London Marathon

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Boston, London Marathons rescheduled due to coronavirus

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The Boston Marathon has been postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14 due to the coronavirus. Three hours later, London Marathon organizers announced their race was moved from April 26 to Oct. 4.

“It’s an expectation and a hope right now is that this date will get us to a safer place in relation to the spread of the coronavirus,” Boston mayor Marty Walsh said, while discouraging anyone from trying to run the course on April 20. “It’s a date that the BAA [Boston Athletic Association] can make work for their runners.

“We want to make sure that we keep people safe.”

Walsh said there was no discussion of holding the Boston Marathon on the original date without spectators, but there were talks of possibly holding the race with a limited number of runners before the decision to instead postpone.

“That’s not the Boston Marathon,” he said. “We’re an inclusive marathon.”

It’s one of the most significant alterations to the world’s oldest annual marathon, which has been contested for 123 straight years. In 1918, the last year of World War I, the marathon was still held on Patriots’ Day but as a 10-man military relay race.

The original 2020 Boston elite fields included two-time U.S. Olympian Des Linden, the 2018 Boston winner who was fourth at the Feb. 29 Olympic Trials, where the top three earned Olympic spots. Linden has not announced whether she will remain in the field for the rescheduled Boston Marathon.

London is the world’s other major spring marathon. Its fields for the originally scheduled April race were headlined by the two fastest men in history — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele.

“The world is in an unprecedented situation grappling with a global pandemic of COVID-19, and public health is everyone’s priority,” London Marathon director Hugh Brasher said in a statement.

Many global half marathons and marathons have been canceled due to the coronavirus. On March 1, the Tokyo Marathon (a World Marathon Major like Boston and London) was restricted to elite runners without the usual mass-participation race.

The new Boston Marathon date is 13 days before the Berlin Marathon, another World Marathon Major. Sept. 14 will be treated as a local holiday like the usual April date, Walsh said.

“You have a chance to run an historic, once-in-a-lifetime race in September, and I hope that all the runners and people embrace it,” Walsh said. “We’ve shown before that no matter what the challenge is to our marathon and to our city, we are Boston strong. And that’s what we will be again this year in the face of this crisis.”

The fall major marathon schedule

Boston — Sept. 14
Berlin — Sept. 27
London — Oct. 4
Chicago — Oct. 11
New York City — Nov. 1

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results

Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele set London Marathon duel of fastest men in history

Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele
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Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele will go head-to-head at the London Marathon on April 26, marking the first time in five years that the world’s top two ranked marathoners will toe the start line in the same 26.2-mile race.

The Kenyan Kipchoge, who set the world record of 2:01:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon, and the Ethiopian Bekele, who clocked 2:01:41 in Berlin last September, are the only men to ever break 2:02 in a marathon. Kipchoge also clocked 1:59:40 at a non-record-eligible event in Vienna on Oct. 12 instead of racing a fall marathon.

Bekele’s addition to the London field was announced Thursday night, a month after Kipchoge was confirmed. It also includes the third- and fourth-fastest men in history — Ethiopians Birhanu Legese and Mosinet Geremew.

“I am looking forward to racing against Eliud once again,” Bekele said in a press release. “We have had many great battles over the years on the track, roads and cross-country. He is a special athlete who proved that again with his magnificent achievements last year.”

Kipchoge has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team. Bekele, the more accomplished track athlete with Olympic golds and world records at 5000m and 10,000m, has been a roller-coaster road runner.

Bekele owns two of the seven fastest marathons in history, recorded three years apart in Berlin. In between, he failed to finish two marathons and, in his last London start in 2018, clocked a pedestrian 2:08:53 for sixth place.

That was more than four minutes behind Kipchoge, who is undefeated in four London starts and has beaten by Bekele by at least 100 seconds in all four of their head-to-head marathons.

“I feel like my win in Berlin proved that I am still capable of winning the biggest races in the world and in world-class times,” Bekele said. “I am really looking forward to what I can do in London.”

London could be a preview of the Tokyo Olympics. Kipchoge is expected to headline the Kenyan team that may be named before the spring marathon season. Bekele was controversially left off Ethiopia’s team four years ago.

The London Marathon has historically been the world’s second-fastest record-eligible marathon behind Berlin. Kipchoge owns the course record of 2:02:37.

The last time the world’s top-ranked marathoners (on record-eligible courses) entered the same 26.2-mile race the 2015 London Marathon, pitting then-world-record holder Dennis Kimetto against Emmanuel Mutai. Kipchoge won.

The last time the world’s top-ranked marathoners (on any course) entered the same 26.2-mile race was the 2009 Berlin Marathon, pitting then-world-record holder Haile Gebrselassie against Duncan Kibet. Gebrselassie won.

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Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

MORE: Eliud Kipchoge opines on shoe technology debate

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