LONDON (Reuters) - London Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat will face two former winners and the fastest half-marathon runner ever - all four of them Kenyans - in this year’s race, organizers said on Wednesday.
Double world marathon champion Kiplagat beat half-marathon world record holder Florence Kiplagat by three seconds in the closest women’s London Marathon for 17 years in 2014.
Pushing them all the way this year will be 2013 champion Priscah Jeptoo and Mary Keitany, winner in 2011 and 2012.
The field contains 10 women who have sub-two hour, 25 minute times to their name.
“Winning my first London Marathon title on my fourth attempt last year was a special moment for me,” said Edna Kiplagat, 35, who was third on her London debut in 2011 and has twice been runner-up.
“Now I have tasted success in London, I am determined to win again. But I know it will be tougher than ever in 2015.
“Florence will be hungry to win after getting so close last year, and both Priscah and Mary will be doing their best to regain the number one spot.
Keitany made an impressive return last year when she won the New York City Marathon in November after taking a year out in 2013 to have her second child.
Undefeated over the London course, she has the quickest personal best in this year’s lineup by more than a minute with 2:18.37 and is aiming to become the fourth woman to win the London Marathon three times.
Feyse Tadese and Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia look the only realistic challengers to the Kenyans, while the European challenge is led by three women who have all run sub-2:25 –- Russia’s 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Tatyana Arkhipova, Ukraine’s Tetyana Gamera-Shmyrko and last year’s European champion Christelle Daunay of France.
Britain’s world record holder and three-times London winner Paula Radcliffe also plans to take part in what she says will be her final marathon.
Editing by Ken Ferris