Ramaala in London Marathon field

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

South African Hendrick Ramaala is one of the top global runners who have been included in the 2008 Flora London Marathon.

The organisers of the marathon unveiled 11 top runners who excelled this year, and have already signed on the dotted line for next year. It was the first batch of elite runners for the race.

The first man and woman to cross the finish line will each take home $55000, including whatever hefty appearance fee he and she may have negotiated.

The field for this year is led by former world record holder Paul Tergat of Kenya, with a time of 2hrs:04mins:55secs.

Tergat was the record holder until double Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie set a new one of 2:04:26 to win the 34th Berlin Marathon this year.

Also known as "The King", the Ethiopian has opted to compete in the Dubai Marathon in January where anybody setting a new world record will get $1million.

The winner will get $250000.

Like most of the top runners, Gebrselassie is preparing for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Going back to defend the London Marathon on April 13 is Kenyan Martin Lel, who is chasing his third consecutive title.

The 29-year-old Lel is also the reigning champ in the New York Marathon where Ramaala (35), the 1996 champion, finished third.

Ramaala said: "I feel great to have been included in the first group of big names for next year's London Marathon.

"It's a big relief because I will now focus on the preparations.

"We are all using it as part of our preparations for the Beijing Olympics marathon."

Elite Men's field fastest times:

Paul Tergat (Kenya) 2:04:55

Felix Limo (Kenya) 2:06:14

Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) 2:06:29

Martin Lel (Kenya) 2:06:41

Hendrick Ramaala (South Africa) 2:06:55

Jaouad Gharib (Morroco) 2:07:02

Stefano Baldini (ITA) 2:07:22

Yonas Kifle (Eritrea) 2:07:34

Abderrahim Goumri (Morocco) 2:07:44

Luke Kibet (Kenya) 2:08:52

Aleksey Sokolov (Russia) 2:09:07

Meb Keflezighi (United States) 2:09:53