Brigid Kosgei on her way to winning the London Marathon (© Getty Images)
Brigid Kosgei and Shura Kitata will defend their titles at the Virgin Money London Marathon, a World Athletics Elite Platinum Label Road Race, on Sunday 3 October.
Kosgei, the world record-holder and Olympic silver medallist, will attempt to win her third successive London Marathon title. The Kenyan, who’ll be racing again just eight weeks after the Olympic marathon in Sapporo, will be challenged by a star-studded list of athletes including New York City Marathon champion Joyciline Jepkosgei and six other women who have run under 2:20.
“It is a great feeling to be coming back, as London is one of my favourite marathons,” said Kosgei, whose world record 2:14:04 was set at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. “Last year’s win was very special, particularly given what the whole world was going through – it was fantastic just to have the London Marathon organised and even more so to be the winner. I hope to arrive again in very good shape and win for the third time.”
Others in the elite women’s field include Ethiopia’s Roza Dereje, whose PB of 2:18:30 makes her the 10th-fastest woman of all time, and Birhane Dibaba, who won the Tokyo Marathon in 2018 and 2015. The other sub-2:20 women in the field are Valary Jemeli, Zeineba Yimer and Tigist Girma.
Australia’s Sinead Diver, who has had two top 10 London Marathon finishes in the past two years and was 10th at the Tokyo Olympics, will also return.
In the men’s race, Kitata – who pulled out of the Olympic marathon last weekend after suffering in the hot and humid conditions in Sapporo – will line up with the other men who joined him on the podium in 2020: Vincent Kipchumba and Sisay Lemma, another who struggled in the heat of the Olympic marathon.
Valencia Marathon champion and 2020 world leader Evans Chebet and two-time Tokyo Marathon champion Birhanu Legese will also be on the start line, as will 2019 London Marathon podium finishers Mosinet Geremew and Mule Wasihun of Ethiopia.
“I was disappointed to have to pull out of the Olympic Games marathon but I just did not adapt to the weather well,” said Kitata. “It was very cold in Ethiopia prior to leaving for Tokyo and when we got there the weather took its toll on my body and made my breathing very hard. But I’m healthy and looking forward to racing in the Virgin Money London Marathon again. I am preparing very well and my coach has me very ready to defend my title in London.
“Winning last year was an unforgettable memory and it gave me huge excitement to bring back such a big victory to my country and to make my family and coaches proud. I have set my mind on how I can run fast and better than last year and I’m looking forward to seeing if I can repeat the victory and make history in the race.”
The 2021 London Marathon returns to its traditional course from Blackheath to The Mall after last year’s elite-only race on a multiple closed-loop circuit around St James’s Park. Up to 50,000 runners are expected in the mass race.
It will form part of a thrilling climax to the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XIII, with all of major marathons – Berlin, London, Chicago, Boston, Tokyo and New York – taking place over a six-week period. The Series started at the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and will finish at the TCS New York City Marathon in November. In the women's standings Kosgei is a clear leader, sitting 25 points of compatriot and Virgin Money London Marathon rival Jepkosgei. While in the men's standings, Kitata is currently in second place with Legese in joint fourth place.
Organisers for World Athletics
Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:14:04
Roza Dereje (ETH) 2:18:30
Birhane Dibaba (ETH) 2:18:35
Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN) 2:18:40
Valary Jemeli (KEN) 2:19:10
Degitu Azimeraw (ETH) 2:19:26
Zeineba Yimer (ETH) 2:19:28
Tigist Girma (ETH) 2:19:52
Ashete Bekere (ETH) 2:20:14
Alemu Megertu (ETH) 2:21:10
Sinead Diver (AUS) 2:24:11
Allie Kieffer (USA) 2:28:12
Moira Stewartova (CZE) 2:29:28
Birhanu Legese (ETH) 2:02:48
Mosinet Geremew (ETH) 2:02:55
Titus Ekiru (KEN) 2:02:57
Evans Chebet (KEN) 2:03:00
Mule Wasihun (ETH) 2:03:16
Sisay Lemma (ETH) 2:03:36
Kinde Atanaw (ETH) 2:03:51
Shura Kitata (ETH) 2:04:49
Vincent Kipchumba (KEN) 2:05:09
Tristan Woodfine (CAN) 2:10:51