Eliud Kipchug as King London Marathon It reached a shocking ending as Shura Kitata emerged from the rain and darkness to become a new champion, after Brigid Kosje defended earlier for the women’s title.
In a surprising surprise, Kipchoge, who had won all four of the previous London Marathons and had not lost a long distance in seven years, slumped alarmingly from a pace of around 22 miles. The 35-year-old world record holder had no answer as a group of seven slipped him out, ending up in eighth place.
Instead, the title was available to the two teams and it was Ethiopian Kitata who snatched it in 2 hours 5 minutes 41 seconds, beating Kenyan Vincent Kipchumba on the streak after a thrilling race finish.
A faster race was expected due to the nature of the track – 19.7 laps from St James’s Park rather than the traditional street route – but the incessant rain and cold temperatures prompted it. With Keninasa Bekele, the great Kipchog competitor, the second fastest marathon runner in history, due to injury, it seemed the stage was ready for a fifth Kenyan victory.
But despite the slow pace, he failed and took full advantage of Kitata, as Kipchog suffered a defeat for the first time since finishing second in Berlin in 2013.
In the women’s race this morning, Cosje comfortably won her duel with fellow Kenyan world champion Ruth Chipngitich, who was eventually surpassed by a second place finish by American Sarah Hall.
Kosgei broke home with seven miles to cross leaving Chepngetich, who seemed stronger in the middle stages of the race, much late. The duo were one minute ahead of their closest competitor midway and looked on to destabilize the women’s only world record by 2 hours 17 minutes and one second.
But as the rains began to rain more difficult, Kosgei’s skipping pace slowed eventually at 2: 18.58, nearly five minutes outside her world record. Set in Chicago last year. “The weather wasn’t good, so we suffered,” Kosge said. “I fought until the moment I finished. We have not prepared well because of the epidemic. I will be ready for good results next year.”
A tired Chepngetich is caught by an amazing late charge from Hall, which she overtakes by just a few steps.
There was disappointment for the two top British candidates, Lily Partridge and Steve Twill, who withdrew long before the end of the match. Instead, the British title went to Natasha Cockram, who finished the race outside the Olympic qualifying mark with a time of 2: 33.19, four seconds behind Naomi Mitchell.
The race, which was originally scheduled to start in April, was adapted to 19.7 laps at St James’ Park instead of the traditional street route, and was limited to elite runners only, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
• Shawn Angel’s full race report to follow