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It's hard to imagine a 26.2-mile race topping the drama of Monday's Boston Marathon, but the high-profile athletes assembled in London and lofty goals vocalized for this Sunday's Virgin Money London Marathon indicate that track fans may very well get two of the best marathons ever in a span of six days.
The longest-standing women's distance world record turns 15 this year—the untouchable 2:15:25 recorded by Paula Radcliffe at the 2003 London Marathon. Two challengers, 36-year-old Mary Keitany of Kenya and 32-year-old Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia, both of whom are widely considered to be two of the top distance women in sporting history, will give Radcliffe's record a go this weekend at the same site.
Keitany's pace dropped off after the half marathon, as her pacer Caroline Chepkoech dropped out at that mark. Dibaba was also already a minute behind her rival at that point in the race, though she has said she is better prepared for the hot early start this year.
Race organizers in London have not yet announced the identities of the male pacers, nor how long they are instructed to run, but it's fair to assume they will last longer on the course than Chepkoech.
Keitany showcased her 2018 fitness with a runner-up finish at the RAK Half Marathon in 64:55, a time that made her the third-fastest women's half marathoner in world history.
Dibaba has not raced since winning the Chicago Marathon last fall in 2:18:31.