Chicago Marathon champion Lawrence Cherono will replace injured Farah, to battle Bekele in London Half Marathon

Chicago Marathon champion Lawrence Cherono has been drafted in to replace injured Mo Farah and battle Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele in the March 1 Vitality London Half Marathon.

Cherono, one of the world's most successful marathon runners, will take on Bekele as part of his training ahead of his title defense on the streets in Boston in April.

Cherono, who has been selected to represent Kenya at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, is the reigning champion of both the Boston and Chicago Marathons and has an incredible record of eight wins in 11 races over the 42km distance.

"I am really looking forward to going to London to run in such a high-quality race. I'm thankful for the opportunity. It is exactly the test I was looking for as I prepare for the Boston Marathon and I am sure it will be a great race," Cherono said on Wednesday.

The London Half Marathon, which starts close to London's iconic Tower Bridge, will offer Cherono a stern test gauging his fitness against Bekele, he is to fight at the Tokyo Olympic games later in August.

Bekele is the current world record holder for 5000m and 10000m and the second-fastest marathon runner in history having clocked 2:01:41 in winning Berlin race in 2019.

Both men will use the London Half Marathon as crucial preparation for upcoming marathons.

Bekele is working towards a mouth-watering match-up between himself and marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge on April 26 while Cherono will defend his Boston Marathon title six days earlier on April 20.

As well as Cherono and Bekele, the reigning Rotterdam Marathon champion Marius Kipserem from Kenya and a host of leading British athletes including Chris Thompson, Dewi Griffiths and Ross Millington will race in this year's event.

Mo Farah withdrew from this year's race due to injury and is still in Kenya to continue with his training.

posted Wednesday February 12th