Triple crowns as Kenyan pair seal Abbott World Marathon Majors titles
Series XI of the Abbott World Marathon Majors concluded in dramatic fashion yesterday with a double win for Kenya.
In the elite men’s series, Eliud Kipchoge destroyed the best men’s field ever assembled to take his third consecutive AWMM title, while his compatriot Mary Keitany destroyed herself in her bid to break the mixed-race women’s world record, failing in that quest but picking up the AWMM win as a consolation.
Series XI kicked off at last year’s London Marathon with a new one-year format featuring a rotating start and finish for each of the six annual series races.
A new prize structure was also introduced for Series XI, with prize money awarded to the top three men and women in both the open and wheelchair series, rather than just individual winner. The Series XI champions receive US$250,00 each with US$50,000 going to second and $25,000 to third, while the top wheelchair racers will get $50,000 each, with $25,000 and $10,000 going to second and third respectively.
Kipchoge claimed his Series XI crown in stunning style, taking 25 points for his London win yesterday to add to the 25 he earned for his Berlin Marathon victory last year.
His countryman Geoffrey Kirui was runner-up on 41 points, while 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi finished third on 25 points, tied with three other athletes but given the nod by the AWWM Race Directors for his gutsy performance in the atrocious conditions in Boston last week.
After the disappointment of coming fifth in yesterday’s London Marathon, Keitany also took her third Abbott World Marathon Majors title thanks to the 25 points she earned in London last year and her second place in New York last November.
Ethiopian track legend Tirunesh Dibaba also finished on 41 points but lost out as she’d been beaten by Keitany when the two women went head-to-head at last year’s London Marathon. Brigid Kosgei finished third on 32 points after another vote by the six Race Directors.
In the wheelchair competitions, Marcel Hug and Mauela Schär took the honours for Switzerland. Hug was well beaten by Great Britain’s David Weir yesterday but his four recent wins at Boston, New York City, Chicago and Berlin earned him the maximum 100 points.
Weir’s wins in London at the start and finish of Series XI earned him 50 points and the runner-up spot, while South Africa’s Ernst van Dyck finished third on 33 points.
Schär also suffered disappointment in London yesterday but she’d already done enough, thanks to wins in London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City in 2017 and at the Tokyo Marathon in 2018 to claim the crown with a maximum 100 points. The USA’s Tatyana McFadden finished runner-up with 98 points with her compatriot Amanada McGrory third on 45 points.
As the four winners gathered to receive their awards, Schär spoke for all of the champions when she said: “It’s been an incredible 12 months; I’m thrilled to be Series XI champion.”
In just the second series for wheelchair athletes, men’s runner-up David Weir added: “I think that the Abbott World Marathon Majors has put the spark back into everyone’s racing, to be honest. Wheelchair athletes are privileged to be included in the Series.
“You can tell on the athletes’ faces when they come to the races that they feel part of a family. For me it’s a dream come true to see us included in the AWMM series.
“I think I planted the seed in their minds a few years ago in New York and they promised me that it would happen, and it has. So, if I can do things like that in the future, and improve the wheelchair division, I’ll be happy. I want to see another generation coming through and making a career out of racing.”
Kipchoge also praised the AWMM set-up, saying: “Abbott World Marathon Majors has done a good job by dividing the prize money so three athletes can win, and by supporting charity projects all over the world.”
Keitany was in a philosophical mood, happy to win her third AWMM title but subdued after her failure to break the mixed-race world record at yesterday’s race.
“Yesterday’s London Marathon was the toughest I’ve ever run. Some days don’t turn out as you expect them to, and yesterday was one of those days. It was tough, but I’m still a champion, and there is always tomorrow,” she said.
“I’m happy I crossed the Finish Line yesterday. I was very tired but I’m still happy that I finished, and I’m also happy that I’ve claimed victory in Series XI today.”
Men’s wheelchair champion Hug agreed with the sentiment, admitting his defeat to Weir will motivate him to train even harder in the future.
“I wasn’t very happy to lose to David yesterday but sometimes it’s good to lose because it highlights the work you need to do. Rivalries are healthy for the sport. I will go home and train harder than ever before – and work on my sprint finish,” he joked.
Kipchoge had the last word, when asked which race he’d target next: “My plans ended yesterday!”
That may be Kipchoge’s line today, but all four champions will be back to defend their crowns when Series XII of the Abbott World Marathon Majors kicks off with the Berlin Marathon on Sunday 16 September.
Series XI Results
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