Since the women’s elite field for the 2023 London Marathon was announced in February, many fans have circled April 23 on their calendar, as six sub-2:18 women and five current world record holders will battle it out for the prestigious London crown.
The race will feature marathon world record holder Brigid Kosgeireigning Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir and the prolific Sifan hassan, who will be making her anticipated marathon debut. 2022 London Marathon Champion Yalemzerf Yehualaw of Ethiopia also returns to London in defense of her title, only months after running 29:19 for 10K.
Can anyone stop Kosgei?
The fastest women’s marathoner in history, Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei, has five Abbott World Marathon Major titles to her name, including two wins in London in 2019 and 2020. On Sunday, the 2:14:04 woman looks to add a third London Marathon win to her spectacular resume, although she faces one of her toughest challenges in London.
Kosgei had a quiet 2022 season, only collecting one win at the 2022 Tokyo Marathon in a course record time of 2:16:02. Since her last major win dela in March 2022, she has not won in her last three starts, getting dropped by the lead group late at the RAK Half Marathon in February, where 2023 Boston Marathon champion Helen Obiri took the win in 1:05:05.
Luckily for Kosgei, she will not have to face Obiri in London, but she will go up against the woman who beat her for Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020, her compatriot Peres Jepchirchir. Jepchirchir hasn’t lost a marathon since 2015 and has collected wins at NYC, Boston and Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first woman to pull off the triple in one calendar year. Although Jepchirchir’s best of 2:17:16 is nothing near Kosgei’s 2:14, she is considered one of the best tactical racers in the world and has shown off her late kick in her last three marathon victories.
At Friday’s press conference, Jepchirchir told the media that the London Marathon has always been her dream race to win. She has already won two of the toughest majors and will look for her third Sunday morning.
In terms of speed and experience, Yehualaw is an athlete that can be unpredictable and cause trouble for Kosgei. Yehualaw has won six of her dela last seven races and her dela last two marathons in London and Hamburg (both in 2022). As we saw in Boston with Evans Chebetit is hard to bet against the reigning champion.
The best of the rest
Sifan Hassan is apparently just like the rest of us. She said in Friday’s press conference that she does not know what to expect. “I am excited but at the same time nervous,” she told reporters. “I always wake up and ask myself why did I decide to run a marathon.” The two-time Olympic and world champion says she did not change much in her training, and she does not have a time goal in mind. “The marathon is a different distance for me, I don’t know what to expect, but I want to try it,” said Hassan.
The 30-year-old Dutch distance runner plans on returning to the track after the London Marathon to qualify for the 2023 World Championships in the 5,000 and 10,000m.
Two others to watch are the Ethiopian duo of Almaz Ayana and Genzebe Dibaba, who both made their marathon debuts at the 2022 TCS Amsterdam Marathon last October. The duo finished first and second, with Ayana’s time of 2:17:20 being the fastest women’s marathon debut in history. The 1,500m world record holder, Dibaba, was second in 2:18:05.
Also returning from the 2022 London Marathon are the third-place finisher Alemu Megertu of Ethiopia, and Judith Jeptum Korir, who fourth finished. Jeptum Korir earned her first major championship medal in Eugene last summer, winning silver behind Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebrselase in the marathon.
British half marathon record holder and 2022 Commonwealth Games champion Eilish McColgan was also prone to make her long-awaited marathon debut but had to drop out on Thursday due to knee soreness. canadian record holder Natasha Wodak was the lone Canadian in the women’s elite field but announced earlier this week that she will not make the trip to London.
Wodak and McColgan join the long list of scratches, which include the fifth fastest in history, 2022 Berlin champion Tigist Assefa, debutant Girmawit Gebrzihair, and the American duo Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.
Canadian Running’s pick: Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) goes back-to-back at the London Marathon in 2:16-high.
How to watch
If you have a subscription to FloTrack, you can follow Sunday’s marathon coverage starting at 3:30 am ET The elite women will start at 9 am local time, while the elite men will go off at 9:40 am