The IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup returns to London for the third time on Sunday (24 April) as more than 60 of the world’s top para-athletes take to the streets of the British capital for the Virgin Money London marathon.
Seven events make up the World Cup programme on race day, with visually impaired, wheelchair and ambulant athletes all set to go under starters orders before taking on the 26.2 mile course around the city.
The USA’s Joshua George returns to British shores hoping for a repeat of last year’s winning performance which saw him clinch the men’s T53/54 marathon world title – the IPC Athletics World Marathon Championships took place at this event last year.
The 32-year-old is joined by the likes of Great Britain’s six-time London marathon winner and reigning Paralympic champion David Weir, Australia’s two-time Paralympic champion Kurt Fearnley, South Africa’s 10-time Boston marathon winner Ernst van Dyk and Switzerland’s 2014 London marathon champion and winner in Boston, USA, on Monday (18 April), Marcel Hug.
George’s US teammate Tatyana McFadden heads up the field in the women’s T53/54 race, having triumphed in London for the last three years.
McFadden has dominated women’s wheelchair racing in recent years, winning the marathon Grand Slam of Boston, London, Chicago and New York in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Switzerland’s 2013 world champion Manuela Schar, Japan’s Tokyo marathon winner Wakako Tsuchida and US racer Amanda McGrory - a two-time London winner - are amongst those hoping to upset the form book.
Ray Martin is another US 2015 world champion – who like George and McFadden, trains out of the University of Illinois – hoping to make his mark once more in Paralympic year. Martin goes in the T51/52 event.
Aniceto dos Santos completes the line-up of reigning marathon world champions who will start on Sunday. The Brazilian won gold in the men’s T13 event 12 months ago and is joined by New Zealand’s former Paralympic 800m T13 champion Tim Prendergast, who finished third in 2015.
The men’s T11/12 event includes 14 para-athletes, and it is Colombia’s Paralympic silver medallist Elkin Moreno who is the fastest on paper, with a personal best of 2:26:39. Watch out too for the Japanese long distance runners Yuichi Takahashi and Yutaka Kumagai.
The women’s T11/12 race meanwhile features another strong Japanese duo – Mihoko Nishijima and Yumiko Fuji, as well as China’s world 1,500m champion Zheng Jin.
Italy’s former world champion Alessandro di Lello last won the London marathon in 2013, and he will be hoping for a return to winning ways in the men’s T45/46 event. The 38-year-old’s rivals include China’s Li Chaoyan, Morocco’s Abdelhadi El Harti and Great Britain’s Derek Rae.