Eliud Kipchoge, Sammy Kitwara and Geoffrey Mutai, all of Kenya, also have the potential to win. The Ethiopian challenge has been weakened due to the withdrawals of Kenenisa Bekele and Ayele Abshero. Their main hope will be world junior record holder Tsegaye Mekonnen. The top European hope is cross country legend Serhiy Lebid of Ukraine. Australia’s Commonwealth Games marathon champion Michael Shelley is also in the field.
In the women’s race, the winners of the last five editions return. with two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and two-time London Marathon champion Mary Keitany both entered which could make this a Kenyan affair also. It was a Kiplagat 1-2 last year, with Edna beating Florence. The latter improved her own half marathon world record earlier this year, but stated that this race has been her main focus. 2013 champion Priscah Jeptoo is another top Kenyan contender. Ethiopians Tirfi Tsegaye, the 2014 Tokyo and Berlin champion; and 2015 Dubai champion Aselefech Mergia will pose a strong threat to their neighbours. Mergia won the 2010 London Marathon and is a three time Dubai Marathon champion, but usually struggles in the next marathon after winning in Dubai. Ukraine’s Tetyana Gamera, who ran a national record to win the 2015 Osaka Marathon, is the leading European, she finished 7th last year. Ana Dulce Félix, Alessandra Aguilar and Elvan Abeylegesse are other Europeans to watch out for. The course records are 2:04:29 and 2:15:25, current World leads are 2:05:28 and 2:19:52. The women’s course record is also the world record, and the holder of that mark, Paula Radcliffe, will be competing in her final marathon here.
London Marathon organisers are urging runners to finish hand in hand at the finish line of the race as a way to mark the 35th anniversary of the first race, in which Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen held hands across the line to become joint winners of the men’s elite race.
Paula Radcliffe will receive the inaugural John Disley London Marathon Lifetime Achievement Award when she completes the 2015 London Marathon. The women’s world record holder won the event three times in four years between 2002 and 2005. She will be presented with the trophy by John Disley, who co-founded the event with Chris Brasher in 1981.