LONDON, January 8- Marathon world record holder Dennis Kimetto will race for the first time over the classic distance against the man whose name he removed from the record books, compatriot Wilson Kipsang, at the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon on April 26.
Kimetto became the first man to run the marathon in under 2:03 when he clocked 2:02:57 in the Berlin Marathon last September to take 26 seconds off the record Kipsang, the 2014 London Marathon champion, set in the same race the previous year.
“I broke Wilson’s world record in Berlin last year and now I want his London Marathon crown,” said Kimetto. “I am relishing the chance to face my friend over the famous course. I know it won’t be easy but I am confident I can go the distance, whatever he throws at me.”
Kimetto and Kipsang train together in Iten in the Great Rift Valley, but have never raced in a marathon together.
Kipsang is looking to become only the fourth man to win the London Marathon three times.
“I would love to join the London Marathon legends by winning a third title. London always has the best fields but with Dennis in the line-up this year it promises to be a bruising battle. I certainly won’t give up my title without a fight, but let’s see who has the knock-out blow,” commented Kipsang.
Kimetto and Kipsang will also take on Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele. The 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder and three-time Olympic champion, will make his London Marathon debut. The London race will be his fourth marathon.
Bekele has a best of 2:05:04, set when winning in Paris last year, but that ranks him only the ninth fastest on the list of entrants; and just the third fastest Ethiopian behind 2012 Dubai Marathon champion Ayele Abshero and Tsegaye Mekonnen, who became the fastest junior ever when he won the Dubai Marathon last January.
Kipsang and Kimetto are also joined by four other strong Kenyans, including 2011 London champion Emmanuel Mutai, who ran the second quickest time ever when finishing as the runner-up to Kimetto in Berlin last year; Eliud Kipchoge, who won the 2014 Chicago Marathon last October; and Sammy Kitwara, who was second in Chicago and third in Tokyo last year.
Last year’s runner-up Stanley Biwott, another sub-2:05 man, returns to the London Marathon seeking to go one better in 2015 while Ethiopia’s former Rotterdam Marathon champion, Tilahun Regassa, has a best of 2:05:27.