Wanjiru returns to capital eyeing World Championship gold
The world’s best marathon runners will return to the streets of the capital on Sunday (6 August) for the first time since April’s Virgin Money London Marathon as the IAAF World Championship marathons come to town.
The races are also the second qualifying event for Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XI after the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon kicked off the new series in the spring.
Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru, who stormed to a breakthrough win at this year’s London Marathon, will be bidding for more glory in the capital as he bids to become both world champion and to reinforce his position at the top of the Abbott World Marathon Majors leaderboard.
Wanjiru just held on to win the London Marathon from the fast-finishing Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) but there will be no repeat of that fascinating duel on Sunday as Bekele has withdrawn due to fitness concerns.
A strong British contingent of Callum Hawkins, Josh Griffiths and Robbie Simpson will be hoping to make impacts on the race.
Hawkins, who burst onto the international scene when he finished eighth in the 2016 London Marathon, has been preparing all year for this race while Griffiths and Simpson both got qualifying times at this year’s London Marathon.
Griffiths was the unlikely first Brit home after starting on the club runners start and finishing in 2 hours 14 minutes 49 seconds. Simpson was close behind, finishing in 2:15:04.
Hawkins, Griffiths and Simpson all received a £5,000 training grant from London Marathon Events Ltd to use to prepare for the World Championships, as did the three British female marathon runners: Alyson Dixon, Charlotte Purdue and Tracy Barlow.
Dixon, who was the first Brit home at this year’s London Marathon in 2:29:06, will be competing in her second IAAF World Championship marathon while Purdue and Barlow will be making their international marathon debuts.
Kenya’s Mary Keitany who won this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon is not coming back to the capital for the World Championships giving others the opportunity to close on her at the top of the Abbott World Marathon Majors leaderboard.
Two-time Abbott World Marathon Majors champion Edna Kiplagat, who won the 2014 London Marathon and who has won the world title on two previous occasions, will be one the favourites alongside Ethiopia’s defending champion Mare Dibaba.
The men’s marathon will get underway at 10:55, with the women’s marathon runners setting off later the same day at 14:00.
The course starts and finishes at Tower Bridge and comprises four laps of a six-mile stretch that will see competitors heading west along Victoria Embankment towards the Houses of Parliament, then back alongside the River Thames to St Paul’s Cathedral before returning via the Tower of London.
The six British marathon runners are not the only athletes in the British World Championship to have benefitted from financial support from London Marathon Events Ltd (LMEL).
One of the founding aims of LMEL was to “improve the overall standard and status of British distance running”. To assist in the aim, LMEL provides yearly funding to British Athletics to support its World Class Performance Plan and altitude training camps.
In total 31 athletes on the Great Britain team for the IAAF World Championships, which start at the Olympic Stadium on Friday <4 August> have benefitted from LMEL funding.
They are: Tracy Barlow, Tom Bosworth, Andrew Butchart, Rosie Clarke, Alyson Dixon, Mo Farah, Elliot Giles, Josh Griffiths, Callum Hawkins, Jess Judd, Josh Kerr, Dom King, Kyle Langford, Guy Learmonth, Jess Martin, Elish McColgan, Sarah McDonald, Laura Muir, Rob Mullett, Chris O’Hare, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, Beth Potter, Charlotte Purdue, Zak Seddon, Lynsey Sharp, Robbie Simpson, Adelle Tracey, Steph Twell, Laura Weightman, Jake Wightman and Callum Wilkinson.