Emmanuel Mutai Leads London Marathon Charge

Emmanuel Mutai breaks the tape at the London Marathon in a course record 2:04:40. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Course-record holder returns to defend his crown.

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Emmanuel Mutai breaks the tape at the London Marathon in a course record 2:04:40. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Reigning World Marathon Majors men’s champion Emmanuel Mutai will defend his Virgin London Marathon title on Sunday, April 22, race director Dave Bedford announced today. Mutai will be just one of six exceptional Kenyan men who will compete in the race, all of whom hope to solidify their place on their country’s Olympic team.

Mutai –who is not related to the Boston and ING New York City Marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai– scored a magnificent victory at London last year, smashing the course record by 30 seconds and clocking 2:04:40, a personal best. He won by 65 seconds, an astonishing gap for such a high level race.

“My aim was just to win,” Mutai told Race Results Weekly last year after his victory. “But when I passed 30-K I saw we were on 2:05 pace and I tried to push it because my best was 2:06:15.”

Behind Mutai, Kenyan compatriots Martin Lel and Patrick Makau sprinted for second place, with Lel finishing just half a stride up on Makau, who would later set the world record of 2:03:38 at the BMW Berlin Marathon last September. Both men will return to London to compete again this year, Bedford said.

The three other Kenyans slated to compete are BMW Frankfurt Marathon champion Wilson Kipsang, reigning and two-time world champion Abel Kirui, and the 2011 IAAF World Championships marathon silver medalist Vincent Kipruto.

“Last year was an amazing one for Kenyan marathon runners around the world and we are delighted to welcome this hugely talented half dozen to London for the 2012 men’s race,” Bedford said through a prepared statement.

In addition to the Kenyan squad who will run in London, Bedford also announced 11 other Africans who are all capable of winning the race. The cream of that crop are Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede and Feyisa Lilesa, both of whom have world championships bronze medals; Morocco’s Jaouad Gharib, twice the world marathon champion and an Olympic silver medalist; and Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, the world record holder for the half-marathon.

Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil, twice the ING New York City Marathon champion, is the lone elite men’s entrant from the Americas.

Finally, 11 British men were named, each of whom has a chance to make their Olympic team by being the first Briton over the finish line under 2:12:00. The best men Bedford named from that group are Lee Merrien (2:14:27 PB) and Ben Whitby (2:15:09).

The Virgin London Marathon is part of the World Marathon Majors, the top series of marathon races in the world, which includes the Boston, Virgin London, BMW Berlin, Bank of America Chicago, and ING New York City Marathons. In 2012, the Olympic Games marathon is also part of the series in which athletes earn points over a two-year period with the hope of winning the USD 500,000 prize.

2012 Virgin London Marathon Elite Men’s Field (with personal best times)

Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) 2:04:40

Patrick Makau (Kenya) 2:03:38

Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) 2:03:42

Abel Kirui (Kenya) 2:05:04

Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) 2:05:13

Martin Lel (Kenya) 2:05:15

Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) 2:05:18

Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) 2:05:23

Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) 2:05:25

Jaouad Gharib (Morocco) 2:05:27

Marilson Gomes dos Santos (Brazil) 2:06:34

Markos Geneti (Ethiopia) 2:06:35

Yared Asmerson (Eritrea) 2:07:27

Samuel Tsegay (Eritrea) 2:07:28

Abreham Cherkos (Ethiopia) 2:07:29

Abderrahim Bouramdane (Morocco) 2:07:33

Adil Annani (Morocco) 2:10:15

Scott Westcott (Australia) 2:11:36

Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) 2:12:03

Martin Dent (Australia) 2:12:23

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