Kenyans dominate on glorious London Marathon day
Nearly 35,000 runners finished the Virgin London Marathon today as Kenyans Emmanuel Mutai and Mary Keitany capped a beautiful day in the capital with two superb performances in the elite races.
Mutai smashed the course record with a dominating performance that left the many of the world's top distance runners floundering in his wake, while Keitany won the women's race in a time only world record holder Paula Radcliffe has ever beaten on the London course.
Mutai became the first man in London Marathon history to complete the 26.2 miles in under two hours five minutes as he crossed the line in 2:04:40, the fifth quickest ever run, while Kenyan men swept the medals for the first time.
Martin Lel completed a remarkable return to marathon racing after nearly three years out with injury as he outsprinted Patrick Makau in 2:05:45 to finish second while defending champion Tsegaye Kebede was fifth.
Keitany moved to equal fourth on the women's all-time list with her winning time of 2:19:19 after surging away from defending champion Liliya Shobukhova. The Russian outkicked Edna Kiplagat to take second, the only non-Kenyan among the six medallists.
It was a race of unprecedented quality as a record 22 women broke 2:30, a massive improvement on the previous best of 15.
David Weir made history in the wheelchair races, becoming the first man ever to win five titles as he powered home in 1:30:05 just ahead of Swiss world record holder Heinz Frei, while American Amanda McGrory beat Shelly Woods on the line to regain the women's crown in a course record 1:46:31.
Behind the stars, thousands of Guinness World Record chasers, fun runners and fancy dress fund raisers coped with temperatures rising to 20 degrees Celsius as they pushed themselves towards their personal goals.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, set 35,303 on their way from Greenwich this morning after 35,643 had registered to run by close of play on Saturday from more than 45,000 accepted applicants. By 7pm this evening, 34,705 had crossed the finish line in The Mall.
Among the masses of personal triumphs on a day that warmed and brightened by the hour were a record 33 Guinness World Records, including the fastest fairy (male) in 3:10:56, 10 minutes ahead of the fastest fairy (female); the fastest superhero in a truly super 2:42:46; and the fastest banana, in 3:45:42.
As usual, many turned out in outlandish costumes and many thousands more ran to raise millions for hundreds of charities, not least Steve Chalke, the record-breaking fund-raiser who made it to the finish line in good shape, well on course for his £2 million target.
The Marathon had its first Rubik's cube completer as Uli Killian solved 100 puzzles, while cyclist Chris Newton was the quickest celebrity in 2:58:52. James Cracknell was second in 3:03:56 with model Nell McAndrew third in another exceptional time of 3:08:25, 10 minutes ahead of actor Tony Audenshaw, 3:18:13.
Footballer Dwight Yorke was half an hour outside his predicted time in 3:31:56, 10 minutes behind Muzzy Izzet, but Jamie Baulch eclipsed Iwan Thomas's personal best as he ran 3:51:40. Thomas was more than half an hour behind in 4:24:52.
Matthew Pinsent just missed the four-hour target in 4:11:36, as did singer Will Young who clocked 4:02:35. Bucks Fizz duo Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston were just happy to see the line, Baker in 5:19:46 and Aston in 6:25:54.
The youngest man to finish was Kieran Clark in 3:52:04, while the youngest woman was Helen Nutter in 4:24:10, both 18. The oldest man was Paul Freeman, aged 86, who finished in 6:47:31, while the oldest woman, Iva Barr, aged 83, crossed the line in 6:36:10.
Despite the warm conditions, a relatively small number, 4,709 runners received medical attention during the day; 68 were taken to hospital.
The ballot to enter the 2012 Virgin London Marathon opens online on Tuesday 26 April.
Go to www.virginlondonmarathon.com.