LONDON • Ethiopian Shura Kitata out-sprinted Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba to win a thrilling London Marathon yesterday 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 2hr 5min 41sec. Favourite Kipchoge, who in his last race a year ago became the only man to break the two-hour mark for the distance, was 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 third straight London title and fifth overall but was never able to impose himself 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 – and not least to 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 realise that, perhaps, Kipchoge was struggling. They were right.
The 35-year-old, 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 broke, dropping back from a pack of six at the 38km mark of the 42.195km race.
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.
Kipchumba looked as if he would do it as he edged ahead, but Kitata fought back to take the tape.
Kitata, who finished second in London in 2018, thanked his absent compatriot for his win. “Kenenisa Bekele was helping me for this race and he advised me how to run,” he said. “I trained for the same course, I’m very happy to win.”
Kenenisa Bekele was helping me for this race and he advised me how to run.
SHURA KITATA , London Marathon winner on his fellow Ethiopian distance runner, absent here due to injury, giving him valuable pointers.
BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE
I’m really disappointed… It’s really cold but I don’t blame the conditions.
ELIUD KIPCHOGE, world-record marathon holder on his failure to win his third straight title and fifth overall in London yesterday.
Kipchoge had won 12 of his 13 previous marathons – the blip being a second-placed finish 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 weather was not good, so we struggled,” the 26-year-old Kosgei said after retaining her title. “I struggled up to the moment I finished. We have not prepared well due to the pandemic.”
The races, originally postponed from April because of the Covid-19 pandemic, were run over 19 laps of a fenced-off course in a “controlled secure biosphere” around St James’ Park.
Although there was no mass field this year, around 40,000 people ran the distance virtually to raise millions of pounds for charities and will receive official finisher’s medals.