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London Marathon: Kipchoge suffers rare defeat

October 04, 2020 16:10 IST
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Ethiopia's Kitata sprints to London Marathon win as Kipchoge suffers rare defeat

Shura Kitata

IMAGE: Ethiopia's Shura Kitata wins the elite men's race. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Reuters

Ethiopian Shura Kitata outsprinted Kenya's Vincent Kipchumba to win a thrilling London Marathon, on Sunday, as a stunned world record holder Eliud Kipchoge faded late in the race to suffer his first defeat since 2013.

In cold, wet conditions, 24-year-old Kitata edged clear in the final metres to win by one second over Kipchumba in a relatively slow two hours, 05.41 minutes.


Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia was third in 2:5.35, with Kipchoge, the hot favourite, who in his last race a year ago became the only man to break the two hour mark for the distance, eighth in 2:06.49 having suffered cramp and a blocked ear.

In the absence of injured Kenenisa Bekele, Kipchoge was widely expected to lift a fifth London crown but was never able to impose his usual speed in the relentless cold rain.

He was in a pack who went through halfway in just under 63 minutes - very pedestrian in relation to his recent races, not least his official world record of 2:01.39 set in Berlin two years ago.

Ethiopians Lemma and Tamirat Tola, both sporting woollen hats to stave off the cold, took up the running as the field began to realize that, perhaps, Kipchoge was struggling.

They were right. The favourite, whose face never usually gives any indication of suffering, was showing the occasional grimace and he lacked his usual smoothness.

At one point the leaders clocked a five minute mile, a virtual jog at elite level. Then, as never previously seen during his all-conquering career, Kipchoge, 35, broke, dropping back from a pack of six with just over three miles to go.

As the pace eventually picked up it was down to three, shoulder to shoulder, as they entered The Mall in a finish more like an 800m race than a marathon. The tall Kipchumba looked as if he would do it as he edged ahead, but Kitata fought back magnificently to take the tape.

Kitata, who finished second in London in 2018, thanked his missing compatriot for his victory. "Kenenisa Bekele was helping me for this race and he advised me how to run," he said. "I trained for the same course, I am very happy to win."

Kipchoge had won 12 of his 13 previous marathons – the blip being a second place behind a then-world record in his second outing over the distance in Berlin in 2013.

"I'm really disappointed, I had a problem with my right ear after it blocked, and then I really cramped and had problems with my hip from about the last 15 km," he said.

"It's really cold but I don't blame the conditions and I'm still there to come back again."

Earlier, Kenyan world record holder Brigid Kosgei was a comfortable winner of the women's race in 2:18.58 as American Sara Hall produced a great finish to snatch second from Ruth Chepngetich.

The races, originally postponed from April because of the COVID-19 pandemic, were run over almost 20 laps of a fenced-off course in a "controlled secure biosphere" around St James's Park.

Although there was no mass field this year, around 40,000 people are running the distance at venues of their choice through the day. They will receive official finisher’s medals and raise millions of pounds for charities hard hit by the cancellation of the April race.

Kosgei cruises to London Marathon win in the rain

London Marathon

IMAGE: Kenya's Brigid Kosgei celebrates after winning the elite women's race of the London Marathon as she poses with second place Sara Hall of the US and third placed Kenya's Ruth Chepngetich. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Reuters

Kenyan world record holder and defending champion Brigid Kosgei cruised to a dominant victory in the 40th London Marathon on Sunday, overcoming her rivals on an unfamiliar multi-lap course in relentless rain to triumph in two hours, 18.58 minutes.

Running her first marathon since setting the world record of 2:14.04 in Chicago a year ago, Kosgei ran alongside compatriot Ruth Chepngetich until around the 20-mile mark, when she forged clear to open a lead of about 50 metres within a couple of minutes.

She then ran strongly for the rest of the race to finish around three minutes clear.

American Sara Hall produced an incredible finish, wiping out a huge deficit over the last few hundred metres to sweep past world champion Chepngetich almost on the line to finish in 2:22.01 to the Kenyan's 2:22.05.

Wrapped in a huge coat at the finish area, the tiny Kosgei said it had been a tough day. "It was wonderful to race but we haven't been able to prepare well because of COVID, and because of the weather today it was a struggle up to the moment I finished," she said.

The race, originally postponed from April because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was run over 19.8 laps of a fenced-off course in a "controlled secure biosphere" around St James's Park, with the finish line in its traditional place on The Mall.

Hall's remarkable sprint finish meant she bettered her personal best by 15 seconds and meant she had 15,000 dollars to donate to the Ethiopian children's charity she is supporting with all her prize money. Kosgei won 30,000 dollars.

Eliud Kipchoge is the red-hot favourite to win the men's race on the same course later on Sunday after his main rival Kenenisa Bekele withdrew on Friday with a calf injury.

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