The women’s marathon world record-holder and Olympic silver medallist Brigid Kosgei headlines the deepest Virgin Money London Marathon field in years, chasing her third consecutive title. Kosgei has her work cut out for her, with the field featuring nine women who have run under 2:20.
Kosgei is the fastest woman in history over the marathon distance, setting the world record of 2:14:04 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. This Sunday will mark her fourth straight appearance in London. For two years, Kosgei won all four marathons that she entered. Her first loss did not come until the Olympic marathon, where she finished second to her compatriot Peres Jepchirchir. Although Kosgei will be tough to beat, she and seven other elites will be racing eight weeks after the Olympic marathon.
Those who may threaten Kosgei’s reign are Ethiopia’s Roza Dereje, who finished fourth behind Kosgei in Sapporo, and Birhane Dibaba, a two-time Tokyo Marathon champion who most recently DNF’d at the Olympics. Lonah Salpeter, who has run the seventh-fastest time ever (2:17:45), is a dark horse for the win. She showed incredible fitness in Tokyo, mixing it up with the leaders for 35 km of the race, before experiencing period cramps down the final stretch.
You're feeling nervous, your sleep hasn't been great, you feel like everybody else knows what they're doing, and you don't.
— TCS London Marathon (@LondonMarathon) September 30, 2021
Conditions in London are projected to be the exact opposite of the humid Olympic marathon – rain and 30 km/h winds. Last year, Kosgei ran 2:18:58 to win the marathon on a similarly wet and rainy day. On that day, other elites struggled to break 2:25.
Other notable elites in the women’s field are the winner of the 2019 New York City Marathon, Joyciline Jepkosgei, Sinead Diver of Australia (who was 10th at the Olympics) and 2018 Toronto Scotiabank Half Marathon champ Allie Kieffer, who is making a return to the marathon after dropping out of the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2020.
The men’s field is just as intriguing, as the reigning champion Shura Kitata returns to defend his title. Kitata had a rough Olympic marathon, falling out of the race due to the heat in Japan.
The men’s field features several athletes who have run under 2:05, including Birhanu Legese (2019 and 2020 Tokyo Marathon champion), Mosinet Geremew (2019 World Championship silver medallist) and Titus Ekiru, who has run the fastest time in the world this year, 2:02:57. Only two men have ever run faster than Legese (2:02:48) – Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele.
"I am prepared very well to run on Sunday," he said through a translator. pic.twitter.com/bHo2JszSLq
— David Monti (@d9monti) September 29, 2021
Canada’s Tristan Woodfine will return to the streets of London after setting a personal best of 2:10:51 here in 2020. Woodfine stated in a CBC article that he is out to break the Canadian record: “This year, there is nothing for me to lose, so we’ll see what I’ve got.”
Woodfine’s marathon build began in March. He thought he was Olympic-bound, but was snubbed of a spot on after Cam Levins ran a faster time during the final week of qualification. He will look to become the first Canadian to secure a spot on the 2022 World Championship team by running 2:11:30, but his main goal is to chase the Canadian record and become the third-ever Canadian marathoner to run under 2:10.
Last year, runners had to contend with pouring rain and wind. The conditions on Sunday should be the same, which could mean slower times. If you are looking to watch the London Marathon from Canada, FloTrack will be airing the race on Sunday, Oct. 3, starting at 4 a.m. E.T.