- Kiptum shaved off over a minute from the course record
- He was running only his second marathon
- Peres Jepchirchir finished third in the women’s race
Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum ran the second fastest ever marathon in history as he won the London Marathon on Sunday, on the way crushing Eliud Kipchoge’s course record of 2:02:37 set in 2019.
Kiptum, 24, who was running only his second career marathon, put up a superb solo run in the final 15km of the race to win in a time of 2:01:25, only 16 seconds shy of Eliud Kipchoge’s World Record set in Berlin.
Meanwhile, Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir was third in the women’s race, finishing behind Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan who won on her debut in the marathon.
The 24-year old Kiptum was visibly elated with the victory, though he said he hadn’t thought about any record before the race.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m so grateful. My plan was to run maybe 2:03 or 2:02, but I was not thinking about the world record. I was just focused on running a good time. I’ll go back home, have a little rest and talk with my team. Maybe then we will think of the world record,” Kiptum said after the race.
Kiptum made his crucial move 30km into the men’s race, blazing a 5km split of 13:49 between 30km and 35km, plus a 4:23 24th mile, to leave his rivals trailing in his wake. He went on to improve his marathon time by 28 seconds.
Kiptum had put himself right behind the three lead pacemakers in the early stages of the race, running alongside Kenya’s defending champion Amos Kipruto and Ethiopia’s two-time Tokyo Marathon winner Birhanu Legese as the first slightly downhill 5km of the course was covered in 14:30.
Nine strong group of leaders
The nine-strong lead group reached 10km in 29:12 and 15km in 43:51, a split that pointed to a finish time outside 2:03.
But Kiptum had other ideas. He was still to the fore as 20km was reached in 58:31 and he followed the pacemakers through half way in 1:01:40, part of a pack of eight. Bekele had been dropped, and did not finish the race.
Kiptum and Kipruto looked in control as they led through 25km in 1:12:53 and by 30km, Kiptum seemed ready to make his move. The pace was picking up and 30km was reached in 1:27:23 as Kiptum started to string out the field.
Despite missing his drink at the next water station and running with Kamworor right behind him, Kiptum showed little concern and unleashed a kick that proved impossible for his rivals to match. He ran a 4:33 19th mile, then the quickest of the race, to break away, and followed that with a 4:23 20th mile to put himself on course record schedule.
After that 13:49 5km split, Kiptum reached 35km in 1:41:12, 28 seconds ahead of Kamworor. Although the leader kept glancing over his shoulder, there was no threat. Miles of 4:31 and 4:32 followed before a 4:23 24th mile took him to 40km in 1:55:13, almost two minutes clear of his rivals.
With the finish line in sight, Kiptum gritted his teeth and came within 16 seconds of the world record. Kamworor was second in 2:04:23, Tola third in 2:04:23 and Gebresilase fourth in 2:05:45.
In the women’s race, Jepchirchir was third, but the story of the day was that of debutant Sifan hassan of Ethiopia. With 20km gone, she looked to be struggling as she battled her first ever marathon and most pundits said she would stagger off and fail to finish.
Fought to get back into contention
But she fought on to come back into the leading pack. Hassan was 14 seconds behind as Jepchirchir took the leaders through 35km in 1:53:40, but as the tempo dropped slightly, Hassan chased them down, rejoining the front group two hours into the race. As they entered the final few miles, Hassan almost missed the drink station but surged across the road to grab her bottle when she noticed her fellow competitors doing the same.
The pace dipped and it seemed to be a case of who was saving their kick. Megertu and Jepchirchir were side-by-side but Hassan was right on their heels, ready to put some of that track speed into action.
As the trio took the final turn into the home straight, Hassan was ready to pounce. With a look of disbelief on her face, she stormed past Megertu and Jepchirchir and across the finish line, winning by four seconds in 2:18:33.
Megertu held off Jepchirchir to finish one spot higher than in 2022, clocking 2:18:37 for the runner-up place, as Jepchirchir ran 2:18:38 for third. Chepkirui was fourth in 2:18:51, Yehualaw fifth in 2:18:53 and Korir sixth in 2:20:41.
-Additional info courtesy World Athletics.