Kenyans Dominate at London Marathon
Nairobi — Once again, the might of Kenya’s distance running majesty ruled the streets of London with record holder, Wilson Kipsang and two-time world champion, Edna Kiplagat, completing crushing victories in the men and women races of the blue riband race on Sunday.
Kipsang outlasted dark horse, Stanley Biwott, over the last two kilometres to shatter the course record in the men’s race when he stopped the clock in 2:04:29 for his second London win as the 2012 Paris Marathon winner came home in a lifetime best of 2:04:55.
Earlier, it was third time lucky for Kiplagat who edged out a gruelling battle with compatriot and Berlin champion, Florence Kiplagat to arrive at the tape in 2:20:21, three seconds ahead of her closest challenger as Kenya celebrated the 1-2.
Defending champion and pre-race favourite, Priscah Jeptoo, was forced out at around the 32km with what was reported to be a knee injury.
Kipsang reclaims the crown
With all pre race talk centred on the sparkling debut of British track star, Mo Farah, it was Kipsang, the world record holder (2:03:24) who ran away with the honours by deploying a front running master class in a field that boasted seven of the all time fastest marathoners.
The only major shock was it was Biwott, the veritable outsider, who stuck with the majestic running of the tall thoroughbred but even he could not stop the Berlin winner when he accelerated away for victory with 2km to go.
With a second victory after his maiden triumph in 2012 assured at that point, attention turned to the clock and by what margin he would lower the previous standard set by compatriot Emmanuel Mutai of 2:04:40 in 2011.
In the end, the clock stopped at 2:04:29, an 11 second improvement of the previous route best as Kipsang with Biwott being rewarded with a career best of 2:04:55, the time legend Paul Tergat owned the world record in 2003.
Behind the pair, defending champion Tsegay Kebede led the challengers’ home in third with 2:06:30, a second ahead of compatriot Ayele Abshero in what turned out to be an internal Ethiopian competition for bronze.
As for Farah, hard lessons on respecting the distance were handed out by the frenetic pace Kipsang set about attacking the course from the start as he finished eighth in 2:08:21, well outside his prime target of breaking the 29 year-old British record of 2:07:13 set by Mike Jones in 1989.
Former world marathon record holder, Ethiopian legend, Haile Gebrselassie, was among those signed up to pace the British star in a strategy that involved keeping Farah some distance behind the main contenders before attacking from behind.
“I will be back,” Farah told the BBC. “I’m not going to finish it like this. I gave it my all but I’m disappointed I didn’t go out there and give what the crowd deserve.”
“It was pretty tough. I’m disappointed but you try things and sometimes it doesn’t work, but you have to give it a go. You learn — life goes on,” he added.
Edna edges Kiplagats’ battle
With the spotlight on the maiden bow over the 42.195Km by Ethiopian track queen, Tirunesh Dibaba, commanding the headlines, the last ten kilometres turned out to be an intriguing battle between namesakes Edna and Florence Kiplagat.
It was the two-time champion, who finished third in the 2012 event before going a place better last year, who out sprinted her younger compatriot to breast the tape in 2:20:20 as the Berlin champion who came to race after breaking the world half marathon record four seconds in arrears.
Tirunesh, the multiple Olympics and world champion finished a respectable third after stopping at a water point at 35km that knocked some of the pace out of her in 2:20:35.
Jeptoo who was in the reckoning suddenly pulled out as the came for the last ten in what was reported to be a knee injury.
1. Kipsang, Wilson (KEN) 2:04:29
2. Biwott, Stanley (KEN) 2:04:55
3. Kebede, Tsegaye (ETH) 2:06:30
4. Abshero, Ayele (ETH) 2:06:31
5. Mekonnen, Tsegaye (ETH) 2:08:06
6. Mutai, Geoffrey (KEN) 2:08:18
7. Mutai, Emmanuel (KEN) 2:08:19
8. Farah, Mo (GBR) 2:08:21
9. Lilesa, Feyisa (ETH) 2:08:26
10. Vail, Ryan (USA) 2:10:57
1. Kiplagat, Edna (KEN) 2:20:21
2. Kiplagat, Florence (KEN) 2:20:24
3. Dibaba, Tirunesh (ETH) 2:20:35
4. Tadese, Feyse (ETH) 2:21:42
5. Kebede, Aberu (ETH) 2:23:21
6. Augusto, Jessica (POR) 2:24:25
7. Gamera-Shmyrko, Tetyana (UKR) 2:25:30
8. Felix, Ana Dulce (POR) 2:26:46
9. Gelana, Tiki (ETH) 2:26:58
10. Kovalenko, Liudmyla (UKR) 2:31:31