Kipchoge - A Racing Certainty?
Paula Radcliffe got it right when, commenting at the Commonwealth Games last week, she said that any marathon is hugely unpredictable. But got it wrong when she said that usually when a runner has just a couple of kilometres to go then they can usually drag themselves to the finish line.
One man who has spent the last five years thrashing Paula's unpredicatable theory (and the perceived wisdom) is Eliud Kipchoge. Nobody beats Kipchoge in the marathon (well only one runner so far - Wilson Kipsang in breaking the world record in Berlin in 2013). And although a top class field has been assembled for the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon it's going to be a major surprise if the Kenyan Olympic champion doesn't record marathon success No.9.
What is less predictable is Kipchoge's time - can he lower his 2016 PB (at London) and grab Dennis Kimetto's world record (2:02:57)? Some good judges think that Kenenisa Bekele can make a race of it while Daniel Wanjiru returns to defend his title and both Bedan Karoki and Guye Adola have chances.
What about Mo? The four times Olympic gold medallist has been low key in the build-up to the race suggesting that Steve Jones' longstanding British marathon record of 2:07:13 is his target. And there are a number of doubts about Mo Farah marathon man - including his age (he's 35) and his long striding running style. Jones incidentally thinks that Farah will not only beat his record but smash it.
Meanwhile Kipchoge has shared his thoughts pre-race: "Running a very beautiful race is what I have on my mind." Why does such a relaxed aspiration carry such menace!
Another London Marathon runner with a time in mind is Mary Keitany in the women's race. Paula Radcliffe's best of 2:15.25 has stood as a world record for 15 years but the confidence of the Kenyan ace is high after claiming the world record in a women's only race last year and clocking a half marathon PB of 1:04:55 in February.
However before the fancy business of breaking world records Keitany has to win the race and with Tirunesh Dibaba, three times Olympic champion, in opposition that is not a foregone conclusion. However the use of pacemakers could well see the Radcliffe record come under threat.
The affect of hot weather on Sunday may be a factor in the elite races but it will be a major consideration for the thousands of recreational and charity runners set to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame (plus 3, 4, 5 or 6 hours!).
Race organisers have already issued warnings that participants need to be wary of conditions on the day and that fancy dress runners need to be cautious and possibly change their plans while all runners should consider modifying their target times. In addition organisers have ordered thousands of bottles of extra water and ice, and set up six shower stations on the course so runners can cool down.
Start times for London Marathon are: 08:55 – Elite Wheelchair races; 09:15 – Elite Woman’s race and 10:00 – Elite Men’s Race & mass race.