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The 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon will likely be the most competitive race in London’s history. Both the men’s and women’s fields feature several of the world’s very best marathon runners, as well as two upstarts who possess the potential to win under the right circumstances. The men’s field include, world record holder Wilson Kipsang – a Kenyan who has run as fast as 2:03:23, the Olympic and world champion Stephen Kiprotich also from Kenya, the reigning London champion Ethiopian, Tsegaye Kebede and the course record holder Kenyan, Emmanuel Mutai. Mutai set his personal best of 2:04:40 at the 2011 running of the event. Great Britain’s Mo Farah, the double Olympic gold medallist from the 2012 games, where he won both the 5,000 metre and 10,000 metre events, will debut.

The men’s field is covered at length here.

The women’s field also boasts a rich collection of world-class competitors. Priscah Jeptoo will be an interesting athlete to watch as she has won marathons in New York, Paris, Turin, and London and owns a personal best time of 2:20:14. She has also finished second in the 2012 London Olympic Games and 2011 IAAF World Track and Field Championships that took place in Daegu, Korea. She faces three other women who have run faster than her. Like the men’s field, the women’s also features a threat from a first time marathon runner, in Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia.

Dibaba has won three Olympic gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 metre events, at the Beijing and London Games. She has also won five gold medals during the IAAF World Track and Field Championships. She is a very strong cross-country runner, having won five gold and three silver medals at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships. Her personal bests over 5,000 metres is 14:11.15, which is a world record. Her best in the 10,000 metres is 29:54.66. She also owns the world record for 15k on the roads. Her half-marathon best is 1:06:55 – all pointing towards a low-2:20-to-sub-2:20 marathon performance.

Prognostication of a debut marathon is dubious because the distance offers up challenges that do not come up in the shorter distances and less than ideal weather is commonplace. England’s Paula Radcliffe currently owns the three world’s fastest marathon times. Below are comparisons between Radcliffe and Dibaba over the shorter distances, as well as the Jack Daniel’s VDOT and the IAAF points table  projections on Dibaba’s marathon potential. Note how Dibada’s best drop in value, as the event lengthens, where the opposite is true for Radcliffe. This isn’t an accurate picture of her longer event comparisons as her half-marathon and 15k times are both from road performances where the 5,000 and 10,000 metre events are on the faster track environment. She ran fewer of the half-marathons and 15k road races than the 5,000 metre and 10,000 metre events; therefore increasing her capability and the odds of achieving a higher standard at the two shorter distances. Both Dibaba and Radcliffe are world beaters over cross-country.

Distance Time IAAF Points IAAF Projection VDOT Projection
5000m 14:11.2 1260 2:17:07 2:16:29
10000m 29:54.7 1253 2:18:08 2:18:05
15k – Road 0:46:28 1241 2:19:17 2:19:44
21.1k – Road 1:06:55 1222 2:21:08 2:19:55
Radcliffe Difference
5000m 14:29.1  + :17.9
10000m 30:01.1  + :6.4
15k – Road 46:41:00  + :13
21.1k – Road 1:05:40  – 1:15
42.195 2:15:25

Women’s Elite Field
Priscah Jeptoo (KEN) 2:20:14 2013 London Marathon champion
Tiki Gelana (ETH) 2:18:58 2012 Olympic marathon champion
Florence Kiplagat (KEN) 2:19:44 2013 Berlin Marathon champion
Edna Kiplagat (KEN) 2:19:50 2011 & 2013 World marathon champion
Aberu Kebede (ETH) 2:20:30 2013 Tokyo Marathon champion
Feysa Tadesse (ETH) 2:21:06 2013 Paris Marathon champion
Tetyana Hamera-Shmyrko (UKR) 2:23:58 2013 Osaka Marathon champion
Jéssica Augusto (POR) 2:24:33 2011 London Marathon
Kim Smith (NZL) 2:25:21 2010 London Marathon
Ana Dulce Félix (POR) 2:25:40 2011 New York City Marathon
Nadia Ejjafini (ITA) 2:26:15
Diane Nukuri-Johnson (BDI) 2:29:54 2013 Boston Marathon
Amy Whitehead (GBR) 2:33:44 2012 London Marathon
Emma Stepto (GBR) 2:35:05 2013 Amsterdam Marathon
Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) Debut
Gemma Steel (GBR) Debut
Lyudmila Konavalenko (UKR) Debut

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