Ugandan distance runner Stephen Kiprotich (© Getty Images)
Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich is the first major name confirmed for the 2014 Bupa Great North Run. The world and Olympic marathon champion will be making his debut at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race in Newcastle on 7 September.
The 25-year-old, who became a national hero when he won back-to-back global marathon titles at the London 2012 Olympics and 2013 IAAF World Championships, will prepare for the Great North Run by running at the Bupa Great North 10k on 13 July.
For Kiprotich, the 10k event – which finishes on the track in Gateshead International Stadium and takes the 5000-field along Gateshead Quayside – is an ideal opportunity to regain his winning touch after finishing a disappointing 12th in the London Marathon in April.
He also sees it as a chance to get a taste of the big race action on Tyneside before returning for the Great North Run in September.
“The Bupa Great North 10k Gateshead will give Stephen the chance to get his confidence back,” said Pete Riley, elite athlete manager for the event. “Since winning his world and Olympic titles, he’s focused on big city marathons and hasn’t really been ready for them. His management and coaching team just want him to get back into winning ways again.
“It’s also a stepping stone to the Bupa Great North Run for Stephen. He’ll get a feel of the atmosphere he can expect in September and he’ll get an opportunity to see the course.”
Last year the world’s biggest half marathon featured a gripping battle between all-time distance running greats Kenenisa Bekele, Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie, and this year’s race is sure to be another memorable occasion, featuring the 1,000,000th finisher since the event was launched in 1981.
Kiprotich became Uganda’s first Olympic champion for 40 years when he emerged as the surprise winner of the men’s marathon at the 2012 Olympics, following in the footsteps of the late, great John Akii-Bua, who struck gold in the 400m hurdles in world record time in Munich in 1972. Coming just ahead of the 50th anniversary of Ugandan independence, it elevated him to national treasure status.
It was a stunningly executed victory by Kiprotich, and he proved it was no fluke success when he won the marathon at the World Championships in Moscow last August. In doing so, he became only the second athlete to win back-to-back men’s Olympic and world marathon titles after Ethiopian Gezahegne Abera, who achieved the double feat in 2000 and 2001.
Organisers for the IAAF