Men’s London Marathon
- Kenenisa Bekele secured bronze at last year’s event and is one of a number of Ethiopians determined to end years of Kenyan dominance in London. The triple Olympic gold medalist recorded a time of 2:06:36 in 2016, just six weeks after returning from an 11-month injury layoff. Now fully fit, the 34-year-old will be eyeing another marathon title to add to his first-placed finish in Berlin last September.
- Tesfaye Abera is another Ethiopian hoping to make his mark on the London Marathon this year by claiming gold. At just 25-years-old, Abera isn’t able to match some of his fellow runners in terms of experience, but the long-distance runner, who stands at a towering 6ft 4, could be one to watch out for, providing his race strategy goes as planned.
- Feyisa Lilesa secured his first Olympic medal in Rio last year, picking up silver in the marathon. Eight months on, and the 27-year-old travels to London as one of the stand out competitors ahead of Sunday’s race and will have plenty to prove after finishing just behind Mo Farah in ninth in 2014.
Following the withdrawal of reigning champion Eliud Kipchoge and injury to marathon heavyweight Stanley Biwott, this year’s event looks all set for an Ethiopian victory, especially given the nation’s strength in depth. It could well be that the landlocked African nation completes a clean sweep of the medals, a feat last achieved by rivals Kenya in 2015. Bekele, available at 6/5 with Betfred, will be determined to improve on his third place finish from 12 months ago, while fellow countrymen Abera (5/1) and Lilesa (13/2) will certainly be desperate to prove a point to their competitors.
A British runner hasn’t tasted victory in the men’s race since 1993, when Eamonn Martin secured the nation’s sixth win on home soil. Don’t expect things to change any time soon, despite a plethora of athletes from these isles taking part. Tsegai Tewelde looks to be the Brit in with the greatest chance of success, but at 125/1 it’s safe to say there will be few backing the 27-year-old.
- Sports.net Top Tip: Kenenisa Bekele to win the London Marathon 6/5
Women’s London Marathon
- Mary Keitany heads to London in search of her first title on British soil in five years. The 35-year-old Kenyan may have two gold medals and a silver to her name already, but she found the going tough last year, eventually finishing in ninth with a time of 2:28:30. However, the formidable athlete picked herself up to capture the New York City Marathon crown just seven months later and with a wealth of long distance running on her side, Keitany could prove very hard to beat.
- Florence Kiplagat fought valiantly in 2016, but was forced to settle for bronze as she finished 41 seconds behind fellow countrywoman Jemima Sumgong. Now aged 30, the Kenyan may be some way behind Mary Keitany in terms of personal achievements, but she has still been able to establish herself as one of her nation’s best long distance runners. A win in London would go nicely alongside her two consecutive golds in Chicago, but will she be able to handle the pressure in the final stages?
- Aselefech Mergia recorded her best placed finish in the London Marathon in 2010 when she came in third, only to be bumped up to first following the disqualification of Liliya Shobukhova and Inga Abitova. The 32-year-old will now be hoping to secure the title outright and land Ethiopia’s third victory in London in 15 years. Mergia remains a fine long-distance runner and she will be determined to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish.
With so many strong competitors taking to the roads of London, the field looks wide open in the women’s race. Once thing that does look certain, however, is that the title will be heading to Ethiopia or Kenya, with many of the front-runners hailing from the African nations. At 2/1, Mary Keitany is the favourite, but don’t discount Florence Kiplagat (6/1) and Aselefech Mergia (9/1) from pushing her all the way. A threat could also come from the Ethiopian trio of Mare Dibaba (9/1), Tirunesh Dibaba and 2015 champion Tigist Tufa.
British fans will have a chance to cheer on 43-year-old Jo Pavey, as the Olympian aims to become the first home-grown winner of the race since the unstoppable Paula Radcliffe in 2005. With nine of the 30 runners on show representing Great Britain, hopes of a challenge aren’t impossible, but with the likes of Alyson Dixon at 150/1 and Susan Partridge at 200/1, it looks very unlikely.
- Sports.net Top Tip: Mary Keitany to win the London Marathon 2/1
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.