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2012 London Marathon Preview
by Sharon Ekstrom
On this page: Overview | Men's Race | Women's Race | Olympic Berth | Full Starter List / Performances at London
photo credit: Victah Sailer
Can Emmanuel Mutai Repeat?
The London Marathon set for Sunday, April 22, 2012 promises to be an historic event. While the pre-race story for the 2012 Boston Marathon focused on the hot weather, the story leading into London is the elite field in both the men and women's races, one of the fastest ever assembled in one race. With the 2012 London Olympic Games looming in less than 100 days, a few key nations who tend to dominate long distance running events have yet to determine their teams - mainly Kenya and Ethiopia - both known for the best long distance athletes in the world. This will not be less of a battle between Kenya versus Ethiopia as much as it will be a race among compatriots.
In the men's field familiar names who are major contenders at big city marathons and championship events known for setting record times will be up for the challenge. Defending champion Emmanuel Mutai, Patrick Makau, Wilson Kipsang, Abel Kirui, Martin Lel, Tsegaye Kebede, Gharib, Marilson Gomes dos Santos and Zersenay Tadese will highlight a field that contains 11 men who are faster than 2:05:30. And of that eleven, four men are faster than 2:05:00 - Emmanual Mutai who set a new course record (2:04:40) at last year's event, world record holder Patrick Makau (2:03:38), 2011 Frankfurt Marathon champion Wilson Kipsang (2:03:42) and Markos Geneti (2:04:54) (Note: At press time we were informed that Markos Geneti has dropped out of the field).
The women's race will see seven women faster than 2:20:50. Leading the charge will be defending champion Mary Keitany who is the fastest in the field with a 2:19:19 course record from last year's event. She will have three other 2:19 challengers - Florence Kiplagat, Irina Mikitenko and Lucy Kabuu. And along with them will be veterans of the distance - Edna Kiplagat, Bezunesh Bekele, Constantina Dita, Atsede Baysa and Jelena Prokopcuka.
While the athletes are the key players in the story this weekend, the main story will be where do they go from here?
The Men's Race
Time is Not on His Side - Mutai's Dilemma
For nearly every race MarathonGuide.com writes that race organizers put together the deepest fields ever; but there is no denying that the 2012 London Marathon men's field is anything but when one looks are the stats of the stacked field. Defending Champion Emmanuel Mutai returns to defend his title against a marathon world record holder, a half marathon record holder and a man who attempted to break the world record; but despite the rainy conditions came five seconds short of doing so - Patrick Makau, Zersenay Tadese and Wilson Kipsang. These three men being notably faster than him and Makau and Kipsang looking to make the Kenyan Olympic marathon team.
Mutai (of no relation to 2011 Boston Marathon Champion Geoffrey Mutai) had broken Sammy Wanjiru's previous course record by 30 seconds at the 2011 event. Wanjiru had set the bar in 2009 and many others have since risen to the challenge. In 2011 Mutai finished in 2:04:40, a time that may be attainable by the ten other men in the field who have run sub 2:05:30; not to mention other unknown talent eager to better their times in this field.
And while he doesn't already have enough to challenge him, other top performers in the field include: a three time winner of the race - Martin Lel, a two-time World Marathon Champion (2009, 2011) Abel Kirui, a two-time World Marathon Champion (2003, 2005) Jaouad Gharib, a two-time New York City Marathon winner Marilson Gomes dos Santos and the 2010 London Champion Tsegaye Kebede. There are too many others to write about; but we could go on all day.
Another item of note is that Mutai came down with typhoid one month ago and lost a few days of training. He has since made a full recovery and his training partners - Henry Sugut and Bernard Kipyego - just ran successful spring marathons. Sugut won the Vienna Marathon in new course record and Kipyego was 3rd at the Boston Marathon.
Olympic Berth Through a top London Marathon Finish
2012 is a huge year for London. The 2012 London Marathon will showcase what will be the fastest fields ever assembled in one race and in less than 100 days, the city will host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games (for the third time) in what will be the Games of the XXX Olympiad where three of the best athletes from each country will compete in the marathon. While many African Federations (mainly Kenya and Ethiopia) are waiting to see how their elites would perform in spring marathon season in order to help make a decision, it all comes down to the last big city race of the season - London.
Known for it's fast, flat course, the race has historically drawn runners looking for fast times. This year, Kenya seems to have chosen London as their unofficial "team trials" and they will make their selection right after London. Six men were chosen for their provisional squad - Mutai, Makau and Kirui..but no one can second guess what the Kenyan Federation will decide on April 30th. And with Geoffrey Mutai Kenyan Olympic Team contender having dropped out of the 2012 Boston Marathon race due to stomach cramping, his Olympic berth is in question. And many others are aiming for it. While other fast courses last weekend had winds adversely affecting world record attempts at the Rotterdam and Paris Marathons, all eyes are on London.
Notably absent from the London Marathon field are top Americans marathoners who ran the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Team Trials in January. Many have not recovered and/or are sitting out of spring marathon season or are focusing on the US Track Trials in July.
In the London field, there will be a few without the added pressure of making their national teams for the Olympics - namely Jauoad Gharib of Morocco, Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil, Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea who will make his own decision of whether he will run the marathon or the 10000m after he finishes the London race. The Kenyan and Ethiopian teams remain undecided. Even bronze medalist from the 2008 Olympics Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia who won the 2010 London Marathon told the press that he will have to run faster than 2:04:00 to make the team. While there had been three Ethiopian runners who were preliminarily selected for the team, he cited that the outcome of the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon saw two Ethiopians finish in 2:04:48 and 2:04:58. Kebede remains unfazed. He added that if he didn't make the Olympic team he could go to the World Championships (2013) or the Olympics after that.
When it comes down to the possibilities of pressure of the impending race day, Makau puts it best - it all comes down to the spirit of running. "We are like brothers and nothing bad an be created from running. It is all a matter of how much we train and what you have done. But it's also about the spirit of running.And because of this, for me, I can't see pressure."
Nonetheless, all the men agreed that this would be a tough field to beat; but we can't help but be excited for the outcome.
photo credit: Victah Sailer -
Keitany Looks for a Repeat
The Women's Race
While the men's field is deep, the women's field is fantastic. While many saw a decline in fast female marathon finishes, many began to wonder if this would be the trend for years to come. Excuses were made, such as elites were focusing more on motherhood or women were more concerned with winning and not doing the best they could or women couldn't handle the distance, but it's good to know this is not the case. Over the past two years women are changing history and getting faster times.
Some women who made that difference in the recent past will be in the 2012 London Marathon field. Seven women have run faster than 2:20:50 - Mary Keitany leads the group with the fastest finish at the 2011 London Marathon there she set the course record in 2:19:19. She is followed by Irena Mikitenko of Germany who was the 2008 and 2009 London Champion, Lucy Kabuu who just ran an incredible 2012 Dubai Marathon in 2:19:34 in what was essentially her first complete marathon! Florence Kiplagat is also in the group. With the first marathon she completed was at the 2011 Berlin Marathon which she ran in 2:19:44.
That's not to say the ten 2:20-2:23:00 runners in the field are not capable of surprises on race day. Defending champion Edna Kiplagat may not be the fastest in the field, but her toughness in the distance has gotten her victories at the 2010 Los Angeles Marathon, 2010 New York City Marathon and her 2011 World Championship Marathon win. Veterans like Edna Kiplagat, Aberu Kebede, Bezunesh Bekele, Atsede Baysa, Inga Abitova and even Constantina Dita always remain a threat to the field. There are no guarantees in the marathon. And let the best woman win!
Where the 2012 London Marathon will basically come down to survival of the fittest or defending champion Keitany versus 2011 Berlin champion Florence Kiplagat versus 2010 New York City Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, who's not to say that runner-up from the 2011 Chicago Marathon, Ejegayehu Dibaba - the older sister of big time track stars Tirunesh and Genzebe. couldn't steal the win. Perhaps what is most important is a spot on the Olympic team? The stakes are raised with the Africans looking to make their Olympic dreams a reality.
Half Marathon World Record Holder, Keitany is a predictable favorite.
|Emmanuel Mutai (27)||KEN||1||2:04:40, London, 2011|| History |
|Patrick Makau (27)||KEN||2||2:03:38, Berlin, 2011|| History |
|Wilson Kipsang (30)||KEN||3||2:03:42, Frankfurt, 2011|| History |
|Markos Geneti (27)||ETH||4||2:04:54, Dubai, 2012|| History |
|Abel Kirui (29)||KEN||5||2:05:04, Rotterdam, 2009|| History |
|Vincent Kipruto (24)||KEN||6||2:05:13, Rotterdam, 2010|| History |
|Martin Lel (33)||KEN||7||2:05:15, London, 2008|| History |
|Tsegaye Kebede (25)||ETH||8||2:05:18, Fukuoka, 2009|| History |
|Feyisa Lilesa (22)||ETH||9||2:08:10, Chicago, 2010|| History |
|Bazu Worku (21)||ETH||10||2:05:25, Berlin, 2010|| History |
|Jaouad Gharib (39)||MOR||11||2:05:27, London, 2009|| History |
|Marilson Gomes dos Santos (34)||BRA||12||2:06:34, London, 2011|| History |
|Yared Asmeron (33)||ERI||13||2:07:27, Chuncheon, 2011|| History |
|Samuel Tsegay (23)||ERI||14||2:07:28, Amsterdam, 2011|| History |
|Abreham Cherkos (22)||ETH||15||2:06:13, Boston, 2011|| History |
|Abderrahim Bouramdane (34)||MOR||16||2:07:33, London, 2010|| History |
|Adil Annani (31)||MOR||17||2:10:15, Beppu-Oita, 2009|| History |
|Solonei Rocha da Silva (30)||BRA||18||2:11:34, Padova, 2011|| History |
|Scott Westcott (36)||AUS||19||2:11:36, Beppu-Oita, 2005|| History |
|Zersenay Tadese (30)||ERI||20||2:12:03, London, 2010|| History |
|Martin Dent (33)||AUS||21||2:14:46, Fukuoka, 2008|| History |
|Mary Keitany (30)||KEN||101||2:19:19, London, 2011|| History |
|Irina Mikitenko (39)||GER||102||2:19:19, Berlin, 2008|| History |
|Lucy Kapuu (28)||KEN||103||2:19:34, Dubai, 2012|| History |
|Florence Kiplagat (25)||KEN||104||2:19:44, Berlin, 2011|| History |
|Bezunesh Bekele (28)||ETH||105||2:20:30, Dubai, 2012|| History |
|Aberu Kebede (22)||ETH||106||2:20:33, Dubai, 2012|| History |
|Edna Kiplagat (32)||KEN||107||2:20:46, London, 2011|| History |
|Constantina Dita (42)||ROM||108||2:21:30, Chicago, 2005|| History |
|Atsede Baysa (25)||ETH||109||2:22:04, Paris, 2010|| History |
|Ejegayehu Dibaba (30)||ETH||110||2:22:09, Chicago, 2011|| History |
|Inga Abitova (30)||RUS||111||2:22:19, London, 2010|| History |
|Korene Jelila (25)||ETH||112||2:22:43, Toronto Waterfront, 2011|| History |
|Priscah Jeptoo (27)||KEN||113||2:22:55, Paris, 2011|| History |
|Jelena Prokopcuka (35)||LAT||114||2:22:56, Osaka, 2005|| History |
|Isabellah Andersson (31)||SWE||115||2:23:41, Dubai, 2011|| History |
|Maria Konovalova (37)||RUS||116||2:23:50, Chicago, 2010|| History |
|Jessica Augusto (30)||POR||117||2:24:33, London, 2011|| History |
|Nadia Ejjafini (34)||ITA||118||2:26:15, Frankfurt, 2011|| History |
|Yuliya Ruban (28)||UKR||119||2:27:00, Boston, 2011|| History |
|Liz Yelling (37)||GBR||2:28:33, London, 2008|| History |
|Claire Hallissey (29)||GBR||2:29:27, Chicago, 2011|| History |