Tamirat Tola aims to follow New York success with victory in London Marathon

By Sports Desk April 20, 2024

Tamirat Tola feels a carefully planned build-up will give him every chance of adding the London Marathon title to his success in New York.

The 32-year-old Ethiopian – world champion from 2022 in Oregon – clocked a new course record of two hours, four minutes and 58 seconds when he won in Manhattan during November last year.

Tola hopes his meticulous preparations will allow him to again hit top form as he aims to be the first over the finish line on the Mall on Sunday afternoon, having come third last year.

“(Winning in) London is not easy, but I worked hard to win New York and my training has all been OK since then, so I am ready,” said Tola, who also took the 2023 Great North Run title.

“Everything is good with what my coaches have prepared for me to win, so we can hope for a good result on Sunday.”

The late Kelvin Kiptum, who was killed in a car accident in February at the age of 24, set a new London Marathon record with victory last year.

While that mark of 2hrs 1min and 25secs is unlikely to be tested on Sunday, Tola is still confident of a swift pace.

“If we go together to help each other, then we will run with a better time,” Tola said.

“It depends on a pacemaker, but it is OK for me to go fast, and if it is a normal (pace) then that is also OK for me.”

Emile Cairess will lead Britain’s hopes in the elite men’s race, having finished sixth on his debut last year.

Cairess is aiming to better the Olympic qualifying mark to join training partner Phil Sesemann in the Team GB squad for Paris.

 

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The 26-year-old, though, also has one eye on a long-term target of breaking Sir Mo Farah’s six-year-old British marathon record, which was set in Chicago.

“I have a time in my head. I will be trying to run maybe about three-minute kilometres,” Cairess said.

“Mo’s British record is something I definitely want to beat in the near future, but I am not looking at that this weekend.”

Scottish marathon record-holder Callum Hawkins will make his return in London following a number of injury setbacks, which included ankle surgery after the Tokyo Olympics.

Marc Scott, winner of the Great North Run in 2021, is set for a marathon debut, along with Mahamed Mahamed.

In the elite women’s race, world record holder Tigst Assefa hopes to produce a new women’s-only best time.

“I was very happy in breaking the world record. Also I got a lot of praise and encouragement from people around me afterwards, that was very important for me,” said Assefa, who will compete in her first London Marathon.

“My training has gone really well and I have done all the training that has been set by my coach. I feel I am ready for the race on Sunday.”

British athletes Becky Briggs and Alice Wright will also be in the elite field, along with Anya Culling, Rachel Hodgkinson, Helen Gaunt, Mhairi Maclennan and Lucy Reid.

David Weir will make his 25th consecutive London Marathon appearance, which he last won in 2018, with Switzerland’s Marcel Hug again the man to beat in the elite men’s wheelchair race.

Weir, 44, changed to a carbon fibre chair this winter, and finished third at the Boston Marathon on April 15.

“Hopefully I can get another one (London Marathon victory). Maybe not on Sunday, we will see,” he said. “It depends on that machine down there to be honest.”

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