Defending champion Eliud Kipchoge broke the two-year-old men’s course record with a commanding performance while compatriot Jemima Sumgong recovered from a heavy fall at 21 miles to lead the women home at the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday.
Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge out-kicked compatriot Stanley Biwott on the Embankment and sprinted home in 2:03:05, just eight seconds outside the world record and inside Wilson Kipsang’s old course record of 2:04:29 by more than a minute.
The 31-year-old Kipchoge not only smashed the men’s course record but also jumped to second place on the all-time marathon list.
Kipchoge led from the start on Blackheath all the way to the iconic Finish Line on The Mall, looking completely in control throughout the 26.2-mile race, his performance a masterclass in efficient running and perfect pacing as he out-kicked the best men’s field ever assembled for a marathon.
“I’m happy that I ran a new course record today; I don’t regret missing the world record,” he said afterwards. “It was good to get a personal best and I believe the world record is within my grasp.
“The London crowds really pushed me on today,” he continued. “It’s a great course and the support was perfect – the crowd was fantastic.”
Kipchoge’s performance was fantastic too, given the blustery and cool conditions.
From the gun, a group of nine of the fastest men of all time formed behind the two Kenyan pacemakers Gideon Kipketer and Cosmas Lagat.
After a fast first mile of 4:30, they settled into a tight bunch with Kipchoge, Stanley Biwott and Wilson Kipsang at the front, stretched in a line across the road, followed by Ethiopian track legend Kenenisa Bekele and world champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie from Eritrea.
Three Ethiopians, Tilahun Regassa, Abera Kuma and Sisay Lemma, hung towards the back of the group, along with world record holder Dennis Kimetto of Kenya.
Kipchoge had Birdcage Walk to himself as he chased Kimetto’s mark of 2:02:57. Running smoothly with a smile playing on his lips, the defending champion turned into The Mall, the crowd willing him on.
It was not to be. With six wins out of seven marathons, his masterful performance surely cements his place among the great, although his best may yet be to come.
Biwott also set a lifetime best time of 2:03:51 to join a select club of four men who have run 26.2 miles in under 2:04.
Ethiopian track legend Kenenisa Bekele was third in 2:06:36 – an impressive achievement given that he reckoned to be just 90 per cent fit.
Sumgong takes the women’s London crown
Jemima Sumgong turned near tragedy into triumph as she rebounded from a heavy fall to seal the fifth Kenyan double in the event’s 36 editions, with a dramatic victory in the women’s race.
Sumgong shrugged off her tumble and held off Ethiopian defending champion Tigist Tufa to take the women’s crown in 2:22:58.
Approaching 21 miles water point, Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia clipped Sumgong’s heels and she fell into Mary Keitany, sending all three tumbling.
That was the end for Keitany and Mergia, but Sumgong took the bang on her head as a spur to start the real race and strode away from Tufa and world champion Mare Dibaba to take her first major marathon victory.
“The Ethiopian runner clipped my leg and I went down,” the champions said. “I got up again as quickly as possible and got my pace back.
“The fall really affected me and I was unsure if I could continue. I have a cut on my head and on my shoulder, they are bleeding but I don’t feel any pain yet. I did feel it in my legs so I am so surprised I won.”
Tigist Tufa was just five seconds adrift in second place, an impressive title defence from her, while world half marathon record holder Florence Kiplagat came through for third in 2:23:39, her second podium finish in London in her fifth appearance.
- Kipchoge, Eliud (KEN) +00:00 2:03:05
- Biwott, Stanley (KEN) +00:46 2:03:51
- Bekele, Kenenisa (ETH) +03:31 2:06:36
- Ghebreslassie, Ghirmay (ERI) +04:41 2:07:46
- Kipsang, Wilson (KEN) +04:47 2:07:52
- Regassa, Tilahun (ETH) +06:42 2:09:47
- Lemma, Sisay (ETH) +07:40 2:10:45
- Hawkins, Callum (GBR) +07:47 2:10:52
- Kimetto, Dennis (KEN) +08:39 2:11:44
- Kibrom, Ghebre (ERI) +08:51 2:11:56
- Sumgong, Jemima (KEN) +00:00 2:22:58
- Tufa, Tigist (ETH) +00:05 2:23:03
- Kiplagat, Florence (KEN) +00:41 2:23:39
- Mazuronak, Volha (BLR) +00:56 2:23:54
- Mergia, Aselefech (ETH) +00:59 2:23:57
- Dibaba, Mare (ETH) +01:11 2:24:09
- Tadese, Feyse (ETH) +02:05 2:25:03
- Jeptoo, Priscah (KEN) +04:29 2:27:27
- Keitany, Mary (KEN) +05:32 2:28:30
- Augusto, Jessica (POR) +05:55 2:28:53