By Michael Pavitt |
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge clocked a course record time to clinch a record fourth victory in the men’s race at the Virgin Money London Marathon as compatriot Brigid Kosgei claimed the women’s title.
World record holder Kipchoge was the clear favorite heading into the 39th edition of the annual race, which forms part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series.
It had been billed as a potential head-to-head between Kipchoge and Britain’s Sir Mo Farah, the Chicago Marathon winner.
Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track, had been embroiled in a public war of words with distance running great Haile Gebrselassie in the build-up, following a claim he had been burgled at a hotel owned by the Ethiopian.
Attention finally turned to the action out on the road but Farah ultimately slipped out of contention shortly after the half-marathon distance as Kipchoge increased the pace.
The Kenyan took the leading group through the 25 kilometer split at 14 seconds shy of the pace he set for his world record time of 2hr 1min 39 sec at the Berlin Marathon in September.
Kipchoge was slowly able to shake off the attentions of Tola Shura Kitata, before another Ethiopian Mule Wasihun began to slip out of contention.
The Olympic champion removed his final challenger Mosinet Geremew, another Ethiopian, with a turn of speed in the closing stages of the 26.2 mile event.
Kipchoge continued to pull clear and crossed the line in a time of 2:02.37, the second fastest time in history.
It fulfilled his coach Patrick Sang’s pre-race prediction that the Kenyan would break his own course record of 2:03.05, which he set back in 2016.
He is now the outright record winner of the men’s event at the London Marathon with four triumphs.
Geremew completed an impressive performance by finishing 18 seconds shy of the winner, with his time of 2:02.55 the third fastest ever.
The podium was rounded off by Wasihun in 2:03.16, while Kitata ended fourth in 2:05.01.
Farah had targeted a top three finish in front of a home crowd but he eventually ended fifth in a time of 2:05.39, over three minutes down on Kipchoge’s time.
While the pace of the men’s race proved fierce, the women’s event was a more conservative affair in the early stages.
The women’s elite field had been billed as the deepest in history, with four reigning major marathon champions taking part.
There was a surprise when Chicago Marathon winner Mary Keitany of Kenya was dropped from the leading group, ruling out her chance of a record-equalling fourth win.
Attention quickly turned to a battle between Kenyans Kosgei and defending champion Vivian Cheruiyot.
Kosgei broke the resistance of her compatriot in the closing stages of the race, which saw her build a comfortable advantage as the finish approached.
She triumphed in a time of 2:18.20 and finished 1:54 clear of second placed Cheruiyot.
The top three was completed by Ethiopia’s Roza Dereje, who clocked 2:20.51.
She was just one second clear of Boston Marathon champion Gladys Cherono of Kenya, while Keitany was a further six seconds down in fifth.
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.