Kipchoge Runs Masterfully To Take London Marathon Victory
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge maintained his dominance over 42.2km with another masterful display to win the London Marathon on Sunday. The 33-year-old clocked 2:04:17 in balmy weather to finish 32 seconds clear of runner-up Tola Shura Kitata of Ethiopia, with local hero Mo Farah battling to third in a British record of 2:06:21.
The early splits – 13:48 at five kilometres and 28:19 at 10 kilometres – had suggested a finishing time well inside two hours, but the pace soon settled and the pacemakers hit their target by passing through halfway in exactly 1:01:00 with seven runners still within three seconds of the lead.
Kipchoge, the reigning Olympic champion who has not lost a marathon since 2013, put himself in pole position, but with temperatures in the high 20s and the sun beating down, it was always likely his contenders would fall to pieces from trying to go with him.
After the pacers stepped aside at 22 kilometres, it was left to Kipchoge to continue the chase of Dennis Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57. One by one, his rivals fell away over the kays that followed, and at 32 kilometres just one remained – the unheralded Tola Shura Kitata.
Farah, competing in just his second marathon, was hanging on several seconds back. But the Briton showed his inexperience at the early drinks stations, missing his bottle at 10K and 20K, which cost him valuable seconds and saw him discuss the issue with a race official on a nearby motorbike.
“It was a bit annoying,” he said. “Me and the other athlete from Ethiopia had the exact same bottle, and they were on the same table. When I was trying to grab my drink I was grabbing his drink, and he was grabbing my drink.”
Approaching kilometre 32, it became clear the world record was slipping out of reach, with Kipchoge’s average kilometre pace slipping, but he still had a race on his hands with Kitata stalking his every step.
Only in the 39th kilometre did Kipchoge finally make a break, opening an advantage as he reached London’s Embankment. Though he was slowing with every kilometre – his last five kilometres were run in 14:30, the opening three covered in 13:15 – he looked serene as he turned for home, crossing the line near Buckingham Palace in 2:04:17 to win his eighth straight marathon.
“It was a beautiful race, winning for the third time,” said Kipchoge, who revealed he wasn’t affected by the conditions. “I can’t complain about the weather, it was the same for all 40,000 competitors.”
For any rivals who hoped the 33-year-old Kipchoge may now rest on his laurels, he said after the race that he won’t be getting carried away with his victory.
“When you perform well, you respect the win and you enjoy it with your family and colleagues,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll celebrate; I have celebrated here by inspiring many people.”
Kitata came in at 2:04:49, a PR by 61 seconds.
The biggest cheers of the day were reserved for Farah, who struggled home over the closing kilometres to clock 2:06:21, taking almost a minute off Steve Jones’s British record of 2:07:13.
It was a different kind of fatigue for the former track star, who has won four Olympic gold medals over 5,000 and 10,000 metres. “It was a lot more pain,” he said. “That was the most painful, but I managed to hang in there and come away with a personal best. I can’t ask more than that.”
He conceded today that despite coming up short against Kipchoge, he had no regrets about going with him.
“Eliud is a great marathoner who has experience, and today was one of those things: You be a man, fight like a man, or start off in the back and regret later on. You’ve got to fight, and today I managed to fight,” he said.
Kipchoge, meanwhile, was hesitant to say what will come next, but given his PR of 2:03:05 is just eight seconds off the world record, it’s likely he will target that later this year.
“Where I come from, we say you choose only one rabbit to chase because otherwise you catch none. For now I have no plan.”
His run proved a demonstration of the philosophy he’d followed throughout his career, one he repeated shortly after the race: “My message,” he said, “is that no human is limited.”
This article originally appeared on runnersworld.com.