Reigning champions Duncan Maiyo and Pennina Wanjiru will return to defend their titles at the 2016 Brighton Marathon on Sunday 17 April, the organisers of the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race announced on Friday (18).
However, the pair take on two of the strongest elite fields in the event’s seven-year history.
The main threat to Maiyo will come from his compatriots, John Kemboi Cheruiyot and Raymond Chemungor, the two quickest men in the field who could well have their eyes on William Chebor’s 2014 course record.
Cheruiyot, 25, has already proved he can run the classic distance in that sort of time, having clocked 2:08:56 to finish sixth on his debut at last October’s Frankfurt Marathon.
He has also won major road races in Chicago and Mobile in the USA and has a half marathon best of 1:01:10 in Lille, France, two years ago.
Chemungor also has an impressive record having won no fewer than half of his six marathons to date, including the Lens Marathon twice and the Toulouse Marathon in 2014.
The 28-year-old was only two places behind Cheruiyot in Frankfurt last year when he lowered his personal best to 2:10:06.
Two other Kenyans should also be in the hunt for places on the podium, the in-form Edwin Kiptoo, who was eighth in the Toronto Marathon last October in his best time of 2:11:45; and Joel Kimutai, who won the Great Birmingham Run half marathon in 2014 and was sixth on his marathon debut last year in 2:14:38.
Ayeko looking for brithday present
Uganda’s Thomas Ayeko may be the surprise package as he seeks to mark his 24th birthday on race day in pleasing fashion.
A noted cross country runner, he also finished 11th in the 10,000m final at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013.
He finished fourth in Rennes last October on his marathon debut in 2:12:17 but clearly has the talent to run much quicker.
Wamjiru returns to Brighton with an undefeated record after winning her second marathon in Malaga in December, but she could face her stiffest test yet on 17 April when she takes on three other east Africans who all have quicker career bests.
Ethiopia’s Asnakech Mengistu is the fastest on paper with a best of 2:25:50 set when winning the Milan Marathon in 2010.
With 15 marathons behind her, the 29-year-old Mengistu has huge experience and good form. She won the Gaochun marathon in Nanjing last November and has chalked up 10 top five places including five podium finishes.
Mengistu is joined by her 23-year-old compatriot, Halima Hussen Kayo, who ran 2:32:51 when finishing eighth in Prague last May, while Wanjiru has fellow Kenyan and 2010 Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion, Grace Momanyi, for company.
Momanyi ran a marathon best last year when she was second in Dublin in 2:32:16
Event Founder Tim Hutchings commented: “To have both our reigning champions return is clear indication that they enjoyed their visits 12 months ago, but we’ve purposely not made the defence of their titles easy and the quality in depth of both races will mean fierce contests on 17 April.
“The course records are vulnerable but first and foremost, I’m excited about the racing that we’ll witness with athletes of this calibre.”
Organisers for the IAAF