British marathon runner Liz Yelling will return to competitive action for the first time in five months when she bids to win the adidas Women's 5k Challenge in London on Sunday, September 11.
Yelling, who experienced injury woes in the 2011 Virgin London Marathon in April, is aiming to become the first British winner of the annual Hyde Park road event since Paula Radcliffe set the course record of 14 minutes 51 seconds in 2003.
The 36-year-old Bedford athlete will lead a largely British line-up for the event which has been won by a host of great names from the world of women's distance running since it was first staged in 1998.
These include, not just Radcliffe, the world marathon record holder, but Sonia O'Sullivan, a world and European track champion in the 1990s, Derartu Tulu, twice an Olympic 10,000m champion, Meseret Defar, a world and Olympic 5000m champion, Vivian Cheruiyot, crowned double world distance champion last week in Daegu, and Linet Masai, the 2009 10,000m champion.
Yelling, who won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal for the marathon in 2006, was sixth in the Hyde Park race in 2007 when she clocked 15:41. She said: "The adidas Women's 5k Challenge will be my first run out for a while. I've spent a few months sorting my injury out and that's now much better. I'm still building my training but I always love to support this event. Running with so many other women is really inspiring."
Among her opponents this year will be Gemma Steel, the Charnwood athlete who shocked herself by beating Radcliffe to finish second at the Bupa London 10,000 on May 30; Justina Heslop, who was fourth in the same race and ninth in the women's 5k challenge last year; Natalie Harvey, an Olympian over 5000m and 10,000m back in 1996 and 2000 and Julia Bleasdale, recent winner at Crystal Palace in the London Grand Prix 5000m.
"We are delighted to welcome Liz back to the adidas Women's 5k Challenge," said David Bedford, race director of the Virgin London Marathon, organisers of the event. He continued: "Liz was disappointed with her performance at the Virgin London Marathon earlier this year and will be hoping to get back on track in Hyde Park this Sunday.
"She will be pushed by a strong contingent of British athletes, not least Gemma Steel who had such a great run in the Bupa London 10,000 a few months ago and Julia Bleasdale winner of the 5000m at the London Grand Prix. Of course, we are also pleased to see so many thousands of other women who've come to appreciate this race for its unique atmosphere in one of London's great parks."
Behind the leading contenders will be thousands of female club runners, joggers, charity fund raisers and celebrities who together give this event its special atmosphere. Participating celebrities include Donna Air, Fatima Whitbread, Denise Van Outen, Kristina Rihanoff, Lizzie Cundy, Tessa Peake-Jones, Nadia Sawalha, Vicky Binns and Jodie Prenger.
Also present at the adidas marquee will be Lisa Dobriskey 2009 World Silver Medallist 1500m, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 2009 World Youth Heptathlon Champion, and Ollie Phillips Professional Rugby Player and Breast Cancer Campaign Sports Ambassador, all signing autographs.