21 AUG 2011 General News

Lel to challenge for third Great North Run title

Martin Lel wins the 2009 Great North Run (Mark Shearman)Martin Lel wins the 2009 Great North Run (Mark Shearman) © Copyright

Former Bupa Great North Run champion Martin Lel, one of the World's leading distance stars, has announced his commitment to chase a third title at the Tyneside venue on 18 September.


The Bupa Great North Run is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.


The 32-year-old Kenyan, a late entry for this year's Virgin London Marathon, bounced back from period of injury to show he is still a big name in the distance running world when finishing a brilliant second in April's race.


Now Lel, who missed defending his Great North Run crown last year after another setback in his preparations, will bid add to his titles at the world's biggest Half Marathon race.


"I'm looking forward to returning to what is a great event and where I have scored two important victories," said Lel, who defeated fellow Kenyan's World Marathon record holder, the late Sammy Wanjiru in 2007 and then two years later Kiplimo Kimutai, the latter race in a very fast 59:32.


The former World champion for the distance, added: "Winning the Bupa Great North Run is never easy given the strength of the fields and therefore my two victories mean very much to me. Now I want another."


Lel will line up against fellow countryman Emmanuel Mutai, who pulled away from him in the final stages of the London race and Morocco's two-time World Marathon gold medallist who has placed third in the last two Great North Runs.


There is also the possibility the capacity 54,000 field in the race from Newcastle to South Shields might include Mo Farah, who has been in stunning track form this year.


Last summer's European 5,000m and 10,000m gold medallist recently revealed he will compete in either the Bupa Great North Run or the previous day's Bupa Great North CityGames over two miles in the street athletics match between Great Britain and the United States.


The 28-year-old will make his decision after the World Championships finish in Daegu on 4 September, where he is favourite for the 10,000m title and if feeling no effects from that testing encounter may also chase another success in the 5,000m.


Should Farah, the UK's fastest ever Half Marathon performer, feel he is ready for the longer distance, it would see him attempt to become the first Briton to win the Great North Run since Steve Kenyon achieved the feat in 1985.


"It will be his first appearance on British soil after Daegu and whatever event he takes part in, I'm sure he'll get a huge welcome from the fans," said Dave Newton, the managing director of Nova International, the event organisers.


Organisers for the IAAF