Two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat will have a score to settle on 7 September when she attempts to complete another famous double at the Bupa Great North Run, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
The 34-year-old Kenyan ran her way into the record books when she won the marathon at last year’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow, becoming the first ever woman to win back-to-back world titles over the classic distance.
In April this year she maintained that world-beating form, outsprinting namesake Florence Kiplagat on The Mall to win the London Marathon. In doing so, she completed the first half of what would be a rare double.
Only four women have won the elite women’s races at the Bupa Great North Run and the London Marathon in the same year. If Kiplagat succeeded on 7 September, she would be following in the footsteps of two British greats and two fellow Kenyans: Liz McColgan in 1996, Joyce Chepchumba in 1999, Paula Radcliffe in 2003 and Priscah Jeptoo in 2013.
She will also be looking to make amends after missing out on victory by a narrow margin in this race two years ago, when she finished second to Olympic 10,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba.
The full elite fields for the 2014 edition of the race are yet to be finalised but Kiplagat will be facing one of the world’s fastest ever marathon runners as organisers have also secured the appearance of Mary Keitany.
The 32-year-old Kenyan won the London Marathon in 2011 and 2012 and is the second-fastest marathon runner in history. Only Britain’s world record-holder Paula Radcliffe has run faster than the 2:18:38 that Keitany clocked in the 2012 edition of the London Marathon.
Keitany is also a former world record-holder for the half marathon, clocking 1:05:50 in Ras Al Khaimah three years ago. After taking a break to have her second child, Keitany returned to winning ways earlier this year with a 31:22 victory over 10km in Ottawa.
It promises to be the mother of all battles between Keitany and Edna Kiplagat on Tyneside.
Keitany has two children, while Kiplagat is a mother of five. She has two children of her own, plus two from her sister Alice, who died of breast cancer in 2003, and another from a neighbour who died in childbirth in 2013. She also runs the Edna Kiplagat Foundation to raise awareness and money for breast cancer.
The elite men’s race for the 2014 Bupa Great North Run has already attracted Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich, the reigning world and Olympic marathon champion. And this year’s event is guaranteed to be a landmark occasion, as it will be the first running event in the world to reach a landmark one millionth finisher.