Kipchoge goes out of this world as Sumgong takes dramatic victory
Eliud Kipchoge broke the course record to retain the men’s elite title at the Virgin Money London Marathon this morning as Jemima Sumgong made it a Kenyan double with a dramatic victory in the women’s race.
The men had started with a countdown from Tim Peake in outer space and ended with an out of this world performance as Kipchoge became the second fastest man in history, missing the world record by just seven seconds.
Kipchoge out-kicked compatriot Stanley Biwott on the Embankment and sprinted home in 2:03:05 while Sumgong recovered from a heavy fall at 21 miles and held off defending champion Tigist Tufa to lead the women home in 2:22:58.
Kipchoge and Biwott had pulled away from Ethiopian track legend Kenenisa Bekele with less than 10 miles to go, and broke the 30km world record on route to running the fastest ever marathon on the London course.
Kipchoge, utterly in control throughout the super-fast race, crossed the line like the world champion track runner he used to be, before slapping his forehead in frustration as he realised how close he’d been to the world mark.
Kipchoge needed to run 90 seconds for the last 600 metres to break the world record. Even he couldn’t manage that, but he was a full one minute and 25 seconds inside Wilson Kipsang’s course record having missed it by just 13 seconds last year.
“I am frustrated I missed the world record but I am happy to break the course record,” said Kipchoge. “I realised I had broken the 30k record but I lost a few seconds before 35k. I tried to get it back at the end but I just couldn’t do it.
“It was a good course. The support was perfect – the crowd was fantastic and it was good to get a PB.”
Biwott broke his personal best to finish second in 2:03:51 while Bekele, the man with an unmatchable track record, confirmed that he is a marathon runner to be reckoned with as he finished third in 2:06:36.
The men had run at world record pace for three quarters of the course, but the women dawdled by comparison meaning seven were together as they geared up for the last five miles. They had been tight together from the start – too tight, for 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.”
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.
If it was a good day for Kenya, it was a happy one for Britain too as three men dipped under the 2:14:00 Rio Olympic qualifying time, led by Callum Hawkins running 2:10:53 in eighth place, ahead of world record holder Dennis Kimetto, with debutant Tsegai Tewelde the surprise man 12th in 2:12:23. Callum’s brother Derek was the third Briton home in 2:12:57.
Alyson Dixon won the women’s battle of Britain, 13th in 2:31:52, just eight seconds ahead of Samuels with debutante Charlotte Purdue the third Briton home in 2:32:48.
Marcel Hug regained the London Marathon wheelchair title just six days after winning in Boston to prove that he is the form man in the run-up to the Paralympic Games.
Britain’s David Weir was again denied a record seventh crown as Kurt Fearnely took second and Weir had to be content with third, two seconds behind Hug’s winning 1:35:24.
There was no stopping Tatyana McFadden, who took the lead from Wakako Tsuchida early in the race but had to fight hard to hold off Switzerland’s Manuela Schär at the finish.
It was McFadden’s fourth in a row but hardest win yet as she crossed the line in 1:44:14, exactly three minutes short of her course record 12 months ago.