The world best distance runners will take to the track in 10k on Saturday night and the marathoners will battle for the grand prize at the IAAF World Championships, which officially opened yesterday in London.
Out of the 107 athletes from 54 nations, those likely to be spearheading the charge to the top of the podium in the men’s field is a strong East African cohort, led by Ethiopia’s world number two Tamrat Tola and Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru and Gideon Kipketer, ranked third and fourth in the world this year.
Tamrat Tola is a long distance runner who mostly competes in cross-country running. He was a team medalist for Ethiopia at the 2015 IAAF Half World Cross-Country Champions and 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, having claimed top six finishes.
Tamrat is the challenging Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru in the race. Both athletes were performing well this season. At the 2017 Dubai marathon, Tamrat finished clocking 2:04:10. Meanwhile, Wanjiru won both the 2016 Amsterdam Marathon and the 2017 London Marathon. His personal best is 2:05:21, set in Amsterdam in 2016.
Anticipated to be attended by thousands, and following 26.2 miles along the banks of the River Thames and zig-zagging through some of the finest landmarks of London such as the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s Cathedral, the free-to-spectate races – beginning at 10:55 for men and 14:00 for women – will meet their conclusion back at Tower Bridge, where the victorious medal winners will then be presented with their medals in front of the Tower of London.
With 46 nations are set to take part in the women’s race, Kenya’s two-time marathon world champion Edna Kiplagat and 2017’s leading Ethiopian Birhane Dibaba head up the estimated 95-strong women’s race – significantly higher than the average entry figure of 63 from the previous three editions.
Ethiopian will be represented by Birhane Dibaba, Shure Demessie, Aselefech Merga and Mare Dibaba. At the 2014 Tokyo Marathon, Birhane Dibaba ran a personal best time of 2:22:30 hours for second place, behind Ethiopian mate Tirfi Tsegaye. At the 2015 Tokyo Marathon, Birhane ran a time of 2:23:25 hours for first place. This race will also open a new opportunity to register her name in the history books.
Alongside individual athletes, the number of nations represented in this year’s women’s race has also grown to 46.
Elsewhere, in the 10k final race three-time Olympic gold medalist, Tirunesh Dibaba, and 10k world record holder, Almaz Ayana, will lead the Ethiopian team.
Almaz Ayana, who broke the 10k world record at Rio, will represent the Ethiopian team at the London championship.
Meanwhile, Saturday night will be Tirunesh’s last 10k competition at the IAAF World Championships. Tirunesh won five gold medals, three from 10k and two in 5k. If she wins today’s race it will be her fourth gold in world athletics championships.