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Eliud Kipchoge commits to London Marathon, but will he defend Olympic title?

The marathon world record-holder isn't saying what he will do in 2020 beyond defending his London Marathon title

Marathon world record-holder and the hero of INEOS 1:59, Eliud Kipchoge, has announced he will defend his London Marathon title on April 26, 2020. The Olympic Marathon in Sapporo is on August 6, which is only a little over three months later, leading some to speculate whether Kipchoge will race in Japan also, or is planning something else for 2020.

Kipchoge has won the London Marathon four times, more than anyone else in its history. 2020 would be his fifth title, if he wins. A Guardian report speculates that he may try to break his world record of 2:01:39 in London (his course record is 2:02:37, a minute slower). If he runs more conservatively in London and races the Olympic marathon, it’s inconceivable that he would return to Berlin, where his world record (and seven previous world records) was set in 2018, since it is the following month.

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“I am training still at 10 or 20 per cent,” Kipchoge told the Guardian. “So it is hard to say I will do this or this. But hopefully maybe by mid-March I will know what I will be doing in London.”

Another question mark is what Kenenisa Bekele may be planning in 2020. After a string of injuries and setbacks, Bekele pulled off the second-fastest marathon in history at Berlin this year with his 2:01:41 finish, only two seconds off Kipchoge’s world record mark.

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Kipchoge is enjoying some of the effects of his success at INEOS 1:59 in October, where, under tightly controlled conditions that included the use of pacers to block the wind and having nutrition handed to him by a cyclist, he became the first human to run the marathon distance in under two hours. Kipchoge was presented with not one, but two honorary degrees this month–a Doctorate of Science from Laikipia University in Eldoret, Kenya on December 6, and yesterday, a Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Exeter in the UK.

When pressed to comment on negative publicity surrounding his sponsor, Nike, over the Alberto Salazar story and the company’s treatment of women, he declined. However, he did have warm words for Mo Farah, who continued training with Salazar until 2017, even though USADA launched an investigation of his methods in 2015. Kipchoge told the Guardian he believes that Farah, who has announced he will return to the track to defend his 10,000m title at Tokyo 2020, can not only do that, but that he is also capable of running a 2:03 marathon (Farah’s personal best is 2:05).

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