The three greatest distance runners of their generation will race the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon after Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele today [Sunday 21 January] confirmed he will join Sir Mo Farah and Eliud Kipchoge on the Start Line on Sunday 22 April.

The stellar trio of Bekele, Farah and Kipchoge have a combined total of eight Olympic gold medals and 12 World Championship golds between them.

Farah, 34, is the most decorated with four Olympic gold medals and six World Championship victories over 5,000m and 10,000m, while Bekele, 35, is the 5,000m (12:37:35) and 10,000m world record holder (26:17:53), the second fastest marathon runner in history (2:03:03) and the owner of three Olympic and five World Championship gold medals.

But it is Kipchoge, 33, who has the greatest marathon pedigree. The Kenyan, two-time London Marathon champion, is widely seen as the greatest marathon runner of his generation. He has run an unratified marathon time of 2:00:25 and is the reigning Olympic champion over 26.2 miles.

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the Virgin Money London Marathon, said: “This is a truly mouth-watering prospect. Sir Mo, Eliud and Kenenisa could all put forward a persuasive case for being the GOAT (the greatest of all time) and now they meet for the first time over the marathon distance at the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 22 April.”

Bekele has run the past two Virgin Money London Marathons. He finished third in 2016 (2:06:36), when he admitted he was at just 90 per cent fitness, and was then second last year (2:05:57) behind Daniel Wanjiru.

Bekele said: “I am thrilled to be returning to London for the third year in a row and would love to go one better than last year and win the race. Once again London has brought the best distance runners in the world together so I know it will not be easy.

“It will be an honour to race alongside Sir Mo Farah and Eliud Kipchoge as well as the other great athletes in the field. I have been training very hard with the aim of arriving in London in April in the best possible condition.”

The 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon is also the conclusion of the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XI which started at last year’s London Marathon and includes the major marathons of Berlin, Chicago, New York, Tokyo and Boston, as well as the 2017 World Championship marathon.

Kipchoge is currently joint top of the series standings thanks to his win in the BMW Berlin Marathon last September alongside the 2017 winner of the Virgin Money London Marathon Daniel Wanjiru, the 2017 champions of Chicago (Galen Rupp) and New York (Geoffrey Kamworor) and the world champion Geoffrey Kirui.

Bekele, who is eighth in the Series XI standings, is the first name to be announced as part of the Virgin Money London Marathon Elite Week.

Every day until Thursday [25 January] we will be announcing competitors in the elite men’s, women’s and wheelchair fields on our social media channels before concluding with a live show streamed on Facebook at 1830 GMT on Thursday 25 January where experts will discuss the 2018 line-ups.

Search for Virgin Money London Marathon on Facebook, @LondonMarathon on Twitter and Instagram to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest announcements.