Eliud Kipchoge defeated at London Marathon, ending historic win streak

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Eliud Kipchoge‘s invincibility is gone.

The greatest marathoner in history lost for the first time in seven years at Sunday’s chilly, rainy London Marathon, ending a streak of 10 straight wins over 26.2 miles.

Kipchoge dropped behind a leading group of six men in the 24th mile and never regained contact, placing eighth in 2:06:49. The Kenyan cited a blockage in his right ear over the last 10 miles and leg and hip cramping but didn’t blame the 50-degree weather.

“At the last five kilometers, I discovered that something is wrong,” said Kipchoge, a 35-year-old who shivered through a thick jacket in a post-race interview. “My legs are not moving. My ear is totally blocked. I tried to keep on with the pace and tried to finish.”

Ethiopian Shura Kitata won in 2:05:42, one second ahead of runner-up Vincent Kipchumba of Kenya.

Kipchoge came into Sunday with 11 wins in his 12 career marathons.

In his last three times racing 26.2 miles, he lowered the world record to 2:01:39 in Berlin in 2018, won his fourth London Marathon title in 2019 in a course record 2:02:37 and became the first person to cover the distance in under two hours. He ran 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible event in Vienna last October.

To put Kipchoge’s 10-marathon streak in perspective, the two other legendary male marathoners, Ethiopians Abebe Bikila and Haile Gebrselassie, topped out at six in a row.

“I’m truly disappointed,” said Kipchoge, known for his calm, philosophical demeanor. “But, all in all, this is sport. Sport is run by today you are up, tomorrow you are down.”

The London Marathon was postponed from its usual April date due to the coronavirus pandemic. The mass race was canceled. On Friday, Kipchoge’s biggest threat, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, withdrew with a calf injury.

Traditionally, runners wind around the River Thames and produce some of the faster times of the six World Marathon Majors.

This year, they were in “a secure biosphere” and completed 19 loops of St. James’s Park without the usual spectator crowds — but cutouts, including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William — before finishing at the usual line at The Mall.

MORE: London Marathon Results

Earlier in the women’s race, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya won easily in 2:18:58. Kosgei, who repeated as London Marathon winner, ran the fastest women’s time in history at the Chicago Marathon last October, a 2:14:04.

American Sara Hall surged in the final half, going from ninth place to second in 2:22:01. a personal best and the eighth-fastest time ever by a U.S. woman. In her last marathon on Feb. 29, Hall went into the Olympic Trials as a contender to make the three-woman team but dropped out in the 23rd mile, calling it “a massive disappointment.”

“This was the moment of redemption,” she said Sunday.

Hall, who edged world champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya by four seconds on Sunday, earned her first World Marathon Major podium. She became the first American runner to make the London Marathon podium since Deena Kastor won in 2006.

“I’m still kind of in shock,” Hall said. “I feel so honored to be enjoying my career the most I ever have at age 37.”

Molly Seidel, who made the Olympic team by placing second at trials in her first marathon, took sixth on Sunday in 2:25:13, which was 2:18 faster than her debut in Atlanta.

MORE: With major marathons canceled, Emily Sisson chose a virtual one

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Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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