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London marathon preview

They say variety is the spice of life and I'm never afraid to post previews of other sports, so long as there is genuine expertise to read. The London Marathon is just around the corner and Ian from Sportsbettingindex. You can read more from his site via Twitter as well, @SBIdotcom. I'd been saving this until closer to the race (originally posted to SBI subscribers Mar 27) so there's been a bit of price movement.

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London Marathon preview

The last two years of the London Marathon has been kind to me getting decent bets down on both winners - Kipsang @ 7/1 and Kebede @ 8/1 and I remember with fondness hammering the price of Ndereba from 9/1 into 7/2 when winning the World Championships in 2007. My background is mainly in golf betting and in that field bookmakers know who is going to be backed most weeks as based on course and current form the punters pile in to what generally speaking are artificially low prices. The books know who they will lay no matter what price they go and this is often the basis of how they make their money week in week out. However in some events this can backfire and I think this years London Marathon is a case in question.

We are in an unusual position this year as with Mo Farah running books are all up a few weeks early as there is extra interest and the bookmakers know home interest will see a lot of bets placed. Farah varies in price from 5/2 to 9/2 and that to me says a lot but in all honesty I would make him no lower than 8/1. We have to remember this is his first marathon, many great athletes have failed before him when making the step up in distance. His prep run in New York in the half marathon will have done him no favours as he “fell” during the race and collapsed after the line.

Another runner who I think is artificially short but will have his supporters is Stephen Kiprotich - the World and Olympic Champion has a great pedigree with those wins but they were summer marathons run over very different courses. He would have to run several minutes faster than he has ever done before and last year he could only finish sixth.

Last year's renewal was run at a fast early pace and Kebede came through to win by conserving his energy and I can see this year's race being run in much the same way. We have the great Haile Gebrselassie setting the pace as they go for a world record and it will be interesting to see who can grind it out.

Personally I think the books have it right making Wilson Kipsang favourite and I make him around 2/1 as well - he is a prolific winner but showed he was vulnerable to last years fast pace when he could only manage fifth - strange as later last year he set a new World Record when winning in Berlin.

I think the huge each way value lies with last year's winner Tsegaye Kebede who goes for his third win in the event. It is not easy to defend but Martin Lel did it when he went on to win his third title in 2008. Looking at his recent running history one can see that he rarely runs in any other road races and I think that sets him up well for full marathons - his body knows what’s coming! In the last six years he has run in 14 of them, finished them all, won 6 of them and finished on the podium in an amazing 12 - that is incredible consistency in what is one of the toughest sports in the world. I would make him more of a 3/1 shot and anything over 4/1 with books paying ¼ the odds three places you have to say with his podium finish record that is a fine price especially when you build in his overall London record of 2nd, 1st, 5th, 3rd and 1st.

Of the others - Emmanuel Mutai often finds one or two too good for him and his 2011 victory here remains his only major title. Stanley Biwott is still a bit of a dark horse but he blew up last year and I find it strange that people are backing him quite heavily. The only other one I quite like is Geoffrey Mutai who went off a short price last year but picked up a leg injury during the race and retired. He has shown that that injury has been shaken off by winning the New York Marathon in the Fall (beating Kebede into second with Biwott fifth) and then went on to win the New York Half Marathon from Mo Farah a few weeks ago.

It is great to see an event with prices all over the place and I expect to see a lot of further movement before the gun goes - to summarise my bets are as follows:

Tsegaye Kebede 2pts ew 7/1 (price long gone, but as mentioned above, bet down to 4/1)

Geoffrey Mutai 0.25pts ew 8/1 or better (took 10/1 myself)


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