Olympic champions to grace the BUPA London 10,000 Olympic marathon champions past and present return to the British capital next Monday (25 May) in a bid to win the second edition of the Bupa London 10,000.
Stefano Baldini, who won the Athens Olympic marathon in 2004, will be chasing victory for Italy on his 38th birthday, while Constantina Dita, the 2008 Olympic marathon champion, is seeking redemption in the women’s race after the 39-year-old Romanian was forced to drop out of the London Marathon just a month ago.
They will race over a spectacular central London course which follows the proposed route of the 2012 Olympic Games marathons, starting in Birdcage Walk and taking in Parliament Square, Victoria Embankment, St Paul’s Cathedral, the City and Trafalgar Square before finishing in The Mall.
“I am delighted to be returning to London for the BUPA London 10,000,” said Baldini, who ran the London Marathon eight times over 10 years, finishing second in 1997 and 2003.
“I have raced in this city many times and have many great memories,” he added. “I will be doing my best to give myself a great birthday present with another top three London finish on 25 May.”
Baldini will face four strong Africans in Boniface Kiprop, the Ugandan record holder and Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion, Kenyan Luke Kibet, the reigning world marathon champion, his compatriot Samuel Kosgei, who ran 27 minutes 49 seconds in Puerto Rico this March, and Abdullah Ahmad Hassan who has the fastest personal best in the field with 27:31.
Ukrainian record holder Sergiy Lebid leads the European challenge. Lebid has won the European Cross Country Championships no fewer than eight times and knows the course well after finishing sixth here last year.
British hopes will rest with Mo Farah, the European indoor 3000m champion. Farah knows this will be a stiff test before he turns his attention to the track season, but the 26-year-old west Londoner is confident he can put up a good performance after finishing third a year ago.
“Racing against such a strong field will be tough,” said Farah. “But I am confident I can stay in touch with the leaders and give the London crowd something to cheer about.”
Farah will be supported by Andrew Lemoncello, the Scottish steeplechaser who has represented Britain at World Championships and the Beijing Olympic Games, and Phil Wicks, who recently won the Bristol 10k after setting personal bests at half marathon and five miles earlier this year.
Dita will be favourite for the women’s title. The Olympic champion will be keen to show her form after liver pains ruined her hopes in the London marathon last month.
New Zealand’s Kim Smith, the Italian Fatna Maraoui, and Australian Emily Brichacek will be prominent in the chasing pack, with the in-form Smith particularly keen to impress after setting an Oceanian indoor 5000m record in New York earlier this year.
Steeplechaser Hatti Dean, fresh from a PB victory in the Bristol 10k, is the leading British hope.
“We are delighted to have strong elite fields for our second BUPA London 10,000,” said David Bedford, race director of the Virgin London Marathon which is organising the event.
“To have two Olympic marathon champions on the start line is a great boost for us. Their presence will add to the excitement and enjoyment for 12,500 fun runners and charity fund raisers who will follow them around this fantasticcourse.”