Farah shines in London’s sun as Kipchoge completes a treasured treble
Eliud Kipchoge lived out his career dream this morning as he completed a treble of London titles to reclaim his elite men’s crown at the 38th Virgin Money London Marathon with Sir Mo Farah breaking the British record in third and Vivian Cheruiyot sealing a Kenyan double with a surprise victory in the women’s race.
Kipchoge joined compatriot Martin Lel and Mexican Dionicio Ceron as the only men to win London three times, an achievement he said this week would be the greatest of his stellar career and make him “the happiest man on Earth”.
After previous victories in 2015 and 2016, Kipchoge defended his undefeated record in style and took a ninth career win over 26.2 miles in 2:04:17, missing his two-year-old course record on a day of punishing heat in the capital.
“I came to London to run a beautiful race and today I ran a really beautiful race,” said the Olympic champion. “Thank you, London.”
The majestic Kipchoge had to work hard for his win. After setting off on world record pace, he was shadowed for much of the race by Ethiopia’s Tola Shura Kitata, who eventually succumbed to the master but hung on for second in a personal best of 2:05:00.
As for Farah, he lived up to his own – and his nation’s hopes – when he took third in 2:06:21, well inside Steve Jones’ 33-year-old British record and good enough to claim a place on the London Marathon podium exactly 20 years since he first won the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon as a talented teenager.
Farah ran with the leaders for as long as he could, but endured a lonely last six miles and crossed the line exhausted having finished nearly two minutes faster than on his debut three years ago.
“It was do or die,” he said afterwards. “I went as fast as I could.”
If the men’s race was gruelling, the women’s was no less tough as Cheruiyot chased down the world record-chasing defending champion, Mary Keitany, to seal an unexpected victory in 2:18:31, making her the fourth fastest woman ever.
The tiring Keitany struggled home in fifth as compatriot Brigid Kosgei moved through the field to claim second in 2:20:13 with Ethiopia’s Tadelech Bekele third in 2:21:30.
On a day when Her Majesty The Queen started the mass race from Windsor Castle, there was more cheer for Britain when David Weir won a right royal battle to take a wonderful eighth men’s wheelchair crown.
After his record seventh victory 12 months ago, the ‘Weirwolf’ was roaring again as he again held off Switzerland’s ‘Silver Bullet’ Marcel Hug to cement his status as the most successful athlete in London Marathon history.
There was more wheelchair history in the women’s race as Madison de Rozario became the first ever Australian women’s winner in London just a week after taking Commonwealth Games gold.
In fantastic conditions for wheelchair racing, De Rozario clinched her first big city title with an impressive sprint finish that denied US star Tatyana McFadden a fifth London crown.