Records galore as London celebrates its #ReasonToRun
After a record number of runners crossed the Start Line of the Virgin Money London Marathon today, more than 39,400 completed the gruelling 26.2-mile journey from Blackheath to Westminster, making the 37th edition of the race the biggest in its history by 347 runners.
Of the 39,487 who crossed the Finish Line in The Mall by 18:15 this evening, one established two new world records, one broke a course record, one took a record-breaking seventh London win and 39 broke Guinness World Records, making the 2017 event the greatest ever London Marathon.
Mary Keitany ran alone for all but two of the 26.2 miles, powering clear of the greatest field ever assembled to take her third London title in a world record time of 2:17:01. Only Paula Radcliffe has run faster, when she set the mixed-race world record in 2003, but she had to watch from the commentary box today as Keitany smashed her women-only record of 2:17:42.
The Kenyan party continued as Daniel Wanjiru held off Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele in a thrilling finish to take his first major marathon win at the age of 24. His countryman Bedan Karoki finished third on his marathon debut in 2:07:41 to add to Kenya’s medal haul.
The first elite racer across the Finish Line in The Mall today was Great Britain’s David Weir, sprinting ahead of his long-time rival Marcel Hug to clinch a record-breaking seventh London Marathon title on his 18th appearance at the race – his victory all the sweeter as he’d waited five years since his last win. His magnificent seven victories make him the most successful elite athlete in the race’s history.
Switzerland’s Manuela Schär took her first London title in the women’s wheelchair race, making it fourth time lucky after finishing second at the previous three editions of the event. Her win was worth the wait as she smashed the course record in 1:39:57, more than one minute faster than Tatyana McFadden’s 2014 time of 1:41:14.
Keitany became the first athlete to win six Abbott World Marathon Majors races, while all four London champions now top the Series XI Abbott World Marathon Majors leaderboards as the new 12-month cycle kicked off in style.
Ray Martin of the US was the star of the World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup, winning his third consecutive T51/52 wheelchair title.
Before the elites came the Minis, as crowds around the Finish Line witnessed three course records in the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon as Josh Dickinson, Charlotte Alexander and Naomi Toft set best ever times over the three-mile course.
In the race for World Championship places, Josh Griffiths of Swansea Harriers delivered the shock of the day by finishing first Briton in 2:14:49 on his marathon debut. The 23-year-old wasn’t even part of the elite field but his performance has earned him a place on the British team at this summer’s Championships alongside fellow-mountain runner Robbie Simpson.
Alyson Dixon was the first British woman under the gantry, taking 24 seconds off her personal best to finish in 2:29:06 and securing her place on the team. Charlotte Purdue was right behind her, the 25-year-old dipping under 2:30 for the first time as she clocked 2:29:23.
Then came the masses, a record field of 40,048 runners sent on their way by Prince Harry and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, many of them sporting Heads Together headbands to support the 2017 Official Charity, as the race celebrated every runner’s inspirational #ReasonToRun the marathon.
The royal trio started the race, following Helen Glover and Heather Stanning as the Olympic champion rowers performed starter duties for the elite women and para-athletes.
Glover then ran one of the fastest times by a celebrity as she completed the course in a stunning 3:05:25, with Stanning not far behind in 3:32:46.
Chrissie Wellington was the quickest woman of all on the celebrity list, the four-time Ironman World Champion clocking 2:49:01. James Cracknell was the fastest celebrity, setting a personal best of 2:43:12.
Today’s oldest runner, the ever-present 83-year-old Ken Jones, completed his 37th consecutive London Marathon in 6:41:39.
Jackie Scully and Duncan Sloan, who tied the knot this morning at 07:30 on the Cutty Sark, spent their first few hours of married life apart as groom Duncan finished in 3:27:59, while bride Jackie crossed the line in 5:56:26.
Rehman Chishti was the fastest MP in 3:34:22 on his marathon debut, the Conservative MP for Gillingham and Rainham beating his Tory colleague Alun Cairns, MP for the Vale of Glamorgan. Cairns came home in 3:36:45.
It was London man Joe Spraggins who was fastest Guinness World record-breaker of all, the London man clocking 2:42:24 to complete the fastest marathon dressed as a swimmer. In his wake came elves, Vikings, chilli peppers and monks, while records fell for toilet rolls, nuns, Wellington boots and Banana Man.
The BBC’s Brendan Foster, who has commentated on every London Marathon since the first race in 1981, was awarded the John Disley Lifetime Achievement Award ahead of his retirement in August – a fitting tribute on a fabulous day.