Athletics-Kipchoge will be at London Marathon, but not racing

Athletics - Berlin Marathon - Berlin, Germany - September 25, 2022 Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge celebrates as he wins the Berlin Marathon and breaks the World Record REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

LONDON (Reuters) - Eliud Kipchoge will be the star attraction at the London Marathon this weekend but the Kenyan, who smashed his own world record for the distance in Berlin on Sunday, will restrict his exertions to handing out medals in the Mini-Marathon.

Kipchoge, a four-times winner in London, clocked two hours, 01.09 seconds to take half a minute off his own record set on the same Berlin course four years ago.

Returning to London he will present medals to thousands of youngsters racing parts of the course on Saturday, finishing under the famous gantry on The Mall.

In an initiative for this year, new race sponsor Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will give the school of every child who finishes 10 pounds ($10.78) per participant to spend on PE or IT equipment.

"We are thrilled that Eliud will be with us this weekend. He is, without doubt, the GOAT of marathon running and will be a huge inspiration to everyone taking part," said event director Hugh Brasher.

The London Marathon will revert to its usual April date next year, increasing the chances of a return for Kipchoge as the optimum course of Berlin, traditionally held in September, remains his main draw when records are in his sights.

"They've got a fast course but we've got the biggest charity fundraising, the crowd, so many things that just make London so special," Brasher said.

"I'm honestly delighted that he went to Berlin and broke that world record and we would be absolutely delighted to have him back in 2023. We're just so pleased to have him here as an ambassador this week."

Briton Mo Farah, now 39, won the Mini Marathon three times and will be the man the locals want to see on Sunday. Brasher said he hoped the example of Kipchoge could persuade Britain's finest ever distance runner to defer any thoughts of retirement despite his struggles to compete at the sharp end in recent years.

"I think Eliud is proving aged 37 and running a PB that the age barriers that we used to think existed do not necessarily now exist," said Brasher.

"I think that what we should be doing is allowing Mo time to decide what he wants. One bad performance, a couple of bad performances, do not mean that people should write somebody off. He is an absolutely superb athlete, he will always be welcome back and I hope he runs fantastically well.

"The door will always be open to Mo – he is Britain’s greatest endurance athlete and we have a long history with him, going back to the Mini Marathon through the fact that we supported him through his university time, which is something that’s not publicised."

Brasher said that he was planning for London Marathon to accommodate 50,000 runners, up from the current total of around 40,000, probably from 2024, with a long view to matching that with 50,000 in the Mini Marathon to mark the race's 50th Anniversary in 2031.

The New York Marathon is consistently the world's biggest, with around 50,000 regularly finishing.

($1 = 0.9277 pounds)

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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