Post Race: Men's Race and Commentary |
Women's Race and Commentary (in process) | Complete Searchable Results
London Marathon Preview |
Elite Athlete Past Matchups
| Prize Money & Starter List
Men's Race - Top Competitors |
Women's Race - Top Competitors
Athlete/Course Videos |
Other News Sources: Press Releases |
2010 London Marathon Preview
by Sharon Ekstrom
On this page: Overview | Men's Race | Women's Race | Full Starter List / Performances at London
Getting to the Race - The Story Before the Story
The 30th anniversary of the London Marathon had already made history in the days leading up to the event - race organizers scrambled to get the elite athletes to the city let alone to the start line, with volcanic ash plumes from the eruption of a volcano in Iceland closing airspace across Europe and preventing the timely arrival of some of the best athletes in the world. While the volcano and its ash cloud loomed over the fate of the starting field, many of the athletes and the race itself made plans on how to get the athletes to London. New flight plans - sometimes to different continents were contemplated, and many were forced to fly to alternate destinations in Europe and travel overland to London - a simple flight in other years turned into a multi-day journey. To get the contingent of top African athletes to the race, London Marathon organizers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to charter planes to make stops in Eritrea, Kenya and Ethiopia en route to the European continent and then onward to London. Even before the athletes arrived on the starting line, there was a marathon story.
photo credit: Olaf Kraak/AFP
The Athletes - The Best of the World
As always; the London Marathon had gathered the best in the world to come to the race. The elite athlete roster included more than a dozen Olympians; both of the reigning Olympic Marathon Gold medalists; the two men who had run the fastest two half marathons of all time; multiple world champions; and national record holders from Kenya, Russia, Ethiopia, Morocco and the USA. The field had the fastest marathoners based on recent times: race officials have gathered five men who combined accounted for 8 of the 10 fastest marathon finishes of 2009; and seven women who combined had 7 of the 10 fastest female marathons of 2009 - at least by the measure of who ran well in the prior year, it is clear that the London Marathon has put together the finest marathon field in the world. In the field, 19 men had the potential to run a sub 2:06 marathon in London and 7 women in the field had finished faster than 2:22. With a field this deep, a course known for speed and the employ of experienced pacemakers, fast times would be guaranteed - the only question would be how fast?
A Progression of Records
In 2002 Khalid Khannouchi set the world record at the London Marathon in 2:05:38 and in 2008 Martin Lel, Sammy Wanjiru and Abderrahim Goumri all ran faster than Khannouchi's course record. After a course record in 2008, Wanjiru returned in 2009 and ran one of the fastest half marathon splits ever recorded in a marathon (61:35) which didn't result in a marathon record, but still achieved a new course record of 2:05:10 in a race that saw two other men: Tsegaye Kebede and Jaouad Gharib also run stellar 2:05 performances.
But another European race, the Rotterdam Marathon, pushed the envelope by producing even faster times, achieving seven finishes under 2:06 and a two men at the front of the 2009 race recording times of 2:04:27 - still the third and fourth fastest times ever recorded in the marathon and obviously ahead of London's 2:05:10 record. Somehow, Rotterdam which doesn't have the budget to acquire the top elites in the world managed to knock London out of the list of all time fastest performances, as the London Marathon course record dropped to 11th on the all-time list. But times keep getting faster and Wanjiru - who will return to London - had recent success by setting a new course record at the 2009 Chicago Marathon. Unrelated to the London Marathon, the April 2010 Boston Marathon saw its course record shattered - perhaps April 2010 is a month for new records.
London has also seen stellar women's performances in the past. The course has produced five world records: Grete Waitz - 2:25:29 (1983), Ingrid Kristiansen - 2:21:06 (1985), Paula Radcliffe - 2:18:56 (2002) women's only race and Paula Radcliffe - 2:15:25 (2003) Paula Radcliffe - 2:17:42 (2005) women's only race. Three top females actively racing today have run sub 2:20 at London - Radcliffe, Catherine Ndereba and Deena Kastor. However, women marathoners have not been hitting those times in recent years, so it is doubtful that the women in London will set any kind of record, however the 2010 women's line-up is impressive and holds three women who have run sub 2:21: Kastor, Irina Mikitenko and Berhane Adere.
The Men's Race
As the first decade of the millennium drew to a close, the world saw the all-time best men's marathon finishes fall well below 2:06. Nineteen men have run faster than 2:06 and the current world record stands at 2:03:59 (Haile Gebrselassie's record run at the 2008 Berlin Marathon). The 2010 London men's field contains 5 of these sub-2:06 marathoners - Duncan Kibet, Abel Kirui, Sammy Wanjiru, Tsegaye Kebede and Jaouad Gharib - who will not only be looking to win the race but to chase the clock and make a their mark in history.
Returning to London - the Top 3 from 2009
Only 23 years old, Sammy Wanjiru has already racked up an incredible list of achievements. The former Half Marathon world record holder, has run sub-2:06 for the marathon three times, won the Gold Medal at the 2008 Olympics Marathon, and is the winner and course record holder of both the London and Chicago Marathons.
Wanjiru will be joined by 2009 runner up Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia who has two 2:05 marathon finishes to his name the first from the 2009 London Marathon and the second from his course record win at the December 2009 Fukuoka Marathon (2:05:18 PR). Kebede's bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics put him on the map, but these more recent fast performances are what he is becoming known for. On the eve of his thirty-eighth birthday, the 2009 London third place finisher, Moroccan Jaouad Gharib, also returns to London. Gharib's career includes a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games and a world championships Marathon title and three top three finishes at London. In a field of runners over a decade younger, Gharib continues to shine and it is amazing that his personal best was achieved in 2009 (London Marathon 2:05:27). A highly anticipated returnee, Martin Lel - the three-time champion of London (2005, 2007 & 2008), unfortunately had to withdraw due to injury and would not start the 2010 race.
From Rotterdam to London
Two stars from the 2009 Rotterdam Marathon will be joining the field - 2009 champion Duncan Kibet (2:04:27) and third place finisher Abel Kirui (2:05:04). Kibet is the Kenyan national record holder for the marathon and second fastest marathoner of all time; and Kirui, 2009 World Champion and 8th fastest in the world, will bring added speed to race. Wanjiru won't be able to complain about the rabbits being unable to hold the pace. Oddly, Kibet and Kirui were once pacemakers for Haile Gebrselassie's world record attempts in Berlin and Dubai - they will be running London in a different capacity. Meanwhile, the current marathon record-holder, Gebrselassie, who has run London before, will be absent from the 2009 event and will, instead, be opening his new hotel in Ethiopia.
Other Notable Men
Eritrean Zersenay Tadese returns to the London Marathon following a DNF in his debut marathon attempt at the 2009 London Marathon. Tadese could be the man to watch, especially considering he that he dethroned Wanjiru as the half marathon world record holder with a 58:23 performance at the Lisbon Half-Marathon in March 2010. Tadesse will be joined by fellow countryman Yonas Kifle, national record holder in the marathon with a 2:07:34 from his debut at the 2007 Amsterdam Marathon. Others to watch will be: Emmanuel Mutai of Kenya, Abdi Abdirahman of the US, Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil and Abderrahim Bouramdane of Morocco.
The Women's Race
In women's marathoning, the past decade has seen finishes dip under 2:20 with only nine women having accomplished this feat and most notably Paula Radcliffe with a world record in 2:15:23 from the 2003 London Marathon. Yet, as the decade drew to a close, unlike in men's marathoning there seemed a dearth of new women chasing fast times. The 2:20 time was beaten twice in 2001, three times in 2002 and 2003, once in 2004, twice in 2005, twice in 2006, and once in 2008 - ten of fourteen sub-2:20 runs were achieved in the first half or the decade and not once in the 19 months leading to the 2010 London Marathon. London might hope for a sub-2:20, but it is not clear whether that can be achieved. Nonetheless, London has once again gathered one of the deepest women's fields possible - Irina Mikitenko, two-time London champion and the 4th fastest woman of all time with a 2:19:19 (2008 Berlin Marathon) and Deena Kastor, 2006 London Champion, 2004 Olympic bronze medalist and 5th fastest woman of all time with a 2:19:36 (2006 London Marathon) leading the mix. [Paula Radcliffe, the fastest woman alive and two-time London champion had taken a break from running due to pregnancy and would not be at London.]
Also returning to the London field is 2009 London Marathon runner-up Mara Yamauchi whose personal best performance of 2:23:12 proves that even at 36 years old she remains competitive and is emerging as one of Britain's best distance runners. Having recovered from a foot injury in the autumn of 2009, Yamauchi has tested her fitness winning the 2010 30k in Oume and beating Deena Kastor for the victory of the New York City Half in a course record of 69:25. Expect a strong showing from Liliya Shobukhova, whose 3rd place at the 2009 event in her marathon debut (2:24:24) and win of the 2009 Chicago Marathon (2:25:56) prove that she can perform well in top fields. While her marathon finishes are not the fastest, this track star has not shown what she is truly capable of in the distance.
Also notable repeats returning are veteran marathoners from Russia - Lyudmila Petrova (2:21:29) and Svetlana Zakharova (2:21:31) who will be looking to complete their seventh London. Always top performers, these women prove that racing against world class fields is still possible at 40. 2008 Olympic Champion Constantina Dita of Romania who also recently turned 40 will be gearing up for her 7th. And Berhane Adere of Ethiopia who has completed four London Marathons always finishing in the top 10 is in the mix; following her win of the Mardi Gras Half-Marathon in 67:52, the fastest time run by a woman in North America.
Ones to watch in particular are some young upstarts like Bai Xue and Yoshimi Ozaki who were one and two at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. Both have little experience racing outside of Asia; but if their performances last summer in Berlin are indicators, they will fare well in London. There will also be a slew of fast Ethiopian women who landed in the fastest women's finishes in 2009 which leaves the potential for a surprise win a possibility - Bezunesh Bekele, Atsede Habtamu and Aselefech Mergia. And don't leave out Askale Magarsa Tafa whose 2:21:31 from the 2008 Berlin Marathon (second place finish).
With this caliber of talent and one of the fastest courses in the world, the 2010 London Marathon promises a spectacular day of running.
|Samuel Wanjiru||23||Kenya||1||2:05:10, London, 2009|| History |
|Duncan Kibet||30||Kenya||2||2:04:27, Rotterdam, 2009|| History |
|Abel Kirui||27||Kenya||3||2:05:04, Rotterdam, 2009|| History |
|Martin Lel||31||Kenya||4||2:05:15, London, 2008|| History |
|Tsegaye Kebede||23||Ethiopia||5||2:06:10, Fukuoka, 2008; 2:05:18, Fukuoka, 2009|| History |
|Jaouad Gharib||37||Morocco||6||2:05:27, London, 2009|| History |
|Emmanuel Mutai||25||Kenya||7||2:06:15, London, 2008|| History |
|Yonas Kifle||33||Eritrea||8||2:07:34, Amsterdam, 2007|| History |
|Abderrahim Bouramdane||32||Morocco||9||2:08:20, Seoul, 2007|| History |
|Marilson Gomes dos Santos||32||Brazil||10||2:08:37, London, 2007|| History |
|Abdi Abdirahman||33||USA||11||2:08:56, Chicago, 2006|| History |
|Satoshi Irifune||34||Japan||12||2:09:23, Fukuoka, 2008|| History |
|Takayuki Matsumiya||30||Japan||13||2:10:04, Rotterdam, 2007|| History |
|Ridouane Harroufi||28||Morocco||14||2:10:14, Seoul, 2008|| History |
|Dan Robinson||35||Great Britain & NI||15||2:12:14, Amsterdam, 2009|| History |
|Zersenay Tadese||28||Eritrea||16||Debut|| History |
|Andrew Lemoncello||27||Great Britain & NI||17||Debut|| History |
|Peter Nowill||31||Australia||18||Debut|| History |
|Irina Mikitenko||37||Germany||101||2:19:19, Berlin, 2008|| History |
|Deena Kastor||37||USA||102||2:19:36, London, 2006|| History |
|Berhane Adere||36||Ethiopia||103||2:20:42, Chicago, 2006|| History |
|Lyudmila Petrova||41||Russian Federation||104||2:21:29, London, 2006|| History |
|Constantina Dita||40||Romania||105||2:21:30, Chicago, 2005|| History |
|Svetlana Zakharova||40||Russian Federation||106||2:21:31, Chicago, 2002|| History |
|Askale Magarsa Tafa||25||Ethiopia||107||2:21:31, Berlin, 2008|| History |
|Bezunesh Bekele||26||Ethiopia||108||2:23:09, Dubai, 2008|| History |
|Mara Yamauchi||36||Great Britain||109||2:23:12, London, 2009|| History |
|Bai Xue||21||China||110||2:23:27, Xiamen, 2008|| History |
|Yoshimi Ozaki||28||Japan||111||2:23:30, Tokyo, 2008|| History |
|Mari Ozaki||34||Japan||112||2:23:30, Osaka, 2003|| History |
|Liliya Shobukhova||32||Russian Federation||113||2:24:24, London, 2009|| History |
|Atsede Habtamu||22||Ethiopia||114||2:24:47, Berlin, 2009|| History |
|Aselefech Mergia||25||Ethiopia||115||2:25:02, Paris, 2009|| History |
|Yukiko Akaba||30||Japan||116||2:25:40, Osaka, 2009|| History |
|Inga Abitova||28||Russian Federation||117||2:25:55, London, 2009|| History |
|Kim Smith||28||New Zealand||118||Debut|| History |
|Tanith Maxwell||33||South Africa||119||2:36:38, Warsaw, 2008|| History |
|Mariya Konovalova||35||Russian Federation||120||Debut|| History |