Brigid Kosgei will return to the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2021

• World record holder Kosgei targeting third consecutive victory
• Kitata and all of the men’s 2020 podium finishers coming back
• Eight sub-2:20 women and eight sub-2:05 men headline elite fields
Reigning champions Brigid Kosgei (KEN) and Shura Kitata (ETH) will defend their titles at the 2021 Virgin Monday London Marathon on Sunday 3 October.

Women’s world record holder and new Olympic silver medallist Kosgei will be attempting to win her third successive Virgin Money London Marathon after victories in 2019 and at the elite-only race last year.

The Kenyan, racing again just eight weeks after the very testing conditions of the Olympic Games marathon in Sapporo, will be challenged by a star-studded list of women including reigning TCS New York City Marathon champion Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN) and six other women who have run under two hours and 20 minutes.

Kosgei, whose world record 2:14:04 was set at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2019, said: “It is a great feeling to be coming back, as London is one of my favourite marathons. Last year’s win was very special, particularly given what the whole world was going through – it was fantastic just to have the London Marathon organised and even more so to be the winner. I hope to arrive again in very good shape and win for the third time.”

Jepkosgei set a new personal best (PB) of 2:18:40 last December at the Valencia Marathon, where she finished second to new Olympic champion Peres Chepchirchir (KEN).

Also in the elite women’s field are Ethiopians Roza Dereje (ETH), whose PB of 2:18:30 makes her the tenth-fastest female marathoner of all time, and Birhane Dibaba (PB 2:18:35), who won the Tokyo Marathon in 2018 and 2015 and finished second in the same race on three other occasions (2020, 2017 and 2014).

The other women to have run inside 2:20 are Valary Jemeli (KEN, 2:19:10), Zeineba Yimer (ETH, 2:19:28) and Tigist Girma (ETH, 2:19:50). Also returning is Sinead Diver (AUS), who has had two top 10 Virgin Money London Marathon finishes in the past two years and was tenth at the Tokyo Olympics.

In the men’s race Kitata – who pulled out of the Olympic Games marathon last weekend after suffering in the hot and humid conditions in Sapporo – will line up with the other men who joined him on the podium in 2020: Vincent Kipchumba (KEN) and Sisay Lemma (ETH), another who struggled in the heat of the Olympic Games marathon,

Also on the Start Line will be Evans Chebet (KEN), the current Valencia Marathon champion and fastest man in the world last year with his time of 2:03:00, and the two-time Tokyo Marathon champion Birhanu Legese (ETH), who is the third-fastest marathoner of all time (2:02:48).

Ethiopians Mosinet Geremew (PB 2:02:55) and Mule Wasihun (PB 2:03:16), who both finished on the podium at the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon, also return.

Kitata said: “I was disappointed to have to pull out of the Olympic Games marathon but I just did not adapt to the weather well. It was very cold in Ethiopia prior to leaving for Tokyo and when we got there the weather took its toll on my body and made my breathing very hard. But I’m healthy and looking forward to racing in the Virgin Money London Marathon again. I am preparing very well and my coach has me very ready to defend my title in London.

“Winning last year was an unforgettable memory and it gave me huge excitement to bring back such a big victory to my country and to make my family and coaches proud. I have set my mind on how I can run fast and better than last year and I’m looking forward to seeing if I can repeat the victory and make history in the race.”

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the Virgin Money London Marathon, said: “We are delighted to welcome our reigning champions back to defend their titles at the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon and, as always, they will be challenged by a stellar field of the world’s best marathon runners. Sunday 3 October is set to be an extraordinary day in our history as these great athletes lead the way as thousands of mass runners take on their 26.2 mile challenge from Greenwich to Westminster and around the world in the virtual event.”

The 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon returns to its traditional and iconic course from Blackheath to The Mall after last year’s elite-only race on a multiple closed-loop circuit around St James’s Park. Up to 50,000 runners are expected in the mass race and up to 50,000 around the world will take on the virtual event, completing the 26.2 miles on the route of their choice any time between 00:00 and 23:59:59 BST on Sunday 3 October.

It will form part of a thrilling climax to the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XIII, with all of major marathons – Berlin, London, Chicago, Boston, Tokyo and New York – taking place over a six-week period. The Series started at the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and will finish at the TCS New York City Marathon in November. In the women’s standings Kosgei is a clear leader, sitting 25 points of compatriot and Virgin Money London Marathon rival Jepkosgei. While in the men’s standings, Kitata is currently in second place with Legese in joint fourth place. For the full Series XIII leaderboards, click here.

Tomorrow the Virgin Money London Marathon will announce the men’s and women’s wheelchair fields and on Saturday the British line-ups in the elite races.

Elite men
Name Country PB
Birhanu LEGESE ETH 2:02:48
Mosinet GEREMEW ETH 2:02:55
Titus EKIRU KEN 2:02:57
Evans CHEBET KEN 2:03:00
Mule WASIHUN ETH 2:03:16
Sisay LEMMA ETH 2:03:36
Kinde ATANAW ETH 2:03:51
Shura KITATA ETH 2:04:49
Vincent KIPCHUMBA KEN 2:05:09
Tristan WOODFINE CAN 2:10:51

Elite Women
Name Country PB
Brigid KOSGEI KEN 2:14:04 WR
Roza DEREJE ETH 2:18:30
Birhane DIBABA ETH 2:18:35
Joyciline JEPKOSGEI KEN 2:18:40
Valary JEMELI KEN 2:19:10
Degitu AZIMERAW ETH 2:19:26
Zeineba YIMER ETH 2:19:28
Tigist GIRMA ETH 2:19:52
Ashete BEKERE ETH 2:20:14
Alemu MEGERTU ETH 2:21:10
Sinead DIVER AUS 2:24:11
Allie KIEFFER USA 2:28:12
Moira STEWARTOVA CZE 2:29:28

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