London Marathon’s elite field coordinator David Bedford claims Wilson Kipsang is the man to beat in Sunday’s race, and predicts the greatest women’s marathon ever as Kenya’s ‘fantastic four’ take on Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia.
The former London Marathon race director, a world-record holder himself over 10,000m in the 1970s, has put together arguably the strongest elite fields in marathon history for the 2015 races.
The men’s race is billed as a ‘clash of the champions’ between course record holder Kipsang and the man who beat his world record in Berlin last year, Dennis Kimetto, but Bedford in an email statement, said the more experienced Kipsang could have the edge.
“Wilson Kipsang could well be the best marathon runner we’ve seen in 10 years,” said Bedford.
“He’s an incredible competitor. His record of finishing races is astounding. He rarely has a bad one. He’ll be the person to beat.
“But Dennis Kimetto is the world record holder. He clearly has something to prove, though — he’s in the shadow of Kipsang in some ways. He’ll be looking for the opportunity to outpace Kipsang in London.
“But both of them have to look carefully over their shoulders at Geoffrey Mutai. He ran that amazing time [2:03:02 on a downhill course] in Boston in 2011. It’s now been surpassed, but for me, Geoffrey has unfinished business with the marathon and he’s in London as well. That makes it an amazing competition.
“Add to that Emmanuel Mutai, who has won here before (in 2011) and been second on two occasions. He’s a great competitor – he ran 2:03:13 in Berlin last year.
“Then there’s Eliud Kipchoge, who won Chicago last October. I’m sure he’s not happy being fifth on my list of Kenyans as to who’s going to do well here.
He will be a man with something to prove. He knows that if he wins London, his status goes immediately to number one in the world, and everyone will want him in their competitions in the future.
“So put those people together, get a bit of decent weather and it should be a great race.”
The women’s field is similarly impressive, with the four favourites lauded as the ‘fantastic four’.
“This is the best women’s field ever,” says Bedford. “Edna Kiplagat had her first win last year, and two years running before that she was in second place. She’s a two-times world champion and if it’s a slow race I think her class will out.
“But I can’t see it being a slow race with Mary Keitany in the field. She won in 2011 and 2012 and she’s the reigning New York champion. She took a year out to have a baby and came back stronger than ever. She can fly so it’s not going to be easy.
“Priscah Jeptoo’s a classy act. If she’s there with three miles to go you’ve got to give her a good chance of winning.
“Florence Kiplagat is in there too, the world half marathon record holder. She’s run a couple of decent marathons but can she go the distance? I think she can.”