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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Mo Farah has his work cut out on return to the roads at London Marathon

Big two Kipchoge and Bekele could be involved in titanic tussle

Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia won the Berlin Marathon in 2016
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BBC2, from 8.30am Sunday

With four Olympic golds and six world championship titles on the track, Sir Mo Farah is unquestionably Britain’s most decorated distance runner of all time.

Farah brought the curtain down on his glittering track career at last year’s worlds in his hometown of London and it is on the capital’s streets that he begins a new chapter at the marathon distance.

He has attempted to conquer London’s roads before in 2014 when he finished eighth in a time of 2hrs 8mins 21secs on his first try at 26.2 miles but any notion of a road career was put on hold - a wise move given he claimed double gold at the Rio Olympics and three world titles in that time.

But now with his time on the track definitely at an end, Farah takes the well-worn path from stadium to streets, although he could hardly have picked a harder starting point.

The London Marathon organisers have amassed a field stacked with quality. Indeed Farah’s marathon PB ranks him in only 12th place of the elite men’s field who will take to the start line in Blackheath.

Farah has said himself that given the quality of the field he won’t be surprised if the world record is broken on Sunday and one man aiming to do just that is hot favourite Eliud Kipchoge.

Kipchoge, who narrowly missed out on breaking the magical two-hour mark in a controlled test last year, has a near unblemished marathon record, winning seven of his eight attempts at the distance and finishing second in the other.

The Kenyan broke the course record when winning in 2016 and is undoubtedly the best marathon runner in the world. However, at 8-15 he is hardly a betting proposition.

Last year’s winner Daniel Wanjiru is a 12-1 chance but his winning time of 2:05:48 was the second slowest in the last ten years and while only 25, he has yet to break 2:05 which he will probably need to surpass to replicate his victory.

One man who has run significantly quicker than that is Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele.

Bekele is the second-fastest man of all time at the distance and on balance the best option to take Kipchoge on with.

The duo had some great battles during their track careers and while Kipchoge has had the better of the Ethiopian on the road, Bekele is on paper the only man in the field capable of running fast enough to test the favourite if he is at his best.

Bekele was second to Wanjiru last year and at 6-1 is certainly an each-way player.

In the women's elite race, Mary Keitany is aiming for a fourth win in London after breaking the women's-only world record in victory last year.

Keitany has won seven of the ten marathons she has entered and finished on the podium a further two times but she looks to have serious competition in this year's race as track great Tirunesh Dibaba continues her transition to the road after finishing second on her debut in 2017. 

As in the men's race a titanic tussle between Kenya and Ethiopia could be on the cards.

Recommendation
K Bekele to win men's race
1pt each-way 6-1 Sky Bet


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Farah’s marathon PB ranks him in only 12th place of the elite men’s field who will take to the start line
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