After London's brilliant Olympic Games in 2012, racing returns to the capital's streets in April when the world's best runners will battle it out over 26.2 miles to become 2013 Virgin London Marathon champion.

The race will feature the best elite men's marathon field ever assembled and will include 11 men who've completed the distance in under 2:06, as well as all three medalists from the London 2012 Olympic Marathon and the winners of the 2012 Berlin, Chicago, London, Frankfurt and Dubai Marathons.

The Virgin London Marathon is delighted that Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich, the surprise winner of the London 2012 Olympic Marathon, will return to the capital to do battle with Olympic silver medalist and world champion Abel Kirui (Kenya) and Olympic bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang.

As winner of the 2012 Virgin London Marathon, Kenya's Kipsang will be out to prove he's the best in the world over the marathon distance. Kipsang missed out on the London Marathon course record by just four seconds at the race last year, when he crossed the finish line more than two minutes clear of his closest rival, fellow Kenyan Martin Lel – himself a three-time winner of the London Marathon.

Kipsang will face stiff competition in April from his countryman Patrick Makau. As the marathon world-record holder (2:03:38) and winner of the 2012 Frankfurt Marathon, Makau will return to the capital with one goal: to add the prestigious Virgin London Marathon title to his already impressive running CV.

Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai will also be out to win when he runs his first Virgin London Marathon this year. Despite failing to gain selection for the Kenyan Olympic marathon team, Mutai is considered by many to be the world's best marathon runner. His win at the 2012 BMW Berlin Marathon in September will give him the confidence to go for victory when he takes on the best marathon field ever assembled in London in April.

While Kenya look likely to dominate the top spots at the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, the Ethiopians should not be overlooked. Tsegaye Kebede, who won the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the 2010 London Marathon, could cause an upset. His countryman Ayele Abshero is also capable of spoiling the Kenyan party after running the sixth fastest marathon ever when he won the 2012 Dubai Marathon in 2:04:23.

British Olympian Scott Overall and fellow British runner Tomas Abyu are unlikely to challenge for the win, but if they beat their personal bests, they could secure a top 10 finish.

Virgin London Marathon race director Hugh Brasher said: "We're delighted to welcome all three medalists from the London 2012 Olympic Marathon to this year's Virgin London Marathon. The Olympic stars will line up alongside the world's best distance runners in what promises to be a remarkable battle between the strongest men's field ever assembled for a marathon."

In the women's race, Ethiopia's Tiki Gelana will be the one to watch after her win at the London 2012 Olympic Marathon. She also won the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon in a time of 2:18:58 – which makes her the fourth fastest woman in history behind Great Britain's Paula Radcliffe, Russia's Liliya Shobukova and Kenya's Catherine Ndereba.

The Kenyan trio of Florence Kiplagat, Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo could also challenge for the title. World champion Edna Kiplagat will be hoping to better her third-place finish at the 2012 Virgin London Marathon, while Jeptoo will be hoping to go one better than her silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Marathon. Florence Kiplagat will also be looking to build on her win at the 2011 BMW Berlin Marathon.

Gelana isn't the only Ethiopian runner who could challenge for the top spot at the 2013 Virgin London Marathon. All eyes will be on Tirunesh Dibaba – five-time world cross-country champion, London 2012 Olympic 10,000m champion and Beijing 2008 Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion – who will be making her debut at the marathon distance in London in April. The world is waiting to find out whether the Ethiopian runner's talent extends to the longer distance.          

British Olympian Freya Ross (Murray) will be hoping to improve on her 44th place at the London 2012 Olympic Marathon, while Great Britain's Helen Clitheroe, who finished first at the Great Manchester Run in 2011, will make her marathon debut at the 2013 Virgin London Marathon.


Elite MenPersonal BestPatrick Makau (Kenya)2:03:38Wilson Kipsang (Kenya)2:03:42Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya)2:04:15Ayele Abshero (Ethiopia)2:04:23Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia)2:04:38Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya)2:04:40Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia)2:04:52Stanley Biwott (Kenya)2:05:12Martin Lel (Kenya)2:05:15Deressa Chimsa (Ethiopia)2:05:42Marilson Gomes dos Santos (Brazil)2:06:34Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda)2:07:20Yared Asmeron (Eritrea)2:07:27Adil Annani (Morocco)2:07:43Marcin Chabowski (Poland)2:10:07Bunta Kuroki (Japan)2:10:08


Leading British MenPersonal BestTomas Abyu2:10:37Scott Overall2:10:55Derek Hawkins2:14:08Phil Wicks2:15:38Philip Anthony2:16:40Mathew BondDebut


Elite WomenPersonal BestTiki Gelana (Ethiopia)2:18:58Lucy Kabuu (Kenya)2:19:34Florence Kiplagat (Kenya)2:19:44Edna Kiplagat (Kenya)2:19:50Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya)2:20:14Meselech Melkamu (Ethiopia)2:21:01Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia)2:22:03Yukiko Akaba (Japan)2:24:09Remi Nakazato (Japan)2:24:28Jessica Augusto (Portugal)2:24:33Alevtina Biktimirova (Russia)2:25:12Mai Ito (Japan)2:25:26Nadia Ejjafini (Italy)2:26:15Renne Baillie (USA)2:27:17Olga Dubovskaya (Belarus)2:28:08Adriana Da Silva (Brazil)2:29:17Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia)DebutJoyce Chepkirui (Kenya)Debut


Leading British WomenPersonal BestFreya Ross (Murray)2:28:10Amy Whitehead2:33:44Susan Partridge2:34:13Helen ClitheroeDebut



Never like this year London Marathon can be considered the real World Championships.
In my long experience, I never saw a field like this, both in men and women.
Never in the pasti t was possible to put together , in the Men race, the World Record Holder (Patrick Makau), the  Olympic Champion (Stephen Kiprotich), the multiple World Champion and Olympic silver medal (Abel Kirui), the last winner and bronze Olympic medal (Wilson Kipsang) , the winners of the last two jackpots (Emmanul and Geoffrey Mutai), and other 3 athletes under 2:05, among them one of the most consistant runner of the last years (Tsegaye Kebede) and a former multiple winner of the same marathon (Martin Lel).
To do a preview is really impossibile.  With such a field, of course the organisers look for a possible WR, if the conditions will be ok.  I think the possible split at HM for the best group ever of top runners can be about  61:45, looking at the WR with a negative split coming from a fast part of the race between 25 km and 35 km.
The work of pacers can be fundamental for a new WR.  We need atlete able themselves of times about 59:00 in HM and 2:06:00 or less in full marathon, for being sure somebody can arrive till 32 km.  After that distance, I think the atlete themselves can try some solution, pushing the pace under 2:55 per km.
In this group there are atletes shpwing several times, in the past, their attitude of front runners.  We think of Geoffrey Mutai, never fearing to push at his limit (remember Boston and NY in 2011, when Geoffrey was in his best shape ever), of Wilson Kipsang (what he did last year in London was wonderful, what he did in OG was crazy…), of Patrick Mutai (a terrific 3 km between 26 km and 29 km when bettered the WR in Berlin), and in Kebede (remember his duel with the great Sammy Wanjiru, and more recently his final km. In Chicago last year.
In this group, Abel Kirui and Stephen Kiprotich can have good ciance, also if their times are not at the same level of the other runners, but their ability in big Championships is very clear.
Also about the Women race, this can be considered the best field ever. There are the Olympic Champion (Tiki Gelana), the World Champion (Edna Kiplagat), the silver Olympic medal (Prisca Jeptoo), two atlete under 2:20 like Lucy Kabuu and Florence Kiplagat, one of the fastest debutants all time who is still second in the listo of 10000m (Meselech Melkamu), and especially…. Tirunesh Dibaba.
I think this is the more interesting reason in the ladies race.  Tirunesh has the talent for a great debut, but not always the talent showed in 10000m can be quickly tranferred in a full marathon.  Tirunesh doesn't have really esperience in long distances (she ran one HM only, remaining with the leaders till the last 500m, without doing anything, looking for inning only), and, also if I wait from her a conservative tactic (following the pace of the more expert runners, waiting for the final), nobody can know how much fuel she can have in her tank after 35 km.  Athletes with a long career in short distances, at the top level, have an engine used to go with glycogen (a super petrol), and normally have to spend long time for becoming able to use the most qualified fatty acids as fuel, in order to consum less glycogen at marathon pace.
Also the results of Dubai, with Wude Ayelew (30'11") and Oljira (in the Ethiopian Olympic team for 10000m, 30'26") not in top 10 at the pace of 2:30:00, clearly show that Marathon is a World apart.
Anyway, probably the most interesting and amazing Marathon ever run, and we have to work very hard with the atlete for a matter of respect with the efforts of organisers able to put together the 90% of the top atlete in the World.