By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) - Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge will seek to complete a hat-trick of London Marathon victories next year after missing the 2017 event to focus on his Breaking2 sub-two hour bid, organisers said on Thursday.
The 33-year-old Kenyan won the 2015 race and finished eight seconds outside Dennis Kimetto's world record time of 2:02:57 to triumph again 12 months later, but he did not defend his title this year to instead focus on the Nike Breaking2 project.
In that event he ran two hours and 25 seconds, though that time is not an official world record due to aspects of the event not satisfying IAAF criteria..
The former 5,000 metres world champion's official best marathon time of 2:03:05 set in London in 2016 is the fourth-fastest in history. He came close to the world record again in Berlin this year, clocking 2:03:32 in damp conditions..
As always, questions about a potential world record were top of the agenda as Kipchoge held a conference call with journalists on Thursday. The last six world records were set at Berlin, with London last producing one in 2002 when Khalid Khannouchi ran 2:05.38.
"First of all I race to win but London is a good course, world records can be broken here. Remember last year I missed it by a few seconds so London is truly a place to break a world record," he said.
"Berlin was difficult because the weather was not good but my time showed I was in the right shape. As ever with marathon running, everything needs to come right on the day.
"I know that I have the world record in me so we will have to wait and see what happens."
Although most of the rest of the elite field is yet to be announced one name already inked in is that of Briton Mo Farah, having his second attempt at the distance but first after stepping away from his track career.
Farah ran 2:08.21 in 2014 and would need a major improvement to challenge for the title next year.
Kipchoge, who has won all but one of the marathons he has raced since stepping up from the track in 2013, said he expected a strong showing from the home favourite.
"It does take time to make that switch but I’m sure Mo will be successful. Mo is a legend and has responded to all sorts of pressure before," he said.
"It’s great he will be racing the London Marathon next year because I’m sure that will make the atmosphere even more special."
(Editing by Toby Davis)