Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge will return to the London Marathon in 2018 after a year’s absence, resuming his quest for a third victory in the event, organisers said on Thursday.
The Kenyan was just eight seconds off the world record of 2:02:57 when retaining his title in 2016 and he clocked 2:04:42 when winning the year before.
“The Virgin Money London Marathon is a race that holds very special memories for me. I won it in 2015 and 2016 and both are days that I will never forget,” said Kipchoge, who went on to win the Olympic marathon title in Rio before becoming the fastest marathoner in history with 2:00:25 clocked in Monza during a Breaking2 attempt that cannot be ratified for record purposes.
“I came so close to breaking the world record in 2016 and it is natural for anyone in that situation to think of what might have been. But that race gave me the confidence to go on and win the Olympic title in Rio and run so well throughout 2017.”
Kipchoge joins fellow Olympic champion Mo Farah of Britain in confirming his intention to run the London Marathon on April 22.
The elite race co-ordinator, Dave Bedford, said he would never arrange the race to help Farah and that bringing to London the Olympic champion, whom he called “the greatest marathon runner in the history of our sport”, proved it.
“No one can ever accuse me of trying to fix a race to make it easier for anyone,” said Bedford. “Athletes do truly say that winning the London Marathon is harder than winning the Olympic Games and when you see the further contestants we have over the coming weeks you will agree with that.
“It will really underline the fact that while I am charge of the elite field at the London Marathon no one will ever get an easy time of it and that doesn’t matter whether they are British or the Olympic champion.”
Kipchoge, who won four global medals over 5000m on the track including world gold in 2003, said: “It does take time to make that switch but I’m sure Mo will be successful. It’s great he will be racing the London Marathon next year because I’m sure that will make the atmosphere even more special.”
Kipchoge, who was the 5,000m world champion at 18 and also won Olympic medals on the track before moving up to the marathon, told Farah that he also had to be prepared to suffer. “When I was on the track the training was very little but intensive. When I really made my transition to marathon I got a big surprise for you have go for a long run and then you have to go for huge track workouts.”
In May, Kipchoge ran an astonishing 2:00.25 for the marathon as part of the Nike Sub2 project, which did not count as an official world record as it featured pacemakers that dipped in and out of the race. He said there were no plans to try again in an attempt to become the first person to go under two hours. “But I hope in the future it will be really possible,” he said.