19 Apr Virgin London Marathon Preview: Elite Women & Leading Brits
Olympic champion Tiki Gelana leads the best of the elite female entry and will likely face challenges from 2012 runner-up Edna Kiplagat and her compatriot Priscah Jeptoo. Following the withdrawals this week of Freya Ross and Helen Clitheroe, Amy Whitehead and Susan Partridge will likely lead the British women’s challenge.
Ethiopian great Tirunesh Dibaba was due to line up for her debut at the distance but injury put paid to those plans earlier this year. In her absence, Ethiopian Tiki Gelana starts the overwhelming favourite. The 2012 Olympic champion and Ethiopian record holder is the only athlete in the field to go sub-2:19. She followed up her Olympic success with a third-place finish at the Great North Run and ran 68:53 for the half as recently as February in Marugame.
Edna Kiplagat ran her marathon best last year in London, clocking 2:19:50 as she finished runner-up to Mary Keitany. The current marathon World champion from Daegu in 2011, Kiplagat has demonstrated her class on the roads more recently, with a 67:41 PB at the Great North Run (outsprinting Gelana in the process) and victory in the Lisbon Half Marathon (68:48) last month.
Priscah Jeptoo finished just twenty four seconds adrift of Kiplagat last year and should be looking to go one if not two better this time around. The Kenyan, with a 2:20:14 best, was second at the World Championships in 2011 and repeated the feat in the Olympics last year.
Others to watch out for – 2011 Berlin winner Florence Kiplagat, last year’s winner in Frankfurt Meselech Melkamu & 2010 European XC champion Jessica Augusto
Amy Whitehead heads into the race as the fastest Brit on paper following the withdrawal this week of Freya Ross due to injury. With Helen Clitheroe also opting out in what would have been her debut marathon, Whitehead will likely lead the British challenge. The Notts AC athlete recorded her PB of 2:33:44 in the capital twelve months ago and should be confident of bettering that mark following a solid year of training and preparation (see our pre-London chat HERE).
Susan Partridge lines up in a similar scenario to Whitehead, knowing a sub-2:31 clocking could all but secure her place on the GB team for the World Championships in Moscow later this year. Partridge has had one of the most successful winters of her career (see her Centre Stage interview HERE) and, with a recent 70:31 clocking at the Bath Half behind her, should be confident of smashing her current 2:34:13 PB.
Lining up in the championship start, Emily Wicks is set to make her debut marathon appearance. Emily, whose husband Phil is one of the leading British contenders in the men’s event, has enjoyed an impressive winter. She represented GB at the European XC before Christmas before following that up with fourth place in the World XC trials and a 65th place finish in Bydgoszcz. A 74:15 PB on the roads at the Wokingham Half Marathon suggests Wicks has potential to run a solid debut.
Matt W. – Tiki Gelana (First Brit – Amy Whitehead)
Tash D. – Edna Kiplagat (Susan Partridge)
Chris R. – Tiki Gelana (Susan Partridge)