Eliud Kipchoge puts London Marathon challenge to Sir Mo Farah

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Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge (left) and Great Britain’s Sir Mo Farah are the headline acts at the 2019 London Marathon (Bob Martin Photography/PA)

World record holder Eliud Kipchoge is ready to win his battle with Sir Mo Farah by running the fastest-ever London Marathon, according to his coach Patrick Sang.

Kenyan Kipchoge will go head to head with Farah on Sunday following an extraordinary build-up to this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.

Farah has been involved in a furious row with Haile Gebrselassie, which has seen the pair publicly swap accusations about events at the Ethiopian’s hotel.

The build-up to the race was further overshadowed on Friday by the announcement that Kenya’s half-marathon world record holder Abraham Kiptum had been suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit following a biological passport violation and would not compete.

Organisers – not to mention athletics itself – certainly need some positive publicity on Sunday and an event worthy of the race’s proud 38-year-history.

Whether European record holder Farah will suffer any performance impact from his feud with Gebrselassie this week remains to be seen.

But Olympic champion Kipchoge, a three-time winner in London, seems determined to lower the course record time of 2:03.05 that he set in 2015.

2019 Virgin Money London Marathon – Preview Press Conference – Day One – Tower Hotel
Olympic marathon champion Kipchoge is seeking a fourth London title (Bob Martin Photography/PA)

“Since he set the world record in Berlin last September, we’ve taken enough rest, prepared like normal,” Sang told the official London Marathon website.

“I think he’s in almost the same condition as when he came to London last year and also in Berlin.

“Of course, in London last year, the weather conditions were difficult in that it was warmer and a bit humid and, ideally, going by the weather forecast we’ve been given – a high of 13 degrees and starting at 11 – they are ideal marathon-running conditions.

“So if all goes well, he should be able to better his course record. The guy’s in good shape.

“Of course, other factors can come into play – how the race is run after the pacemakers have gone, how the weather’s behaving, all those uncontrollables – but all factors remaining constant, hopefully, it could be the first sub-2:03 in London.”

Kipchoge ran 2:01.39 in Berlin to smash Dennis Kimetto’s world record by one minute and 39 seconds, the greatest improvement since 1967.

Farah finished third behind Kipchoge 12 months ago after turning his back on the track after the 2017 World Championships to concentrate on long-distance road running.

He set a new European marathon record of 2:05.11 at Chicago in October, and the four-time Olympic champion says switching to the road has revitalised him.

“I am happy and I am enjoying it,” Farah said this week. “I am still waking up in the morning hungry and when I moved on from the track I feel like I am more hungry.

“When I turned up to the track and you are winning so many times, you get used to it. I don’t have that. I feel like I have got my mojo back.

“I am fit, I have done some great training over the last three months. I am still learning, you only learn from races, the more races you run the more you learn.

“If you run elite races sometimes you learn quicker and I learned a lot from last year and from Chicago.”

2019 Virgin Money London Marathon – Preview Press Conference – Day Two – Tower Hotel
Vivian Cheruiyot (left) and Mary Keitany (right) are the favourites for the London Marathon women’s title (Bob Martin Photography/PA)

Kenyan rivals Mary Keitany and Vivian Cheruiyot are the headline acts of a top-quality women’s field.

Keitany is aiming to match the record four London wins of Norwegian Ingrid Kristiansen, while Cheruiyot is defending the title she won in 2:18.31 last year.

“If I win on Sunday, it would be special,” Keitany said. “I have won New York four times and London three times, so I want to win on Sunday to match.”