Four Thoughts on the 2015 London Marathon Women’s Elite Field

We discuss the return of Priscah Jeptoo, wonder how fast the women could go and say goodbye to Paula Radcliffe.

Join Our Supporters Club To Keep Reading Sign up today to get 25% off and a free t-shirt.

January 14, 2015

The Virgin Money London Marathon released its women’s elite field this morning, which you can find below in its entirety. If you want a full rundown of each competitor’s credentials, check out the official London press release here which is hyping the “Fantastic Four” of Kenyans Edna Kiplagat (2:19:50, defending champ), Mary Keitany (2:18:37, winner in 2011 and 2012 and the fastest woman in history not named Radcliffe), Florence Kiplagat (2:19:44 pb, world half marathon record holder) and Priscah Jeptoo (2:20:14, the 2013 champ). Below, we’ve listed some of the early story lines to watch ahead of the race on April 26, 2015.

2015 London Marathon women’s elite field
Mary Keitany (Kenya) 2:18:37
Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) 2:19:50
Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) 2:19:44
Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) 2:20:14
Feysa Tadesse (Ethiopia) 2:20:27
Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) 2:20:41
Tigist Tufa (Ethiopia) 2:21:52
Tatyana Arkhipova (Russia) 2:23:29
Tetyana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) 2:23:58
Christelle Daunay (France) 2:24:22
Ana Dulce Félix (Portugal) 2:25:40
Sara Moreira (Portugal) 2:26:00
Alessandra Aguilar (Spain) 2:27:00
Volha Mazuronak (Belarus) 2:27:33
Rkia El Moukim (Morocco) 2:28:12
Iwona Lewandowska (Poland) 2:28:32
Diane Nukuri (Burundi) 2:29:35
Sonia Samuels (Great Britain & NI) 2:30:56
Emma Stepto (Great Britain & NI) 2:32:40
Rebecca Robinson (Great Britain & NI) 2:37:14

Edna Kiplagat wins 2014 London Marathon

Edna Kiplagat will be back to defend her title in 2015

Article continues below player

1. While nothing in running can equal the London men’s field, this field is still very, very good.

We lauded the London men’s field last week as the greatest in marathon history as it contained the entire top five from the 2014 LRC Year-End Rankings and eight sub-2:05 guys. The women’s field only has two of our top five (and five of our top 10) but it does contain four of the top five from the 2013-14 World Marathon Majors standings (ignoring doper Rita Jeptoo).

None of the names in the women’s field have quite the same cachet as Kipsang or Kimetto, but that’s okay. No matter who London got in it’s women’s race, it wasn’t going to be able to top the men’s field. Men’s marathoning is at its apex right now with the world record going down routinely, while no one has come within three minutes of the women’s WR in 10 years (it also doesn’t help that the current world’s best female marathoner got busted for EPO two months ago). But the race could be a great one as it boasts three women who have broken 2:20 and three more who have broken 2:21. Edna Kiplagat is the defending champion, but the favorite has to be Mary Keitany, whose 2:18:37 victory in 2012 was the fastest time in history by a woman not named Paula Radcliffe. Keitany took 2013 off to have a baby, but she returned in great shape last year at age 32, winning the Great North Run in 65:39 (the second-fastest half marathon in history) in September and the New York City Marathon two months later.

2014 runner-up Florence Kiplagat, who broke the half marathon world record last year (65:12), should provide strong competition, as will 2013 champ Priscah Jeptoo. Add in several women who ran well in majors last year such as Feysa Tadesse (fourth London, second Berlin), Jemima Sumgong (fourth Boston, second New York), Sara Moreira (third New York) and European champ Christelle Daunay and there are as many as eight women who will feel they have a legitimate chance to win in London.

2. The return of Priscah Jeptoo

At this time last year, Jeptoo was 29 years old and midway through what was shaping up as a phenomenal career in the marathon. Just look what she did in her first nine career marathons:

Date Race Time Place
11/8/2009 Porto Marathon 2:30:40 1st
4/25/2010 Padova Marathon 2:30:53 2nd
11/14/2010 Torino Marathon 2:27:02 1st
4/10/2011 Paris Marathon 2:22:55 1st
8/27/2011 World Championships 2:29:00 2nd
4/22/2012 London Marathon 2:20:14 3rd
8/5/2012 Olympic Games 2:23:12 2nd
4/21/2013 London Marathon 2:20:15 1st
11/3/2013 New York City Marathon 2:25:07 1st
Priscah Jeptoo After Winning 2013 ING NYC Marathon (Click for photo gallery)

Jeptoo won the last marathon she finished, in New York in 2013

There’s not a bad marathon in the bunch. Unfortunately, marathon #10 didn’t go as smoothly for Jeptoo as an injury caused her to drop out just before 30k in London last April. That injury caused Jeptoo to withdraw from New York in November; London will be hopefully be the first marathon that she finishes in over 17 months.

We’re inclined to think that Jeptoo will run well in London. She doesn’t have bad races and until last year she had gotten better every single year since taking up the marathon in 2009, culminating with a pair of wins in London and New York in 2013. Jeptoo pulled out from NYC last year even though she was able to win the Zevenheuvelenloop 15-K in the Netherlands just two weeks after the NYC, running 46:59 and defeating 2013 World XC champ Emily Chebet in the process. As we said at the time, a 46:59 is equal to 2:22 on the McMillan calculator so her reluctance to run New York last year suggests that she doesn’t want to go to a marathon at anything less than 100% (and perhaps explains her stellar record in marathons). She’s still only 30 years old, so expect Jeptoo to contend for the win if she makes it to the start line in London.

3. How fast will they go?

Historically, London has been a much faster women’s race than men’s. Four of the six fastest women’s times in history have been run on London’s course (Berlin has four of the top six men’s times), and with three sub-2:20 women in the field (and Jeptoo at 2:20:14), the potential is there for a really fast time in 2015.

In Keitany and Florence Kiplagat, London has the two fastest half marathoners of all time. When someone runs a blazing half marathon, it’s always tempting to say that they’ll be able to rock a marathon. While that’s not always the case on the men’s side, a really fast half marathon by a woman is a strong indicator that she’s ready for a fast full. Take a look at the five fastest women’s marathons in history and how each woman ran in her next marathon:

Athlete HM date Location Time Marathon date Location Time
Florence Kiplagat 2/16/2014 Barcelona 65:12 4/13/2014 London 2:20:24 (2nd)
Mary Keitany 9/7/2014 Great North Run 65:39 11/2/2014 New York 2:25:07 (1st)
Paula Radcliffe 9/22/2003 Great North Run 65:40 N/A*
Susan Chepkemei 4/1/2001 Lisbon 65:44 4/22/2001 Rotterdam 2:25:45 (1st)
Priscah Jeptoo 9/15/2013 Great North Run 65:45 11/3/2013 New York 2:25:07 (1st)

*Radcliffe, who had set the WR of 2:15:25 the previous spring, did not run a fall marathon in 2003 (her next marathon wasn’t until August of 2004 when she was a DNF in Athens).

That means you should pay close attention some of this winter’s fast half marathons, such as RAK (February 13), Barcelona (February 15) or Lisbon (March 22). If someone runs particularly fast at one of those races, that woman has a shot to lay down a really fast time in London. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Florence Kiplagat and Keitany, the two half marathon studs, attacking a sub-2:19 together. That would make for a great race, but a fast pace may not suit Edna Kiplagat, who has racked up two major wins (one in London), three runner-ups (all in London) and the last two gold medals at the World Championships. As good as Kiplagat has been — she’s finished in the top two in London four years in a row — a really fast race is probably the best way to defeat her as her pb of 2:19:50 is slower than both Keitany’s (2:18:37) and Florence Kiplagat (2:19:44). It’s simply more difficult for the 35-year-old Edna Kiplagat to produce a really fast effort than it is for Keitany (32) or Florence Kiplagat (27).

Edna Kiplagat has a chance if the winning time is slower than 2:20 — and that certainly could happen if a few women go out overly ambitiously. But in the past four years, the slowest winning time has been 2:20:21. If Edna Kiplagat is to win, she’ll need to shake off her disappointing 13th in New York and produce another effort in the low 2:20s — or possibly faster.


Radcliffe’s last major victory came in New York in 2008

4. Goodbye, Paula

London may be the final London marathon for world record holder and seven-time major champion Paula Radcliffe as an elite woman. The London press release states that Radcliffe will announcer her plans on January 30th as she “says farewell to marathon running”. She’s hinted that in 2015 she’ll do one last race in London and New York if the body holds up.

Radcliffe, 41, hasn’t run a marathon since placing third in Berlin in 2011. It looked like Radcliffe’s career was over after a stress fracture caused her to withdraw from the 2012 Olympics in London, but she’s back training now and wants to run London this year to end her career “on [her] own terms.”  Radcliffe, who has won London three times, won’t be contending for the win; her aim is to be competitive, and get a sub-2:30 clocking which we said last month is very possible.

After racing just once total in 2012 and 2013, Radcliffe got back into it with a 35:49 road 10K in September last year and followed that up with a 35:28 10K in October and 52:48 15K (2:28:31 marathon pace) in December. There won’t be any Brits contending for the win this year (no British woman on the entry list has broken 2:30; none of the British men entered have broken 2:10), Radcliffe will give the home crowd a nice story to cheer for.

[gravityform action=”polls” id=”67″ mode=”poll” cookie=”1 month” show_results_link=”true” display_results=”true” percentages=”true” counts=”false”]