The London Marathon, one of the six “majors”, celebrates its 42nd edition this Sunday with more than 50,000 runners through the streets of the British capital and with the Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second fastest athlete in history in the distance, as the main favourite.
Bekele, who accredits 2h01:41 as the personal best in Berlin (Germany), in 2019, hopes at 40 years old to win in London although he does not arrive at the event in the best conditions, according to Jos Hermens, his agent, who said this week revealed that the Ethiopian was “a little sick” last week.
The victory can be cleared up for Bekele after the loss, this week, of the British Mo Farah, who an injury to his right hip will prevent him from running a marathon again almost three years later.
Due to a last-minute hamstring injury, the world record holder, Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, will not be in the women’s category, so the victory could be between her compatriot, the current champion Joyciline Jepkosgei, and the Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who achieved the fastest ever debut by a woman this year in Hamburg with 2:17:23.
The elite athletes will be part of a list of 50,097 runners (59% men and 41% women) who have a race number for this edition. Of all of them, 75% are British and 25% are foreigners, the oldest being the Japanese Koichi Kitabatake, 89 years old, and the youngest the Englishman Alex Horsley, who will turn 18 on the day of the race.
The first London marathon was held on March 29, 1981 with just over six thousand runners, promoted by the Olympic steeplechase medalists Chris Brasher and John Disley, who, after running in New York, decided to organize a similar race in the British capital. .
That first edition had two male winners crossing the finish line with the same time of 2h11:48, the American Dick Beardsley and the Norwegian Inge Simonsen, while in the female category the British Joyce Smith won alone, who won with 2h29:57. .
The London Marathon will always be linked to the figure of the British runner Paula Radcliffe, winner three times, one of them on April 13, 2003, with a world record (2h15:25). That mark was in her possession until 2019, when Kenyan Brigid Kosgei ran in 2:14:04 at the Chicago Marathon.
What Paula Radcliffe does hold is the London Marathon record, while the Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, with his victory in 2019 with 2:02:37, is still the rival to beat.
The only Spaniard who has achieved victory is Abel Antón, from Soriano, who won in 1998 with a time of 2:07:57.
From 1981 to 1987 it was played alternately between the months of April and May and since then, 1988, it was always played in April. This is the third consecutive time that the race has been held in October and, for the moment, the last, since in 2023 it will return to its usual date on April 23.
The London Marathon is one of the ‘six majors’, the six best marathons in the world, along with Boston, Chicago, New York, Tokyo and Berlin.
The race, with three starting points that converge before five kilometers, runs around the River Thames, has a flat and fast profile and passes through some of the most emblematic points of the city such as Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben or Buckingham Palace. The finish line is located at The Mall next to Saint James’s Palace.