Eliud Kipchoge repeatedly motioned for his so-called challengers to share the work at the front of the London Marathon. None dared.
So the 34-year-old Kenyan cranked up the pace and smiled en route to the second-fastest marathon in history, padding his argument as the greatest of all time on Sunday.
Kipchoge clocked 2:02:37, trailing only his world record 2:01:39 set in Berlin on Sept. 16. It’s his record-extending 10th straight elite marathon win and record-breaking fourth title in London, routinely featuring the toughest fields of the spring marathon season.
“It feels strange to be considered the most successful elite man in racing,” Kipchoge said, according to race organizers. “It was a very tactical race as everyone was there, but I know how to win this race, and I was confident and didn’t feel it was in doubt at any point.”
Kipchoge ran away from Ethiopians Mosinet Geremew and Mule Wasihun in the last two miles, beating them by 18 and 39 seconds, respectively. Four-time Olympic track champion Mo Farah was fifth in what he called a disappointing 2:05:39.
Kenyan Brigid Kosgei became the youngest woman to win London in 2:18:20, upsetting countrywomen Vivian Cheruiyot (second, 2:20:14) and Mary Keitany (fifth, 2:20:58).
MORE: London Marathon Results
Kipchoge is inching closer to doubling the win streaks of history’s other legendary marathoners. Ethiopians Abebe Bikila and Haile Gebrselassie each won six straight, according to Tilastopaja.org. Bikila has one accolade that Kipchoge does not — back-to-back Olympic titles — which Kipchoge can rectify in Tokyo next year.
Kosgei, a 25-year-old mom, was second to Cheruiyot in London last year, then won October’s Chicago Marathon for her first major crown. On Sunday, she posted the fastest second half of a women’s marathon in history (66:42) to become the seventh-fastest woman in history.
Emily Sisson was sixth in 2:23:08, the second-fastest debut marathon in U.S. women’s history.
“We wanted to run faster, ideally, but given the conditions and the way the race went out, I think that was a good performance,” Sisson told media, noting the relatively slow early pace and a windy second half. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Two-time U.S. Olympian Molly Huddle took 12th in 2:26:33, a personal best by 11 seconds, but a disappointing one.
“I felt rough from, like, 10K on, like my legs were just really achy today,” Huddle told LetsRun.com. “Sometimes you have bad days in the marathon.”
Sisson and Huddle are among a large group of U.S. Olympic hopefuls, also including Jordan Hasay, Des Linden, Amy Cragg and, should she continue racing, Shalane Flanagan. The top three at trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 are in line to make the Tokyo team.
In Sunday’s wheelchair divisions, American Daniel Romanchuk added his first London title to Chicago, New York City and Boston crowns in the last year. The 21-year-old pulled away from Swiss Marcel Hug in the last half-mile and won by four seconds in 1:33:38.
Swiss Manuela Schar earned her second London title in 1:44:09, distancing American Tatyana McFadden by 5:33.
London marked the final major marathon of the spring. The fall season begins in Berlin on Sept. 29.
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