Mary Keitany will be on a revenge mission when she returns to the scene of her record-breaking triumph in the 2015 Morrisons Great North Run on Sunday 13 September.
Last year the 33-year-old Kenyan was unstoppable in the world’s leading half marathon, breaking Paula Radcliffe’s course record on Tyneside by a second with a winning time of 65 minutes 39 seconds in the elite women’s section.
Twelve months on, Keitany will be up against the Ethiopian runner who stopped her from completing a hat-trick of victories in this year’s London Marathon.
Keitany, the 2009 world half marathon champion and holder of the world best for 25km on the road, lined up in the English capital in April hoping to repeat her triumphs of 2011 and 2012. She had to settle for second place, 18 seconds behind Tigist Tufa, who prevailed in 2 hours 23 minutes 22 seconds.
Tufa will not be the only tough opponent for Keitany, who holds the African marathon record of 2 hours 18 minutes 37 seconds.
The elite women’s field in the IAAF Gold Label event will also include Priscah Jeptoo, the 31-year-old Kenyan, who was victorious in the 2013 Great North Run in 65 minutes 45 seconds and who won marathon silver medals at both the 2011 World Championships in Daegu and the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Like Tufa, Britain’s Gemma Steel – an impressive runner-up to Keitany last year in 68 minutes 13 seconds – had already been confirmed in the 2015 line-up. Ethiopians Birhane Dibaba and Shure Demise and Japan’s Reina Iwade have also signed up.
Keitany’s victory last year came when she was on the comeback trail following the birth of her second child. “I was not expecting to break Paula Radcliffe’s record,” she said. “It was my first half marathon after a long break.”
The elite men’s field is also attracting notable international entrants: 2014 London Marathon runner up Stanley Biwott of Kenya; South African Stephen Mokoka, winner of the 2014 Great Scottish Run; former Pan American Games 5000m champion Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico and Japan’s Masato Kikuchi, who finished 18th in last year’s World Half Marathon Championship race.
British interest will be supplied by Scot Callum Hawkins, who was fifth in the Under 23 race at the European Cross Country Championships in Samakov, Bulgaria, last December.