Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge stormed to a record-breaking fourth victory in the London Marathon on Sunday with the second-fastest time ever seen over the distance, as India’s Nitendra Singh Rawat finished 27th in the elite field.
Rawat, who has qualified for the World Championships to be held in Doha in September-October, clocked 2 hours 15 minutes and 59 seconds to take the 27th spot. This was his second fastest time this season and fourth fastest in his career.
The 32-year-old Rawat had won the Mumbai Marathon early this year with a time of 2:15:52, which booked him a berth in the World Championships (qualifying time 2:16:00). His best in this event was 2:15:18 that he registered in Guwahati three years ago while winning the South Asian Games title.
He had expressed his desire to break Shivnath Singh’s longest standing national marathon record of 2:12:00 but could not do so in a top class field in London.
Olympic champion Kipchoge’s time of two hours two minutes and 37 seconds was second only to the 2:01:39 he ran in Berlin last year.
The 34-year-old, whose previous London triumphs came in the 2015, 2016 and 2018 editions, was in imperious form as he powered ahead from the 14-mile mark, with Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew and Mule Wasihun second and third respectively.
“I’m happy to win on the streets of London for the fourth time and to make history, on a day that the event has raised £1 billion (for charity),” Kipchoge told the BBC.
“The crowd in London is wonderful and that spirit pushed,” added Kipchoge, who has now won 11 of the 12 marathons he’s contested.
Asked where he would run next, he replied: “As usual, I do not chase two rabbits, I only chase one and that was London. I have caught that rabbit so I will discuss with my team what follows.”
Farah fifth after Gebrselassie row
Britain’s Mo Farah, whose build-up to race day was overshadowed by an extraordinary row with distance great Haile Gebrselassie over an alleged robbery in a hotel owned by the Ethiopian great, could not cope with the pace as he finished in fifth place.
Gebrselassie responded to Farah’s allegations by saying the four-time Olympic champion and his entourage had featured “multiple reports of disgraceful conduct”. Farah was adamant the row had not hampered his preparations.
“It didn’t distract me at all,” he insisted. “What I said is the truth and it was all about the London Marathon today. I didn’t mean to take any limelight away from the sport... Had I won the race, it would have been a different story, but I think I will take time to think about the next step.”
Reflecting on the race itself, Farah said: “My aim was to follow the pacemaker, but after 20 miles when he dropped out, the gap opened up and it became hard to close. My aim was to try and reel them back but the wheels came off and I was hanging in there.”
Farah, who insisted “I will be back” then paid a generous tribute to Kipchoge. “Congratulations to Eliud and the better man won today. He is a very special athlete and he is humble. If Eliud can run those sort of times it just gives us another level of possibility.”
There was also a Kenyan winner in the women’s race, Brigid Kosgei going one better than last year in London to lead the field in a time 2:18:20.
Victory saw Kosgei, at the age of 25 years and 67 days, become the youngest winner of the women’s race, breaking the London record of Aselefech Mergia (25 years and 92 days) set in 2010.
Kosgei’s compatriot Vivian Cheruiyot was second on Sunday, in after beating Kosgei to finish first in London last year. Kosgei left the rest of the elite women’s field behind her with a blistering second half of the race.
Cheruiyot was initially able to stay with her when Kosgei made a break at the 20-mile mark but could not maintain the pace and drifted away some four miles from the finish. Daniel Romanchuk of the United States won the men’s wheelchair race in 1:33:38, just ahead of experienced Swiss competitor Marcel Huig.
But there was a Swiss win in the women’s wheelchair event, with Manuela Schar first in 1:44:09 – more than five minutes clear of Tatyana McFadden of the United States.
(With AFP and PTI inputs)