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2011 London Marathon Preview
by Sharon Ekstrom
On this page: Overview | Men's Race | Women's Race | The Americans | Full Starter List / Performances at London
The 2011 London Marathon has gathered one of the best fields ever brought together for a marathon. While we state something on that theme each year, race organizers have really put together a "dream" roster for 2011. The race will host eight men who have run sub 2:07 and five women who have run sub 2:22; among them more than a dozen Olympians, two of the world's fastest male half marathoners, multiple world champions and national record holders.
photo credit: Victah Sailer
The Men's Race
Eight of the top 10 finishers from the 2010 London Marathon will be returning, among them are 2010 champion/2009 runner-up Olympic bronze medalist Tsegaye Kebede, World Championship silver medallist Emmanuel Mutai, Olympic silver medalist Jaouad Gharib, reigning World Champion Abel Kirui and two-time New York City Marathon champion Marilson Gomes dos Santos. For the 2011 London Marathon's mens race there will be eight sub 2:07 men who are undoubtably the world's best with resumes decorated with victories of international races and championship events. Notably absent will be 2009 champion and course record-holder, Sammy Wanjiru who was a late withdrawal from the field; but partly making up for that absence is the late addition of three-time champion Martin Lel, who had bested Wanjiru in the 2008 race, is a late entrant.
If the competition wasn't enough - to top off the 2011 field are James Kwambai, the third fastest marathoner in the world with a 2:04:27 (2009 Rotterdam Marathon), Patrick Makau, the fourth fastest marathoner in the world with the fastest finish in 2010 with a 2:04:48 (2010 Rotterdam Marathon) and Bazu Worku, who at age 20 has the world juniors record and one of the fastest marathon debuts ever, a 2:06:15 at the 2009 Paris Marathon. While Kwambai was slow to develop his marathon prowess - improving and falling back over a period of years; Makau and Worku took naturally to the distance, excelling from the start. Other standouts in the field include Abderrahim Bouramdane, Marilson Gomes dos Santos, Viktor Röthlin and Yonas Kifle.
Writing from the USA, we have to mention "the Americans," especialy as the 2011 London Marathon will be hosting many who are hoping to return to London in 2012 as part of the Olympic Marathon. America's 2008 Marathon Olympians will not be at this London Marathon: Ryan Hall will be running the Boston Marathon on the same weekend; Dathan Ritzenhein is recovering from surgery to correct a number of injuries which continue to hamper his racing; Bryan Sell has retired from professional running and is studying dentistry at Penn State. Instead, a new crew of Americans with Olympic Dreams will be running Jason Lemkuhle (second alternate for the 2008 Olympic Team) and Jorge Torres have established themselves in the distance and will look to better their 2:12 and 2:13 personal bests, while getting the lay of the land in London. The top two finishers at the USA Half Marathon championships, Mo Trafeh and Patrick Smyth, will both be debuting at the marathon distance in London and we'll watch them with special interest.
The Women's Race
While the men's race has generally stolen the show at London (with deep fields and talk of course records and fast times), the women's marathon at London does a great job of showcasing top women marathoners, although always under a shadow. As great as she was, Paula Radcliffe's legend continues to overshadow the women's race at London where Paula's world and course records from London in the 2003 (2:15:25 - mixed race with men) and 2005 (2:17:42 - women's only race) remain unassailable. A couple of Eastern European women have emerged as top performers and favorites in London - Liliya Shobukhova and Irina Mikitenko - and both will return joined by strong Chinese and Ethiopian contingents.
The women's field headliner is the fastest female marathoner of 2010 - Liliya Shobukhova returning to defend her title, and as the winner of two Marathon Majors races in 2010, Shobukhova can guarantee her share of the series jackpot with a win in London. Originally a steeple-chaser, Shobukhova has proven to be one of the strongest marathoners capable of devastating top fields with her incredible finishing kick. We note that at the conclusion of the 2009 Chicago Marathon when Shobukhova started her final kick it appeared as if the other runners were simply going backwards! Two other former champions of the event - 2007 champion Xue Chunxiu and 2008 and 2009 champion Irina Mikitenko, both sub 2:20 marathoners, will seek to reclaim their title. The most exciting addition to the field is the Half Marathon world record holder Mary Keitany (2011 Ras al Khamaih Half Marathon - 65:50), who will be running her second career marathon. Former half marathon world record holder, Lornah Kiplagat, is also returning to the distance for the first time since 2007.
While the women previously mentioned should be considered the favorites, London will see its share of decorated female marathoners coming to strut their stuff. A strong Chinese contingent along with Chunxiu are Bai Xue, reigning World Champion, and Zhu Xiaolin, who has placed top 5 at the 2007 and 2009 World Championships and at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It will be interesting to see if the Chinese work together as the Africans have in the past. Also in attendance will be Olympic gold medalist Constantina Dita who is a nine-time veteran of the London Marathon and at 41 remains competitive and should take the Masters honors.
Despite rumors that the Ethiopian Federation was selecting their world championships team from the Boston Marathon, London will see a strong Ethiopian contingent who have always given top performances at running events, including Askale Tafa, Mergia Aselefech, Bezunesh Bekele and Aberu Kebede.
The rivalry between the Russians and the Ethiopians in women's fields is as noticeable as Kenya versus Ethiopian in the men's. Along with Shobukhova, other Russians in the field include Inga Abitova and Mariya Konovalova. Inga Abitova, the 2010 runner-up, has more than a solid track background: she is best known as the Russian National Champion in 10000m. Konovalova has seen top performances at championship events in 5000m, 10000m and cross country. Despite having no victories at these events, her 3rd place behind Shobukhova at the 2010 Chicago Marathon in her second career marathon (she debuted at the 2010 London Marathon) proves that she is still capable of excelling in the distance.
Also in the field, we'll look forward to seeing top Japanese marathoner Yuri Kano and American Magdalena Lewy Boulet to better their times with the Olympics around the corner.
The Absence of top Britons
Absent from the field are two top British nationals - marathon world record holder and three-time champion of the London Marathon (2002, 2003, 2005), Paula Radcliffe, runner-up from the 2009 London Marathon Mara Yamauchi out as a result of an injury and 2009 European Cross Country Champion Hayley Yelling.
Radcliffe after having had her second child in September 2010 will be returning to racing at the Manchester 10K in May. Yamauchi who sought redemption after a poor 2010 London performance is sidelined with injuries. And Yelling, sister-in-law of Liz Yelling (a top British marathoner) who came out of retirement twice has a torn calf - eliminating any hope of a World Championship or Olympic contention in distance. This dearth of British runners may be a slight concern to British Athletics who look to these women and primarily Radcliffe to perform well as London hosts the 2012 Olympics.
|Tsegaye Kebede (24)||ETH||1||2:05:18, Fukuoka, 2009|| History |
|James Kwambai (28)||KEN||2||2:04:27, Rotterdam, 2009|| History |
|Patrick Makau (26)||KEN||3||2:04:48, Rotterdam, 2010|| History |
|Martin Lel (33)||KEN||4||2:05:15, London, 2008|| History |
|Abel Kirui (29)||KEN||5||2:05:04, Rotterdam, 2009|| History |
|Bazu Worku (21)||ETH||6||2:05:25, Berlin, 2010|| History |
|Jaouad Gharib (39)||MAR||7||2:05:27, London, 2009|| History |
|Emmanuel Mutai (27)||KEN||8||2:06:15, London, 2008|| History |
|Viktor Röthlin (37)||SUI||9||2:07:23, Tokyo, 2008|| History |
|Abderrahime Bouramdane||MAR||10||2:07:33, London, 2010|| History |
|Yonas Kifle (34)||ERI||11||2:07:34, Amsterdam, 2007|| History |
|José Manuel Martinez (40)||ESP||12||2:08:09, Rotterdam, 2003|| History |
|Marilson Gomes dos Santos (34)||BRA||13||2:08:37, London, 2007|| History |
|Lee Troop (38)||AUS||14||2:09:49, Otsu, 2003|| History |
|Dmitriy Safronov||RUS||15||2:10:12, Fukuoka, 2010|| History |
|Luis Feiteira||POR||16||2:11:57, Prague, 2009|| History |
|Cuthbert Nyasango||ZIM||17||2:12:40, Boston, 2010|| History |
|Ser-Od Bat-Ochir||MGL||18||2:12:42, Berlin, 2010|| History |
|Jason Lehmkuhle||USA||19||2:12:24, Boston, 2010|| History |
|Mike Shelley||AUS||20||2:13:05, Rotterdam, 2010|| History |
|Michael Aish||USA||21||2:13:21, Tempe, 2008|| History |
|Andrew Lemoncello||GBR||22||2:13:40, London, 2010|| History |
|Collis Birmingham||AUS||23|| || History |
|Mohamed Trafeh||USA||24|| || History |
|Stephan Shay||USA||25|| || History |
|Patrick Smyth||USA||26|| || History |
|Samuel Wanjiru (25)||KEN||DNS||2:05:10, London, 2009|| History |
|Dathan Ritzenhein (29)||USA||DNS||2:10:00, London, 2009|| History |
|Dylan Wykes||CAN|| ||2:12:39, Sacramento, 2010|| History |
|Reid Coolsaet||CAN|| ||2:16:53, Berlin World Championships, 2009|| History |
|Liliya Shobukhova (34)||RUS||101||2:20:25, Chicago, 2010|| History |
|Zhou Chunxiu (33)||CHN||102||2:19:51, Seoul, 2006|| History |
|Irina Mikitenko (39)||GER||103||2:19:19, Berlin, 2008|| History |
|Constantina Dita (41)||ROU||104||2:21:30, Chicago, 2005|| History |
|Askale Tafa (27)||ETH||105||2:21:31, Berlin, 2008|| History |
|Atsede Baysa||ETH||106||2:22:04, Paris, 2010|| History |
|Inga Abitova (29)||RUS||107||2:22:19, London, 2010|| History |
|Lornah Kiplagat (37)||NED||108||2:22:22, Osaka, 2003|| History |
|Aselefech Mergia (26)||ETH||109||2:22:38, London, 2010|| History |
|Bezunesh Bekele (28)||ETH||110||2:23:09, Dubai, 2008|| History |
|Mariya Konovalova (37)||RUS||111||2:23:50, Chicago, 2010|| History |
|Zhu Xiaolin||CHN||112||2:23:57, Beijing, 2002|| History |
|Aberu Kebede (22)||ETH||113||2:23:58, Berlin, 2010|| History |
|Yukiko Akaba (32)||JPN||114||2:24:55, London, 2010|| History |
|Edna Kiplagat (32)||KEN||115||2:25:38, Los Angeles, 2010|| History |
|Magdalena Lewy Boulet (38)||USA||116||2:26:22, Rotterdam, 2010|| History |
|Liz Yelling (37)||GBR||117||2:28:33, London, 2008|| History |
|Mary Keitany (29)||KEN||118||2:29:01, New York City, 2010|| History |
|Kirsten Melkevik||NOR||119||2:29:12, Frankfurt, 2007|| History |
|Fiona Docherty||NZL||120||2:32:17, Chicago, 2010|| History |
|Tanith Maxwell||RSA||121||2:32:33, Berlin, 2010|| History |
|Jo Pavey||GBR||122|| || History |
|Jessica Augusto||POR||123|| || History |
|Hayley Yelling||GBR||125|| || History |
|Maria Sig Moller||DEN||126|| || History |
|Mara Yamauchi (38)||GBR||DNS||2:23:12, London, 2009|| History |
|Bai Xue (23)||CHN|| ||2:23:27, Xiamen, 2008|| History |
|Zhu Xiaolin (27)||CHN|| ||2:23:57, Beijing, 2002|| History |
|Yuri Kano (33)||JPN||DNS||2:24:27, Tokyo, 2008|| History |
|Mizhuho Nasukawa (32)||JPN|| ||2:25:38, Tokyo, 2009|| History |
|Yurika Nakamura (25)||JPN|| ||2:25:51, Nagoya, 2008|| History |
|Madoka Ogi (28)||JPN|| ||2:26:55, Osaka, 2008|| History |
|Lisa Weightman (32)||AUS|| ||2:28:48, Nagano, 2010|| History |
|Yukari Sahaku (23)||JPN|| ||2:28:55, Tokyo, 2009|| History |
|Azusa Nojiri (24)||JPN|| ||2:29:12, Osaka, 2010|| History |
|Yoshiko Fujinaga (30)||JPN|| ||2:29:53, Berlin World Championships, 2009|| History |