Olympics and two-time London Marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge will not defend his title this year, according to the organisers.
Kipchoge has, instead opted to focus on sponsor Nike race around the same time as he seeks to run under two hours at an unknown destination.
“I am going to be running for sponsor Nike so I will not defend my London title,” added Kipchoge.
The Olympic champion is set to race alongside Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea.
The London Marathon organisers have released a star-studded field for this year’s event to be heralded by Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele.
Bekele’s big rival at the event will be 2015 New York City Marathon, Stanley Biwott, who hopes to mark his 31st birthday, which falls just two
days before the race, with his first win in London.
He finished runner-up in 2014, fourth in 2015 and second again last year in a personal best time of 2:03:51.
Biwott will have top class company in fellow Kenyans Abel Kirui and Daniel Wanjiru.
The experienced Kirui, who won the world marathon title in 2011 and 2013, returns to London for the first time since 2012 when he was
fifth, just four months before winning Olympic silver in the same city.
After a number of years without a major victory, he was a surprise winner of the 2016 Chicago Marathon last October and will be looking for another strong performance as he seeks selection for Kenya’s 2017 World Championship team.
Wanjiru will also be one to watch after he lowered his personal best by almost three minutes to win last October’s Amsterdam Marathon in
Bekele made his London Marathon debut last April when he ran an impressive race to finish third, behind Kenyan duo of Eliud Kipchoge and
Stanley Biwott despite not being fully fit.
Now regarded as one of the true marathon elites, he will have Kipchoge’s course record of 2:03:05 in his sights this year, and perhaps
even Dennis Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57.
Already, a triple Olympic champion and double world record holder on the track, Bekele became the world’s second fastest marathon runner of all time when he won the 2016 Berlin Marathon last September.
Bekele missed the world record by just six seconds when he crossed the finish line in the German capital in 2:03:03 hrs after a thrilling battle
with former world record holder Wilson Kipsang.
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