first time in London Marathon history where Ethiopia has won in two consecutive years.
Gladys Cherono enters after claiming the 2015 Berlin Marathon title in world-leading fashion by running 2:19:25.
Florence Kiplagat set the half-marathon world record before racing London and finished in fifth place. She rebounded by winning the 2015 Chicago Marathon in October. This will be her fifth time racing the London Marathon.
The Kenyan challengers under 2:20 is rounded out by Olympic bronze medalist Priscah Jeptoo, who won the 2013 London Marathon but finished seventh in 2015.
A full list of the women's elite field with personal bests can be seen below: