Even without the presence of Kenenisa Bekele, Mo Farah is set to face a fiercely competitive field when he makes his marathon bow in London. Organisers of the event, scheduled for Sunday 13 April, have confirmed an elite field that includes marathon world-record holder Wilson Kipsang, Olympic and world marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich, reigning London Marathon champion Tsegaye Kebede, and London course record holder Emmanuel Mutai.
News of such an experienced and star-studded cast means Farah will face a tough task if he is become the first British male runner to win the London Marathon since Eamonn Martin in 1993. Despite Bekele's triumph in the Bupa Great North Run, Farah's transition to the longer distance has been promising, taking first in the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon and setting a PB in South Shields with a time of 60:10.
In preparation for his debut, Farah ran the first half of the marathon last year to familiarise himself with the course and level of opposition. Despite receiving criticism for doing so, the double Olympic champion felt it was extremely important: "I gained a lot of valuable experience running part of the course alongside the top guys last year and can't wait to race over the full distance this April."
Looking at the elite field he will face, Farah added: "The London Marathon always attracts the world's best runners to its elite fields and this year will be no different. I am expecting it to be one of my toughest races and a real learning experience.
"I had another great year on the track in 2013, but the marathon is my main focus for this year. As a young boy growing up in London it has always been my ambition to run the London Marathon and to be able to make my marathon debut in my home town is very special."
Farah will be joined by three fellow Britons, including his former training partners, Scott Overall and Chris Thompson.