Eliud Kipchoge lets world record slip through hands in London

Kenyan defends marathon title but misses new mark after early celebration

Eliud Kipchoge ran the second fastest marathon time in history as he retained his London title in the most brilliant and emphatic style. The 31-year-old Kenyan powered away from his compatriot Stanley Biwott after 24 miles before finishing in 2:03:05 – only eight seconds outside the world record.

Kipchoge did not appear to realise he was so close to the record: certainly the way he powered down the Mall suggested he had plenty left in the tank, even after 26.2 miles.

Biwott also ran a personal best in finishing second in 2:03.51. The rest of the much-vaunted field had been blown away. Kenenisa Bekele, the world 5,000-metres and 10,000m record holder, was a long way back in third in 2:06:36.

The race, though, was all about Kipchoge, an athlete talented enough to win 2003 world championship gold over 5,000m as an 18-year-old, and to take Olympic bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008. In the past he has been quick enough to run 3:33 over 1500m. But he is even better over 26.2 miles.


“It was a good course,” he said. ‘The support was perfect – the crowd was fantastic and it was good to get a PB.”

The men’s race set off at a fierce pace, on track for a world record at 10 miles, the fastest half marathon in this event’s history and a world record of 1:27:13 for 30 kilometres. “I realised I ran a world record for 30, but between 30-40km I lost about 20 seconds,” said Kipchoge.

“I knew the record was close. I tried to squeeze it, but it wasn’t possible. “I’m happy I ran a course record. The crowd is what pushed me, it’s a wonderful crowd in London. In every kilometre, except in the tunnel, they cheer you and keep you moving.”

Asylum Scotland's Callum Hawkins outlined his enormous talent by being the first Briton home in 2:10.52, a personal best by nearly two minutes. Hawkins will be joined by Tsegai Tewelde, an Eritrea-born athlete who was granted asylum in Scotland in 2008, who ran 2:12:28, to finish just ahead of Hawkins' brother, Derek. Tewelde bears the scars on his forehead from a landmine that exploded next to him when he was eight and killed his friend.

The Etritrea-born athlete has rarely stopped running since. He claimed asylum in Scotland in 2008 after authorities ruled he was likely to face persecution back home. And in his first marathon, he summoned a performance of immense willpower to run 2:12:23 – a time good enough to qualify for the British team for the Olympics.

When asked what it meant to be representing his new country, the 25-year-old began to gently sob. “I had a bomb accident when I was eight years old,” he said. “I had a serious injury, five places on my body, scar on my head. I’m feeling very very tired after the race but I got through it. I will try my best for Rio.”

In the women’s race Jemima Sumgong sprung a surprise as she recovered from a dramatic fall five miles from the finish to win her first major city marathon.

The 31-year-old Kenyan has been runner-up in Boston, Chicago and New York and was fourth in the world championships last year, but this time she won in 2:22:58, with the 2015 winner Tigist Tufa second, five seconds back.

Serene pace The race had been run at a serene pace, which left all the top contenders in contention, but it erupted into life after 21 miles when Sumgong crashed to the floor while looking at her watch, after being tripped up by Aselefech Mergia.

That fall, which also brought down the pre-race favourite Mary Keitany, left Sumgong rubbing her head. But while Keitany and Mergia struggled to recover, Sumgong was strong enough to pull back a gap of 30m or 40m to the race leaders.

More incredibly, she was soon pushing it on at the front with only Tufa able to challenge her as they ran along the Embankment. Sumgong is not renowned for her sprint finishes but she was strong enough to drive to victory.

Ally Dixon and Sonia Samuels, meanwhile, earned their places in Great Britain's Olympic team for Rio this summer. Dixon finished in 2:31:53 just ahead of Samuels.

David Weir was third in the men's wheelchair race. Marcel Hug of Switzerland won in a time of 1:35.19. Weir was in phlegmatic mood afterwards, insisting he was not fixated on winning his seventh title.

“I think it’s the media that hype it up so much, I don’t think too much about it,” he told BBC Radio Five Live.