He is the finest marathon runner of all time. That’s about all you can say about Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who essentially led from start to finish at the 39th London Marathon and authored the second-fastest time in history at 2:02:37.
From the start, Kipchoge was part of the lead pack of about nine runners, and never wavered. The group crossed the halfway mark together in 1:01:37, indicating a course record was possible; Kipchoge had the standard at 2:03:05 from his 2016 victory. But the next 5 km winnowed the field, as only Ethiopians Tola Shura Kitata, Mosinet Geremew and Leul Gebresilasie could stay close. Ethiopian Mule Wasihun and British favorite Mo Farah dropped back by five seconds and had to work hard to maintain contact.
Gebresilasie dropped back and Wasihun moved up by 30 km and the top four ran together through the 35 km mark. Now the pressure increased and Kipchoge was able to break everyone except Geremew by 40 km. And then, in marathon terms, the Kenyan turned on the jets, finishing the last 2.2 km in 6:18 compared to 6:33 for Geremew and creating the final 18-second difference at the finish line.
Kipchoge’s 2:02:37 trails only his Berlin world record of 2:01:39 from 2018 and gives him three of the top six performances of all time. He’s now run 12 career marathons and won 11 and has a 10-race winning streak. He’s 34 and shows no signs of slowing down.
Geremew, just 27, was spectacular, too, at 2:02:55, no. 3 ever and a national record, breaking Kenenisa Bekele’s mark of 2:03:03 from 2016. Wasihun finished third in 2:03:16 and moved to seventh on the all-time list.
Kipchoge will also have to talk to his accountant about his tax situation after breaking the bank with his run. He won:
● $55,000 first prize
● $25,000 course record
● $100,000 for a sub-2:05:00 finishing time.
That’s $180,000 for the race. There was a lot of bonus money paid out as the first three finishers all collected the $100,000 time bonus for a sub-2:05 finish and Kitata and Farah both won $75,000 for their sub-2:06 runs.
The women’s race featured an early breakaway from Australia’s 42-year-old Sinead Diver, who ran away from the pack after the 10 km mark and had a 16-second lead at the halfway mark. This couldn’t last for someone who had only broken 2:30 in 2018, right?
She came back to reality after the halfway mark and was eighth and fading by 25 km, leaving a lead pack of seven that included 2017 winner and course-record holder Mary Keitany (KEN). But then Kenyan Brigid Koskei, who had finished first or second in eight of her nine career marathons, took over.
Between 25 km and 30 km, Kosgei dropped a 15:37 bomb on the field and ran away from everyone except defending champ Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN). Kosgei continued with a small lead through 35 km, then ran her fastest split of the race – 15:32 – between 35 km and 40 km and sealed her sixth career win in 10 career marathons.
Kosgei kept motoring to the finish as Cheruiyot lost ground and at the finish, the gap was a startling 1:54 as Kosgei won in 2:18:20, the ninth-fastest time in history, making Kosgei no. 7 all-time, moving just ahead of Cheruiyot on the all-time list! Cheruiyot finished in 2:20:14, and Diver held on to finish seventh in 2:24:11, a lifetime best by more than a minute, making her no. 3 all-time in Australia!
Kosgei won $55,000 for finishing first and a time bonus of $75,000 for running sub-2:20.
The top American finishers included Emily Sisson with a very impressive marathon debut in sixth at 2:23:08 – no. 7 all-time U.S. – and Molly Huddle with a lifetime best in 12th at 2:26:33. The top U.S. man in the race was Colin Leak in 24th at 2:15:02. Summaries:
World Marathon Majors/London Marathon
London (GBR) ~ 28 April 2019
(Full results here)
Men: 1. Eliud Kipchoge (KEN), 2:02:37; 2. Mosinet Geremew (ETH), 2:02:55; 3. Mule Wasihun (ETH), 2:03:16; 4. Tola Shura Kitata (ETH), 2:05:01; 5. Mo Farah (GBR), 2:05:39; 6. Tamirat Tola (ETH), 2:06:57; 7. Bashir Abdi (BEL), 2:07:03; 8. Leul Gebresilasie (ETH), 2:07:15; 9. Yassine Rachik (ITA), 2:08:05; 10. Callum Hawkins (GBR), 2:08:14. Also in the top 25: 24. Colin Leak (USA), 2:15:02.
Women: 1. Brigid Kosgei (KEN), 2:18:20; 2. Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN), 2:20:14; 3. Roza Dereje (ETH), 2:20:51; 4. Gladys Cherono (KEN), 2:20:52; 5. Mary Keitany (KEN), 2:20:58; 6. Emily Sisson (USA), 2:23:08; 7. Sinead Diver (AUS), 2:24:11; 8. Carla Salome Rocha (POR), 2:24:47; 9. Birhane Dibaba (ETH), 2:25:04; 10. Charlotte Purdue (GBR), 2:25:38. Also in the top 25: 12. Molly Huddle (USA), 2:26:33.