Brigid Kosgei demonstrated an amazing sense of timing to utterly and completely demolish the women’s field at the 2019 Virgin Money Women’s London Marathon on Sunday to cut the tape in an amazingly quick 2:18:20, with Vivian Cheruiyot, the 2018 London Marathon champion, coming in second at 2:20:14.
Rosa Dereje came in third to spoil the Kenyan party, beating Gladys Cherono and Mary Keitany to fourth and fifth respectively.
Billed as the most competitive roster ever assembled in London Women Marathon history, the start list read like a who’s who in road running.
Brigid Kosgei, who has now finished in the top two in eight of the nine marathons she has participated in, appeared the underdog at the start, with the runaway favourite being Mary Keitany, the 2018 New York City Marathon champion and the woman with the fastest time in the world outside Paula Radcliffe’s World Record with a time of 2:17:01 as her personal best.
Gladys Cherono, the three-time Berlin Marathon champ capped off a stellar cast of Kenyan athletes the likes of which have never before assembled at once at the start of any marathon.
With the weather near perfect, the race kicked off and immediately petered to an astonishingly slow pace with the star athletes evidently in awe of each other and waiting on each other to make the first move.
And so, for the first half hour Keitany, Kosgei, Cheruiyot and Cherono were content to run behind the lead group of athletes with Dibaba and Deroji falling in behind the lead pacesetter Eunice Chuma.
With the pace seemingly underwhelming, it took the guts of the incredibly brave 42-year-old Sinead Diver to take the race by the scruff of the neck and build a five-yard lead with 39:33mins lapsed, and stretching the lead such that by 1:08:43 into the race she had built a 30-second gap over the rest of the athletes with Keitany, Kosgey, Cheruiyot, Cherono and Deroji not even attempting to reel in the runaway frontrunner.
However, at 1:18:52, Vivian Cheruiyot had waited enough and finally started to chase the lead group catching up and overtaking Sinead Diver but sticking behind the lead lone pacesetter Eunice Chuma, who until now was doing a stellar job in pace making.
At 1:25:38 it’s Vivian Cheruiyot, Bridgid Kosgei, Deroji and Mary Keitany in that order behind the pacemaker Eunice Chuma.
However, the first signs of fallibility begin to emerge at 1:32:33, with 9.3 miles left to go, when Mary Keitany and Gladys Cherono are unable to keep up with the pace and fall back with Cheruiyot, Deroje and Brigid Kosgey opening an unassailable lead.
Brigid Kosgei, who recently ran the Houston Half Marathon in 65:15 and the Bahrain marathon in 65:20, seemingly feels confident enough to try and bludgeon Vivian Cheruiyot with fast times, with Deroje hanging on afraid to let go. However Vivian Cheruiyot is having none of it, and tucks in behind Brigid, matching her stride for stride.
Two minutes later, evidence of Brigid’s punishing pace begin to show as Deroje is finally broken and falls back with the lead steadily increasing such that by the time its 1:35:00, Deroje is well and truly out of contention and has to watch her back as Gladys Cherono and Mary Keitany find her in their crosshairs.
Up front, Brigid Kosgei is relentless, once again pushing the pace further, asking questions of the defending champ until slowly but surely a gap begins to emerge, increase steadily from five yards to 10 yards, until seemingly for the first time in the entire race, Vivian Cheruiyot no longer seems infallible. Its 1:37:35 on the clock.
At 1:39:45, Brigid Kosgei crosses 30Km with projections showing she is inside 2:20.
Thereafter, Brigid delivers an additional injection of pace, opening a reasonable gap on Vivian by 1:42:02, but the champion decides she’s not done just yet and pulls back such that five minutes later, Vivian has closed the gap and is right behind Brigid matching her stride for stride, in what is evidently developing into an examination of mental attrition.
With 6.2 miles to go and 1:50:00 having lapsed, Brigid is still in the lead unable to shake off Vivian, and it begins to seem probable that this will be decided eventually by a sprint finish.
With exactly two hours lapsed it becomes evident that Vivian’s fitness isn’t up to scratch, as the 25-year-old Brigid finally manages to break her compatriot, quickly opening a 25-metre lead in less than three minutes to herself as the likely winner.
By the time 2:04:00 has lapsed, Brigid looking over her shoulder can no longer see Vivian, having developed a significant gap, having evidently delivered the sucker punch.
Meanwhile, it’s a duel for third between Keitany, Cherono and Deroji.
With 10 minutes to go, the race is now Brigid Kosgei’s to lose. Further back, Vivian is no longer in contention but in a fight for second as Keitany, Cherono and Deroji are joint for third.
Brigid is on the verge of the biggest win of her career and is still relentless on the pace. Last year she was second in London, and this will be an upgrade coupled with a sweet feeling of revenge over Vivian, who beat her here last year.
Coming up on Paula Radcliffe’s insurmountable world record with 2:15:02 having lapsed, Brigid is on course to better her time in Chicago having built an unassailable lead.
And finally, after a painful 26.2 miles, Brigid comes across the line to win and better her personal best in a time of 2:18:20!
Vivian comes in second in 2:20:14 while Deroja is third at 2:20:50. Gladys Cherono comes in fourth with Mary Keitany coming in fifth.
In what is certain to go down in history as one of the most emphatic displays of excellence and mastery of a sporting discipline, Eliud Kipchoge Sunday served up an astonishing display of poise, elegance, endurance and killer instinct to settle any lingering doubts as to his four year reign as the world number one marathoner and well and truly cement his status as the widely acclaimed and universally accepted Greatest Marathoner Of All Time.
In a quest to test the mettle of the returning champ, the race organizers conspired to assemble one of the most competitive rosters in London Marathon history by providing the most attractive appearance package of any of the six marathon events that comprise the Abbot World Marathon Majors, with several all-star elite athletes having run under 2:05:00.
And so, on a bright Sunday morning with near perfect weather and low humidity, almost no wind and no indication of rain, over 40,000 competitors lined up at Greenwich Park at the start of the 2019 edition of The Virgin Money London Marathon with no less than half a dozen pacesetters and elite athletes.
The line-up boasted local homeboy and fan favorite Mo Farah; the Chicago Marathon champion, Eliud Kipchoge; the reigning Olympic champion and world record holder as well as three time London Marathon champ, Shura Kitata; last year’s runner-up here, among others such as Daniel Wanjiru; the 2017 champ here, not to mention Wilson Kipsang; the former world record holder, Ethiopians Mosinet Geremew; the current Dubai Marathon champ, Leul Gebresallesie; the Valencia Marathon course record holder, as well as Tamirat Tola to cap off one of the strongest Ethiopian contingents assembled here in recent times.
Donning his trademark arm sleeves, Kipchoge immediately set the tone for the race, tucking in neatly behind the triumvirate of pacesetters in zebra stripe kits, with Tamirat Tola, Leul Gebresilasie, Mule Wasihun, Daniel Wairimu, Shura Kitata, Wilson Kipsang and Mosinet Geremew huddled together right beside the Olympic champ.
Mo’Farah, evidently with his own set of pacemakers immediately decided to fall back onto his own pace, a pattern he would eventually maintain for the first half of the race.
Coming up on 5km, the pace immediately seems fast but underneath WR pace, with the time stamp at 5K indicating 14:23minutes had elapsed. If news filtering in before the race was to be believed, it was agreed that Kipchoge wanted a pace that would be within the course record which he currently owns at 2:03:05. Indications were that he wanted a 61:30 time for the first half of the race. It is worthwhile to note that during his WR breaking endeavor, Kipchoge’s first half split was 61:06, whereas Denis Kimetto’s WR first half split was 61:45.
Four miles into the race and with the time stamp indicating 16:05mins, Kipchoge seems to have established a rhythm, and surges ahead and to his right and picks up a drink from the adjacent drink station, with Kipsang, Kitata and Gebremew stepping up the pace in an apparent state of panic.
Coming up on 10K the pace has settled with the lead group evidently too scared to grab the lead but content to latch onto Kipchoge, who is never two feet behind the three pacesetters forming a protective trifecta in front of him.
At 10K the time is 29:01, indicating a 14:39 last 5K split and an average of 2:55mins per km over the distance covered. Projections indicate the lead group is within 2:03:00 pace, well within the reigning champ’s objective.
Disappointingly, half an hour into the race Mo’ Farah is already lagging more than 10 metres behind the lead group in 9th place with his own set of pacesetters evidently under a different set of instructions from the lead group effectively ending the hyped up contest that had been used to whip up emotion and generate viewership. It would take an amazing sense of mental fortitude or an incurable sense of mental delusion to imagine that Eliud Kipchoge would slacken the pace and allow the Briton to catch up, if past experience is anything to go by (Kipchoge runs negative splits most of the time either half of the marathon).
Coming up on 15K nothing has changed, with the lead firmly in Eliud Kipchoge’s grasp behind the zebra-striped pacesetters. He crosses 15K in 43:42mins, indicating a last 5K split of 14:42. Projections still indicate the lead group are inside the course record and currently under 2:03:00 pace, indicating that Kimetto’s 2:02:57 previous WR time is attainable.
Comparatively the splits for this race compared to Kipchoge’s and Kimetto’s previous WR times were:
Thus, with 15K lapsed, the lead group are already six seconds outside the world record pace, but 25 seconds inside Kimetto’s pace which, then, eventually resulted in a time of 2:02:57, implying if they maintained or bettered Kimetto’s pace for the remainder of the race then the course record of 2:03:05 would be smashed to smithereens.
The marathon is an exact science.
With three quarters of an hour gone, Mo Farah is still playing it safe with the second group of pacesetters 10meters behind the lead group and holding steady, while Kipchoge is relentlessly pushing the pacemakers with the morning mint scent of his toothpaste breathing down their necks.
The Ethiopian contingent for the first time seem to be teaming up in a five man attack going stride for stride while maintaining the slightest distance required not to trip the world record holder.
Wilson Kipsang begins to wilt under the unforgiving pace. Perhaps he made an error in judgement and should have hung back just like he did in Berlin last year which earned him a deserved podium place, coming in third. At this point it doesn’t matter because it’s too late, he begins to fall back and by the hour mark, Kipsang is no longer in contention, and his famous long stride length counts for nothing as Mo Farah easily leaves him for dead.
The lead group crosses 20K at 58:25 indicating a 14:43 last 5K.
Approaching the halfway point the lead group now consists of the pacesetters, Kipchoge and the Ethiopian contingent, with Mo’ Farah still hanging on for dear life.
The lead group crosses halfway in 61:37 indicating they are 8 seconds inside Kimetto’s time (Kimetto’s half had been 61:45), and at least sixteen seconds inside the course record, assuming they maintain or better Kimetto’s pace.
Ominously, Kipchoge has previously been quoted as saying the marathon begins after 30kms.
Up until this point the Kenyan maestro seems unfettered, seemingly unflinching, bringing to bear a punishing training regimen regularly imbued at his training camp, Global Sports Management at Kaptagat, deep within the belly of the Kenyan Rift Valley.
With his face giving no indication of the pressure of incumbency on his shoulders, and the Ethiopian attack battalion forming a vulture like wait and see attitude, pushing the envelope while daring the champ by appearing in his peripheral vision every so often, waiting, bidding for a moment of weakness to expose the chink in his armor, just reminding him not to forget that they’re there, while trying to force him into a mistake. Accelerate too early, or slow the pace, and we’ll pounce.
But for every question asked, Kipchoge duly delivered the answer. Never once relinquishing the lead, content to go stride for stride with the pacesetters, sometimes coming abreast and motioning them to speed up.
To his credit, Mo Farah, with the time stamp indicating 1:06:20 has managed to reel in the lead group and is now right behind the rear of the lead group, but in doing so to recover the 10meters seems to have used up his energy reserves, and with his last remaining pacesetter seemingly wilting under the pressure, Mo Farah begins to flounder, with no straws left to clutch.
Approaching 25K the lead group is down to five, with one pacesetter left, the rest having dropped off. With the time stamp indicating 1:10:50 having lapsed, its Kipchoge right behind the pacesetter with Shura Kitata, last year’s runner-up in this event now abreast of Kipchoge but always half a stride behind, with Mule Wasihun, Leul Gebresellasie and Mosinet Geremew content to conceal their venom until when it matters most to deliver the legendary potent final kick that Ethiopians are famous for, having been handed down from the great Haile Gabreselassie and Kenenisa Bekele to countless Kenyan elite athletes before Kipchoge, Paul Tergat chief among them.
The lead group crosses 25K in 1:12:38 indicating a last 5K split of 14:14 and a last KM average split of 2:50, down from an average of 2:55 for the first 20K, indicating a subtle injection of pace as the last pacemaker drops off leaving Eliud Kipchoge to take the reins of leadership with the Ethiopian battalion in tow.
You do not win 11 marathons out of 12 by being benevolent. It takes a wolf with the mentality of the jungle to recognize that the rule of the jungle is you always fight to the death, because when it comes down to the prize giving ceremony, the winner standing on the podium is the nastiest, fiercest, most vicious, calculating and unforgiving competitor among the crew. There’s no award for sissies.
And so when the last pacemaker dropped off, Eliud Kipchoge, cognizant of the quadruple threat now circling in for the kill in the form of Kitata, Wasihun, Gebreselasie and Mosinet Geremew, gently but firmly subtly increased the pace, while keeping well within his limits. At first it seemed like an effort in futility as the Ethiopians refused to let go of his coattails.
With twelve miles to go the field of 40000 contestants is down to five with the homeboy Mo Farah in no man’s land down in sixth running alone with no one in sight and the likes of Kipsang long forgotten in the context of being in contention.
With one and a quarter hours gone, Kipchoge’s efforts finally begin to bear fruit as Leul Gebresellasie begins to wither, with the lead group ever so slightly pulling away, leaving a desperate sense of inevitability as to the fate that might befall the remaining trio that was once part of the Ethiopian Battalion.
At 1:19:43 there’s only 10miles left to go, and its Kipchoge, Wasihun, Geremew and Kitata left to slug it out.
At 30K the time is 1:27:04 indicating a 14:27 time split for the last 5K and an average pace of 2:54 per Km.
Surprisingly Mo Farah comes back from the dead in true Easter spirit, catching up with Leul Gebresellasie who is reeling from the effects of trying to keep up with the lead group’s relentless pace. Mo duly overtakes the Ethiopian and is now in fifth. It begins to seem likely that Mo Farah might be in contention to break his European Record 2:05:11 that he established in his Chicago triumph last year.
At 1:40:24 it’s Kipchoge, Geremew, Kitata, Wasihun in that order with Mo further back and Gebresellasie floundering in sixth with the potential to drop further as others behind him begin to see him in their crosshairs.
Kipchoge grabs a drink at 1:41:42 as he approaches 35K.
Its 1:41:55 at 35K, projecting a finishing time under 2:03:00, and still inside Kimetto’s time 2:02:57. Kipchoge’s last 5K split is 14:52, for the first time in the entire race losing a significant pace over Kimetto’s whose last 5K split at 35K was 14:10, indicating a 42second loss which however is negated by the cushion built over the first 30K.
Seemingly realizing the imminent nature of the final phase of the race, over the next 5K Kipchoge ups the tempo, delivering a flurry of speed to split 14:26 over the distance, effectively crossing 40K with the time indicating 1:56:20.
And the effects begin to show, with Shura Kitata tiring and falling back within five minutes of the injection of pace breaking his resolve.
Approaching the 40K mark Wasihun throws in the towel, and falls back after Kipchoge emphatically slams the gas and runs a 2:52 kilometer to effectively shake off the Ethiopian.
Having crossed the 40K mark, Kipchoge is left with Geremew but not for long, as the Kenyan maestro effortlessly digs into his inexhaustible energy reserves and ever so slightly delivers the sucker punch. He runs astonishing 2:52s in succession. And Geremew is left for dead as he drifts off to the left.
Kipchoge for the first time in the entire race glances to his rear left to see what the Ethiopian can muster, and as if to say goodbye, opens up the pace further with his arms pumping in rhythm, his torso barely moving, as his legs springing effortlessly off the asphalt now embarking on the final phase of his mission, the course record.
Over the remaining distance after 40K until the finish Kipchoge never once diminishes the pace delivering 2:52 per Km for the rest of the race. With the course record surely within reach barring a catastrophe, Kipchoge grimaces for the first time, and in an apparent sense of fortitude and resilience brings out a grin which resembles a smile because the entire field is broken, and as he turns the final bend and sees Buckingham Palace in the horizon with the finish line beckoning ahead of him, he summons one last gear as he covers the last 600meters seeing the time counting down.
Lapping up the adulation of the crowd lining the final stretch Eliud Kipchoge breaks out into a smile and outstretches his arms as he crosses the finish line in 2:02:37 to smash the course record! He becomes the first man to win The London Marathon four times.
Mosinet Geremew comes in second in 2:02:55, inside the previous course record!
Mule Wasihun comes in third in 2:03:16 with Shura Kitata fourth in 2:05:01 and Mo Farah fifth in 2:05:39, 28seconds outside the European Record.
For his troubles, Eliud Kipchoge is set to receive $55,000 prize money for finishing in first place and $25,000 for breaking the course record. In addition, he will share $100,000 dollars with Mosinet Geremew and Mule Wasihun for running under 2:05:00 effectively receiving $33,333, they can keep the change.
The Dilemma: Does Mosinet Geremew’s 2:02:55 also receive the $25,000 prize money for the course record? It can be argued that by the time he crossed the finish line the course record was 2:02:37!
VIRGIN MONEY LONDON MARATHON MEN’S RACE RESULTS
ELIUD KIPCHOGE 2:02:37 KEN
MOSINET GEREMEW 2:02:55 ETH
MULE WASIHUN 2:03:16 ETH
SHURA KITATA 2:05:01 ETH
MO FARAH 2:05:39 GBR
TAMIRAT TOLA 2:06:57 ETH
BASHIR ABDI 2:07:03 BEL
LEUL GEBRESILASIE 2:07:15 ETH
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
From Who Moved my Cheese? By Spencer Johnson
ELIUD KIPCHOGE MARATHON CAREER RESULTS:
April 28, 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon 1st 2:02:37
Sept 16 2018 BMW BERLIN MARATHON 1st 2:01:39
April 22 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon 1st 2:04:17
Sept 24 2017 BMW BERLIN MARATHON 1ST 2:03:32
May 6 2017 Monza Race Circuit, Italy 2:00:25
Aug 21 2016 Olympic Games Marathon,RIO 1st 2:08:44
April 24 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon 1st 2:03:05
Sep 27 2015 BMW BERLIN MARATHON 1st 2:04:00
Apr 26 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon 1st 2:04:42
Oct 12 2014 BOA Chicago Marathon 1st 2:04:11
Apr 13 2014 ABN AMRO Rotterdam Marathon 1st 2:05:00
In what is surely the most anticipated showdown this year, the world once again assembles to witness what is expected to be history in the making as homeboy Sir Mo Farah comes up against the indomitable Eliud Kipchoge, the current World marathon record holder (2:01:39).
Kipchoge is a man on a mission as he seeks to cement his reputation as the world’s greatest marathoner ever, if his 11 wins in 12 marathons, is anything to go by, while Mo Farah, whose marathon best is 2:05:11 achieved during his Chicago triumph last year, is determined to prove why he is no flash in the pan in road running.
And so, this Sunday, April 28, 2019, the athletics fraternity’s collective eyes will be set on the flat course that lines the green spaces of London that begins from Greenwich Park and ends in Hyde Park near Buckingham Palace.
Race organizers have managed to enlist a spectacular roster of all-star athletes, with one of the most competitive elite start list ever witnessed on this course.
From the onset, the local media has hyped this as Mo against Eliud Kipchoge whereas on the evidence of the start list, this race may pan out to be Eliud Kipchoge versus everyone else.
Let me tell you why.
The owner of the World Record for the Half Marathon, Abraham Kiptum, is here. Having broken Zersenay Tadese’s world record to establish a new Half Marathon WR time of 58:18 in October last year and boasting a marathon PB of 2:05:26, Abraham Kiptum may have a thing or two to say about the perceived Mo vs Kipchoge showdown.
Shura Kitata, who in last year’s edition of the London Marathon gave Eliud Kipchoge a run for his money, emerging second in an impressive 2:04:49, and beating Mo Farah to third by over a minute and a half in that race, is also here.
Former World Record holder Wilson Kipsang is here too. He has run under 2:04:00 on four separate occasions, has won the London Marathon twice before (2012 and 2014) and has been runner-up once (2015) to none other than Eliud Kipchoge. Most recently he came in third in Berlin during Kipchoge’s record breaking achievement.
Evidently the race organizers spared no expenses in bringing the big guns because the owner of Dubai Marathon’s course record 2:04:00 Mosinet Geremew is here. He tasted defeat handed by Mo Farah in Chicago recently and will most likely have a score to settle if he has learnt from his experience.
Leul Gebresilasie, who owns the Valencia Marathon course record 2:04:31, will also be staking his claim to race honours here.
In reality this will be a fight between Sir Mo and the rest of this illustrious cast to establish who can expose the chink in Eliud Kipchoge’s armour.
Pre-race conferences have been filled with all the right words with Mo Farah, utterly enjoying the adulation of the media, saying: “This is my fourth marathon appearance. I am happy, enjoying myself as well as learning and gaining experience. We’ve done everything we needed to do, there’s nothing left to do. I know I can run 2:05 or 2:04, my aim on Sunday is to go out there and see what I can do.”
Asked if beating Eliud Kipchoge would rank high alongside his four track Olympic triumphs, Mo Farah, tongue in cheek, had this to say: “If I do beat him, and it may come down to that, who knows, it would be a great achievement.”
Eliud Kipchoge, on his part, has been content to fly under the radar, occasionally smiling at the broadsides by Mo while yawning at times at the endless press inquisition.
He had this to say: “I’m really looking forward to it. Mo will be enjoying a cheering squad of over a million.”
Asked whether he watched Mo Farah’s Chicago marathon triumph (2:05:11), he said: “I watched Chicago from the first to the last kilometer. Mo has a positive progress in his marathon life. It wasn’t a fast race, but it was a tactical race. I liked the mind and thoughts of Mo.”
Asked about his training and preparation, Kipchoge in his true element, was economical with words. “Training has been going on well. I am good and I am fit.”
The question everyone is asking is whether we might witness a sub two marathon. But that is stretching the imagination a bit too far. In reality, we might not be able to predict what we may see on race day, except possibly to refer to what the legend himself had to say about the future, in the past.
Last year after breaking the marathon world record and was asked what next. Kipchoge said:
“I have run 2:00, 2:01, 2:03, 2:04 and 2:05. Next time I want to run 2:02.”
The weatherman predicts favourable conditions on race day.
Set the date: Sun, 28 April, 09:05GMT (11:05am EAT)
The 2019 edition of the Boston Marathon held on Monday served up one of the most enthralling finishes ever witnessed on the Hopkinton to Boston 42.195km circuit, except possibly for the catfight that ensued in 1988 during the 92nd edition.
In that race in 1988, Ibrahim Hussein of Kenya ran shoulder to shoulder with Juma Ikangaa of Tanzania for the last 14 kilometers but delivered a potent final sprint to pip Ikangaa by a paltry one second to win in a time of 2:08:43.
For his troubles that day, Ibrahim Hussein walked away with a $45,000 paycheck and a brand new Mercedes Benz E240 valued at $35,000. (It is a testament to the sentimental value that Ibrahim Hussein accords to this car that he still owns this car to date, over thirty years later).
At that moment in 1988, no one would have anticipated that over a distance of 26 miles and 385 yards a replica finish would ever be witnessed again, much less on the same Boston Circuit.
Enter Lawrence Cherono and Lelisa Desisa.
Billed as one of the most competitive line-ups ever assembled in Boston in recent times, the 123rd edition of the Boston Marathon served up a stellar cast of elite athletes featuring former winners of this race from 2012 to date, with the exception of the 2014 winner, Meb Keflezighi, who has since retired.
The returning men’s champs were Wesley Korir (2012), Lelisa Desisa (2013, 2015), Lemi Berhanu (2016), Geoffrey Kirui (2017) and Yuki Kawauchi (2018).
Lawrence Cherono lining up as a debutant at Boston was widely viewed as the underdog despite his current world number two ranking, behind only Eliud Kipchoge, the reigning Marathon World Record holder.
Cherono’s accolades include winners’ medals at Seville Marathon (2015), Prague Marathon (2016), Honolulu Marathon (2016,2017), Amsterdam Marathon( 2017,2018), as well as a runners up medal in Rotterdam Marathon (2017).
In essence, Cherono at the start of the race boasted 7wins out of 8 marathon races he has competed in. A fancy record, to say the least, and on course to match Eliud Kipchoge’s current win ratio of 11 wins in 12 races.
Lelisa Desisa, on the other hand, a two time Boston Marathon winner, and most recently the 2018 New
York Marathon winner, boasting a personal best time of 2:04:45 was the favorite to win, especially since he could hold his own in a sprint finish as evidenced when he out-thought, out-fought and out- maneuvered Geoffrey Kamworor in his New York win.
At the start of the race, the weather seemed favourable for distance running, with temperatures beneath 57 Fahrenheit and a slight tailwind with mild humidity.
As expected, from the onset of the race the front group huddled together featured the usual cast of East
Africans and a few Americans taking turns at the front with no one willing to put his head on the chopping board. Any hopes of a fast time were well and truly dashed when at least a dozen men passed the 21km mark in mid 1:04 range projecting a finish time over 2:07.
It wasn’t until 35K that the race truly began to take shape with the emergent leaders Geoffrey Kirui, Kenneth Kipkemoi, Lilesa Desisa, Felix Kandie and Sisay Lemma decided to break away.
With Kenneth Kipkemoi evidently in tip-top shape, it wasn’t long before he decided to throw down the gauntlet with the rest of his competitors reeling off faster times after every kilometer, indicating a subtle injection of pace.
And soon the pace began to claim victims with Geoffrey Kirui, a decorated distance athlete, falling back unable to sustain the relentless affront by his younger compatriot.
Eventually, it came down to a three horse race between Desisa, Cherono, and Kipkemoi.
And so it must have occurred to Desisa that this was reminiscent of his recent conquest against Kamworor.
However, Cherono had the advantage of unpredictability because no one had ever really seen him in a final race to the wire, unlike Kamworor whose last 5K pace is well documented.
Thus when Desisa hung back as they approached the final mile, but suddenly rushed to the front and pushed the pedal hard, the two Kenyans initially seemed doomed as the Ethiopian sped away.
However, Cherono would eventually have the last laugh as he summoned his inner reserves to stick with Desisa until as the finish line came into view when the Kenyan flew past him to cross the finish in 2:07:57.
Desisa came in second in 2:07:50 with Kipkemoi third in 2:08:07.
Lesisa Desisa wins the New York City Marathon in 2:05:59
Ethiopian two-time Boston Marathon champion (2013, 2015) Lelisa Desisa today emerged victorious in one of the most competitive three-way finishes ever witnessed in recent New York Marathon history.
Lining up at the start line as the man with one of the most fearsome personal bests in the entire cast with a time of 2:04:45, only bettered by his countryman Tamirat Tola 2:04:06, and better than Shura Kitata’s 2:04:49; Lelisa Desisa was not an underdog, but was hardly the favourite to win.
This burden was fully borne by the shoulders of Geoffrey Kamworor, the defending New York Marathon champion albeit holding a modest Personal Best of 2:06:12.
Not to be forgotten too was that in the race was the much-touted emerging force Daniel Wanjiru, the 2017 London Marathon champion.
Indeed, Lelisa Desisa’s quest was helped by the fact that he was the runner-up in the 2014 edition of the New York Marathon to Wilson Kipsang, and emerged third in the 2015 and 2017 editions. Thus it must have dawned on him at the start of the race that it was now or never.
With the weather near-perfect, temperatures around 10C with slight wind, and no rain, there was an emergent possibility that the 2011 course record of 2:05:06 held by Geoffrey Mutai might come under threat.
And so the race kicked off with much fanfare with the elite athletes quickly latching onto the lead leaving over 50,000 other participants trailing behind them.
It wasn’t until almost the mid-way point of the race with the time stamp showing 63:55 that things begun to get interesting when Shura Kitata suddenly accelerated with an injection of pace that left Daniel Wanjiru, Festus Talam, Scott Fauble and Jared Ward trailing in his wake, while Tamirat Tola, Geoffrey Kamworor and Lelisa Desisa gave chase stride for stride alongside each other, but not more than three seconds behind Kitata.
Eventually Kamworor and Desisa managed to reel in Kitata with Tola still in contention, but shortly thereafter Tamirat Tola couldn’t handle the pressure and eased back.
Kamworor must have felt pretty confident coming up on the last 10K considering the fact that he had previously blasted the last 5K at the 2018 World Half Marathon championships in Valencia in a time of 13:01.
If he managed to produce the same here, there was no doubt that he would rip apart the likes of Kitata and Desisa.
But it wasn’t to be. According to Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. The problem for Kamworor begun when Shura Kitata, once again, accelerated in the last five kilometers.
Not willing to let him go this time, Kamworor latched onto him, and took the lead, burning up the pace while trying to shake off the two Ethiopian’s who were stuck to him in an apparent sense of fortitude and defiance.
With the pace relentless, eventually Kamworor appeared to have broken Shura Kitata, and with only Lelisa Desisa remaining, he must have felt it was a case of one down, one to go.
However, over the last three kilometers, Lelisa Desisa decided it was time to do what he came here to do. Ever so slightly pressing the pace and forcing Kamworor out of his comfort zone, Desisa eventually threw down his cap with less than a kilometer to the finish and flew off.
Kamworor , apparently in an act of defiance did the same, but his energy reserves were depleted and he couldn’t match Desisa’s kick.
And just when Kamworor was contemplating settling for the runners up slot, the improbable happened. Shura Kitata, until then written off, suddenly emerged behind him, eating up yard after yard of the distance between him and Kamworor, until he caught up with him, and flew past.
At this point it seemed the race was over, with Desisa’s lead seemingly insurmountable. But Kitata would have something to say about that, pressing the pace more and more until everyone was on the edge of their seats with four hundred meters to go.
In a case of too little too late, eventually Shura Kitata couldn’t overhaul Desisa, as the Ethiopian maestro entered a very elite list of eight athletes to have won both Boston and New York when he crossed the finish line in a time of 2:05:59 with Shura Kitata settling for second in 2:06:01 and Geoffrey Kamworor coming in third in 2:06:26 in one of the most thrilling finishes ever witnessed on the New York circuit.
TOP 20 MEN
1 Lelisa Desisa, ETH 2:05:59
2 Shura Kitata, ETH 2:06:01
3 Geoffrey Kamworor, KEN 2:06:26
4 Tamirat Tola, ETH 2:08:30
5 Daniel Wanjiru, KEN 2:10:21
6 Jared Ward, USA 2:12:24
7 Scott Fauble, USA 2:12:28
8 Festus Talam, KEN 2:12:40
9 Shadrack Biwott, USA 2:12:52
10 Chris Derrick, USA 2:13:08
11 Juan Luis Barrios, MEX 2:13:55
12 Tadesse Yae Dabi, ETH 2:13:57
13 Tim Ritchie, USA 2:15:22
14 Ryan Vail, USA 2:15:31
15 Jonny Mellor, GBR 2:16:09
16 Harbert Okuti, UGA 2:16:51
17 Scott Smith, USA 2:17:12
18 Bernard Lagat, USA 2:17:20
19 Girma Bekele Gebre, ETH 2:18:18
20 Birhanu Dare Kemal, ETH 2:18:20
In what is probably the most emphatic illustration of absolute dominance by a stellar athlete, Mary Keitany on Sunday utterly destroyed the field at the 2018 edition of The New York City Marathon, running the second half of the marathon in a scorching 66 minutes 58 seconds, to record her fourth win in five years
In what was expected to be a fight for top honours, the first half of the race failed to live up to the billing, with the front group of athletes crossing the half-way point in an astonishingly slow 75:50, a Sunday morning jog for most of the elite athletes.
At this point the race seemed to be shaping up into an impending slugfest to earn a podium place, with Shalane Flanagan, the defending New York Marathon champion, Vivian Cheruiyot, the 2018 London Marathon champion, and Rahma Tusa and Netsanet Gudeta of Ethiopia all huddled together with Mary Keitany neatly tucked in.
If the strategy was to even out the race by conserving energy in the early stages of this marathon in order to ensure a cutthroat last two kilometers where the best sprinter takes it all, then Mary Keitany did not get the memo.
After an 18:45 first 5K, 37:05 (10K) and 55:08 (15K), all the athletes seemed within their powers, and when the race crossed the halfway point at 75:50, it began to seem like this script was unlike any that the pundits had predicted.
However, the race truly began to take shape when Keitany took the lead at 25K, with the time stamp showing 1:28:23, and begun reeling off incredibly fast splits with each next kilometer faster than the last, implying an unerring sense of timing and acceleration with little sign of beads of sweat showing up on her face, and her breathing as even as that of a wild cat.
It is testament to this that the last five mile splits coming up on the halfway point were 5:48, 5:31, 5:37, 5:21, 5:22 while the time splits between 21K and 25K were 5:14 and 5:08, a 40-second injection of pace from midway to 25K.
And finally the lead group broke into two formations with Netsanet Gudeta and Rahma Tusa deciding to go with Mary Keitany, a move that would prove costly for Netsanet Gudeta as she eventually dropped out.
All this while the second group fell back with Vivian Cheruiyot, Shalane Flanagan and Molly Huddle deciding to sit back and wait; at one point falling as far back as forty seconds behind the lead group.
Sensing victory and looking for any signs of weakness in the two Ethiopians, Mary Keitany brought down the hammer with sub five minutes miles with splits of 4:55, 4:58 and 4:58 for mile 17, 18 and 19.
Having grown up in the steep hills of Makilany village in the remote Baringo County of North Rift Kenya, and running 10km daily from home to school and back in her formative years, must have helped at this point of the race.
A bit of research by Netsanet Gudeta would probably have meant that she would end up on the podium, instead of dropping out, if she had hang back at this point.
With 10 kilometers to go, Mary Keitany climbing uphill finally broke away, with any lingering doubt of her impending win well and truly dispensed of.
Easing back ever so slightly on the pace, but still covering every mile in slightly under 5:10, Keitany opened up a lead that only kept increasing until she was over three minutes ahead of the chasing pack with less than 2km to go.
Further back Vivian Cheruiyot, relying on all her experience on the track as a 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters runner gave chase and eventually caught up with the Ethiopians, seemingly wilting and spent up by their pursuit of Keitany.
Few people can live with Vivian in a 10K chase, and as soon as Rahma Tusa reappeared in her crosshairs, there was truly never any doubt that she would reel her in.
Shalane Flanagan, the defending champion, stuck with Vivian, less than thirty seconds behind but never truly letting her get out of sight, and once she overtook Rahma Tusa, whoever had placed a bet on her finishing on the podium could go and collect their money at that point.
Meanwhile Molly Huddle, another American, managed to overtake Rahma Tusa and earn fourth for the first time in the race.
Passing the 40K mark with a time underneath 2 hours 23 minutes seemingly imminent, Mary Keitany went down and found an extra gear, covering the mile before the last in 5:09, to well and truly enter the fray for the first time in the entire race to challenge Margaret Okayo’s NYC Marathon 17-year-old course record of 2:22:31.
In the end, Mary Keitany ran out of real estate, with the course record never truly coming under threat, crossing the finish line in an impressive 2:22:48, the second fastest time in New York Marathon History.
TOP 20 WOMEN
1 Mary Keitany, KEN 2:22:48
2 Vivian Cheruiyot, KEN 2:26:02
3 Shalane Flanagan, USA 2:26:22
4 Molly Huddle, USA 2:26:44
5 Rahma Tusa, ETH 2:27:13
6 Desiree Linden, USA 2:27:51
7 Allie Kieffer, USA 2:28:12
8 Lisa Weightman, AUS 2:29:11
9 Mamitu Daska, ETH 2:30:31
10 Belaynesh Fikadu, ETH 2:30:47
11 Stephanie Bruce, USA 2:30:59
12 Roberta Groner, USA 2:31:01
13 Gerda Steyn, RSA 2:31:04
14 Carrie Dimoff, USA 2:31:12
15 Samantha Bluske, USA 2:32:04
16 Sydney Devore, USA 2:32:43
17 Brittany Charboneau, USA 2:36:35
18 Sarah Sellers, USA 2:36:37
19 Beverly Ramos, PUR 2:40:58
20 Adriana Aparecida Da Silva, BRA 2:41:00
The 48th edition of the TCS New York City Marathon kicks off this Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 7am New York time (3pm Kenyan time).
The New York Marathon is the world’s largest marathon by participator numbers, with the 2017 edition recording the highest number of finishers ever at a marathon race.
This year’s edition promises to provide a thrilling atmosphere, with the recent backdrop of Eliud Kipchoge’s WR marathon performance and Mo’ Farah’s Chicago Marathon win, as well as the most recent Half Marathon World Record Breaking performance by Abraham Kiptum providing the perfect prelude to the race.
The elite list of athletes features the 2017 winner Geoffrey Kamworor lining up to defend his title, an erstwhile task considering that the last athlete to successfully defend his title in this race was John Kagwe (1997,1998), although Geoffrey Mutai won two successive editions of the race (2011, 2013) either side of the cancelled 2012 edition due to Hurricane Sandy.
Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, now aged almost 26 (DOB Nov 28 1992), is a two time cross country champ and a half marathon icon with three wins to his name(Valencia 2018, Cardiff 2016 and Kobenhavn(DEN) 2014); with a litany of accolades on the track to his name including a silver medal at the 2015 Beijing World Championships.
He boasts an impressive array of fast times with PBs of 12:59:98 for the 5000M, 26:52:65 for the 10000M, 58:54 for the half marathon and 2:06:12 for the full marathon, making him one of the most versatile athletes in active competition today.
In the 2017 edition of this race, Kamworor survived by the skin of his teeth, with Wilson Kipsang, the 2014 NYC marathon champ, chasing him down to the wire in what was one of the most thrilling finishes ever witnessed in this race. Indeed, had the race been 30 metres longer Kamworor would probably have been credited with the ignominy of being the runner up.
The biggest storyline coming out of the American press is the highly anticipated marathon debut of 43-year-old Bernard Lagat, an American Citizen of Kenyan heritage, and a highly decorated track athlete with accolades stretching over five Olympiads.
Ethiopia’s contigent of world beaters will also be on show, with Lelisa Desisa (2:04:45 PB and 59:30 for the half), Senbeto Geneti Guteta (2:11:12 PB) and Fikadu Girma Teferi(2:09:34 PB) leading the cast.
Since Ibrahim Hussein won the 1987 edition, a Kenyan has won 14 out of the 30 editions of this race, while Ethiopians have only come up trumps once (Gebregziabher Gebremariam, 2010).
The last American to win this race was Meb Keflezighi in 2009 who retired after last year’s edition of this race at the age of 42.
MAN TO WATCH
The man to watch in this race will be Daniel Wanjiru aged 26. Like a sniper this man may go unnoticed but provides the most lethal combination of willpower, endurance, grit and determination to win a race with such a punishing course as the New York City Marathon.
He is a two-time Prague Half Marathon Winner (59:51,2015; 59:20,2016), The 2016 Amsterdam Marathon champion (2:05:21, PB) and The 2017 London Marathon champion (2:05:48).
Current Forecast: Sunny. Low to High 50s during the race. Headwind: 29 per cent of the course.
Start weather: Low 50s, sunny.
Average temperatures from the past New York City marathons: Average high: 62˚F/17˚C, Average low: 47˚F/8˚C Mean average: 55˚F/13˚C.
TOP PROFESSIONAL MEN PERSONAL BEST TIMES – OPEN DIVISION
The athletics fraternity this past weekend received a jolt when Abraham Kiptum, 29, broke the eight-year old Zersenay Tadese’s World Record by running 58:18 at the 2018 Valencia Trinidad Alfonso EDP Half Marathon.
Immediate reactions from coaches, agents, race directors, athletes and the entire sports fraternity seemed to border on bewilderment, shock and disbelief.
Because before this race nobody had ever heard of Abraham Kiptum.
Wait. What? Who?
Granted, the Kenyan conveyor belt of top notch athletes has been in overdrive since the early 90s, and when a litany of Kenyan athletes lined up at the 2018 Valencia Trinidad Alfonso EDP Half Marathon no one expected anything other than an interesting race.
With near perfect weather at the start of the race (very slight wind and temperatures around 11 degrees Celsius and no rain), the onslaught on the World Record may not have seemed imminent, but probable.
Pre-Race news seemed to suggest that the race organizers had asked for a 27:50 in first 10K from the pacesetters in order to ensure a sub 59min half marathon race.
Initial indications were that the race was within the set timelines as the first 5K and 10K were covered in 13:56 and 28:02 respectively, well outside the world record pace, at least 9 seconds outside Zersenay Tadese’s World Record pace.
At 15K the race had picked up significantly with the lead pack clocking 41:40, now seven seconds outside WR pace but still projecting a sub 59min time.
It is between the 15th and 20th kilometer stage that Kiptum slammed the pedal to the floor, covering the distance in a scorching 5K split of 13:38 compared to Zersenay Tadese’s 13:48; a 10-second gain within a 5K distance.
Consequently, for the first time in the race, the World Record came into focus with Abraham Kiptum hitting the 20K mark at 55:18, three seconds inside the WR.
From this point on, and with the crowds urging on the unlikely contender, Kiptum never let up the pace and those that expected him to wilt from the brutal 5K coming up to the 20K mark were disappointed because over the remaining distance he continued to gain on Tadese’s time until there was never any lingering doubt as to whether the World Record would go, but by how much.
Raising his hands in glory at the finish line, Abraham Kiptum eventually crossed the tape with the time indicating a New World Record of 58:18.
The world’s 4th largest Marathon by participants kicks off this Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 5:30 AM GMT-5 (1:30 PM EAT) on the wonderfully flat looping course mapped out within the magnificent environs of Chicago, Illinois, United States.
A part of the World Marathon Majors, this has always been the elite road racing athlete’s dream; and the 41st Annual Edition of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is expected to provide a spectacle to behold for the millions of viewers tuning in worldwide.
Over 45000 athletes are expected to line up at the start line, with at least 40 million households expected to be tuned in through television partnerships across three continents; with hundreds of millions expected to be streaming the race online.
So far, the weather forecast promises temperatures in the low 60s F (between 62 and 65 F), 78% humidity, with a possibility of rain. Projected 11 mph winds out of the northeast is expected.
Consequently, this race is unlikely to be fast.
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has managed to assemble one of the most competitive rosters ever in this edition, with this year’s elite lineup featuring at least 11 men who have run south of 2:07.
“We have put together an exciting elite field, and it should be a fast race to the top of the podium,” said Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “This year’s elite field is a collection of some of the best international and American athletes running on the global stage today. We are confident that they will continue the great tradition of memorable and record setting performances in Chicago.”
A quick perusal of the start list paints a picture of an impending slugfest that will expose the fitness, endurance, mettle and athletics pedigree of each and every elite athlete that attempts to go for the win.
At the head of the cast is Mo’ Farah. A man renowned more for his exploits on the track than his feats on the road. He is a quadruple Olympic champion, with his “double-double” having been attained in spectacular fashion winning gold for both the 5000m and 10000m, at London 2012 and Rio 2016, a feat which ascribes him as only the second man to retain both Olympic titles after Lasse Viren of Finland in 1972 and 1976. He is a five-time winner of the Manchester Great North Run, a feat unmatched before, or since. He is the current holder of the GB Marathon record of 2.06.22 attained when he came third in the 2018 London Marathon, a race in which he could arguably have run faster considering his first half split was an arduous 61min flat.
More impressive is the fact that this was only his third marathon, and he managed to match the relentless Eliud Kipchoge, the eventual winner (2:04:17), and recent new WR holder (2:01:39) stride for stride, for the entire first half of the race, and all the way to 30km.
“Eliud is a great athlete,” Mo said. “He makes it look so easy. I came across at 30km, absolutely knackered at that point, and he just changed gear and kicked on. But could you have got a better field? I beat Kenenisa Bekele, Daniel Wanjuri, so many good guys. I will take time to improve, as I took my time to win medals on the track.”
Lining up at the start line alongside the Briton is the current Chicago Marathon Defending champion, Galen Rupp of the USA, understandably the man in the spotlight right now, and a darling of the American media since his win last year.
Lapping up all the adoration but barely flattered from all the media attention, Galen Rupp has wasted no time in creating the impression that he is not in awe of Mo Farah. After all, the two have previously trained together before Mo Farah embarked on his Globe Trotting training regimen focused on living and training at altitude, the last of which was at Ethiopia, 10000M above sea level while training for London 2018, but more recently has been at 7000M above sea level. Galen Rupp on the other hand has preferred training and living near his home at Oregon, a preference by his own admission inculcated by a great sense of family values, being unwilling to part with his wife and children in preparation for upcoming marathons.
Indeed, considering his win in last year’s edition of this race, it may be futile arguing against the fact that his principle works. Further evidence may be his six finishes (all in the top three) in the 26.2-mile distance.
At age 32, standing at 1.8M in height and weighing in at a paltry 61kg, Galen Rupp’s accolades include an Olympics 10000M silver medal attained in London 2012, and an Olympics Marathon Bronze medal attained at Rio 2016.
His win at the 2017 Chicago Marathon (2:09:20) sets him apart as the first American to win since Khalid Khannouchi (four time Chicago Marathon Winner) in 2002. Galen Rupp’s other accolades include a 2nd Place finish at the 2017 Boston Marathon, and more recently, a winners medal at The 2018 Prague Marathon.
Pointedly Rupp has more experience than Farah does at the Marathon.
As expected Kenya and Ethiopia will have a contingent of world-beaters on show.
Step up, Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui. If ever there were a man ignored, underrated and forgotten, but always turned up to cash in the check, then this man would be the prime candidate. At only 25 years old, he will most probably be the youngest accomplished elite athlete at Chicago.
Geoffrey Kirui first broke into the scene when he won the 2011 African Junior Athletics Championships before he went on to secure a Bronze medal at the 10000M 2012 World Junior Championships held in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
Shortly thereafter, he transitioned from the 10000M to the Marathon, in a curious departure from tradition, whence athletes previously only transitioned into the marathon after a long career on the track.
In 2015, the world began to take notice when Kirui clocked 59:38 in the 2015 New Delhi Half Marathon.
In his last three marathons, Geoffrey Kirui came in first at The 2017 Boston Marathon (2:09:37), Clinched The Gold Medal at The London 2017 World Championships (2:08:27) and most recently finished runners up at The 2018 Boston Marathon (2:18:23).
His Marathon PB stands at 2:06:27 (Amsterdam 2016).
It is instructive to note that in the buildup to this race Geoffrey Kirui has split his training between his base in Keringet and Kaptagat, where he has been training with Patrick Sang‘s group for three weeks. Ominously, Eliud Kipchoge trains with this group.
In the eyes of many, Geoffrey Kirui is the man laced with the greatest venom in this race.
Next onto the Start Line comes Dickson Chumba. Coming straight out of Kenya’s conveyor belt of athletes, he is another proven athlete you probably never heard of before, but whom the chatter on the airwaves portends a competitor who the world is watching with anticipation.
At 31 years of age, Dickson Chumba boasts the best PB of the entire cast (2:04:32 Chicago 2014).
In his last three marathons, he came in third at The 2017 Tokyo Marathon (2:06:25), second at the 2017 Toronto Marathon (2:09:11), and most recently emphatically came in first at The 2018 Tokyo Marathon (2:05:30).
Standing shoulder to shoulder with Duncan will be Abel Kirui, a man who needs little introduction, with his consistency and performances unquestionable, if not impeccable. The only reason Abel Kirui attracts little attention is that, surely, at age 36, everyone expects him to be on the decline.
Abel’s accolades include being a two-time World Champion having clinched Marathon Gold at both the 2009 Berlin and 2011 Daegu World Championships. He is only the third man to have successfully defended his marathon world title, following in the steps of Abel Antón and Jaouad Gharib.
In his last three marathons, Abel Kirui came in fourth at the London 2017 World Championships (2:07:45), second at The 2017 Chicago Marathon (2:09:48) and 4th The 2018 London Marathon (2:07:07).
Another Kenyan athlete likely to generate interest will be Augustine Choge, an established track athlete who was world class in middle distances ranging from the 800M to the 5000M. His amazing range and versatility may come to bear in the early stages of the race.
Ethiopians who are likely to make the race competitive include Mosinet Geremew and Birhanu Legese
Other athletes expected to throw in their lot include Yuki Kawauchi — Japan, 31 years old, 2:08:14 PB (2013 Seoul), 62:18 half. In his last three marathons: he performed as follows: 9th Gold Coast Marathon (July 1; 2:14:51), 1st New Caledonia International Marathon (Aug. 26; 2:18:18), 2nd Wakkanai Heiwa Marathon (Sept. 2; 2:24:55).
Yuki Kawauchi gets special mention because he amazingly won the 2018 Boston Marathon earlier this year.
As a sub plot, if Suguru Osaku of Japan comes to the party then this may provide adequate motivation for the Japanese Marathon Record to go down. The current Japanese record is 2:06:11.
Mo Farah has requested for a 62-minute first half of the race from the pacesetters.
International Men’s Elite Field (Name, Country, PB)
In what is surely one of the most impressive performances of all time, Eliud Kipchoge, the reigning Olympic champion, three-time London Marathon champion and two-time Berlin Marathon champion finally pulled off what until now has been regarded as the only feather missing in his glorious cap: Breaking the Marathon World Record.
Widely regarded as the number one marathoner over the past three seasons, many wondered whether Dennis Kimetto’s world record of 2.02.57 was a milestone too near, yet too far for the man from the lush green undulating hills of the Kenyan Rift Valley.
And so it was that on a day of near perfect weather in the German capital of Berlin, at 9.15am (Kenyan time), with temperatures at 14 degrees Celcius, no rain and no wind; the world assembled to witness what was billed as a historic event, with no less than six pacesetters including Sammy Kitwara, Josephat Boit and Benard Kipkemoi lining up with stars the likes of Eliud Kipchoge, Wilson Kipsang and Zersenay Tadese, among other contestants.
News filtering in before the race suggested that Wilson Kipsang was seeking a first half time split of 61:30 to 61:45, while Eliud Kipchoge was seeking a 61:00 to 61:15 first half time split.
It is noteworthy that when Dennis Kimetto broke the world record four years ago, his first half split was 61:45, while his second half split was 61:12, and until now the fastest ever second half split.
The fastest ever fast half split was recorded in the 2018 London Marathon when Eliud Kipchoge went out in a blistering first half time of 61:00 but wilted in the smouldering London heat, the warmest ever recorded during the race as the world record slipped out of reach.
True to script, at the onset of the race Wilson Kipsang raced out of the blocks in a lung-bursting first kilometre time split of 2:43, with Eliud Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese as well as the six pacemakers within a few strides of the lead.
As the time flashed by at 14:24 with 5km covered, it was quickly evident that the greatest risk lay in going out way too fast, similar to the Berlin 2017 edition when Kipsang and Bekele dropped out later in the race ostensibly due to an unsustainable blistering first half pace, and, as history is replete with examples, one cannot fail to mention Tirunesh Dibaba’s London 2017 debacle, where she flew out in the first half of the race but burned out and dropped off before the 30km mark. Comparatively, Dennis Kimetto’s WR split for 5km had been 14.42.
Wilson Kipsang by the 5km mark, had fallen back, in stride with three pacesetters, while Eliud Kipchoge had already built what later turned out to be an unassailable lead, with Sammy Kitwara, Josphat Boit and Benard Kipkemoi forming a formidable rabbit triumvirate that would surely be key in the WR onslaught.
Over the next 5km the race panned out as if on schedule, as experience of both the rabbits and the pedigree of Eliud Kipchoge started to shine through as the race settled down to a reasonable pace, with the four laying out a strategy as seamless as the choreographed musical ensemble of a string quartet.
At 8km the time stamp was 23:12 (a 2:55 split for the last km), while at 9km the time lapse was 26:07 (2:55 split) and at 10km 29:01(2:58 split).
At the 10km mark, Eliud Kipchoge’s 5km splits compared with Dennis Kimetto’s WR time was:
KIMETTO 14:42 (5km), 14:42 (10km)
KIPCHOGE 14:24 (5km), 14:37 (10km)
Once Eliud Kipchoge established a rhythm, and with his times stacking up impressively against the times of Dennis Kimetto’s time splits for the WR, and with temperatures rising but ever so slightly, and the breeze ever so slight with little possibility of rain, a feeling of inevitability began to envelop the watching crowd lined up along the sidelines of the race.
As the race progressed, the determination of Kipchoge became even more evident when, with 13km covered, he emphatically motioned to Sammy Kitwara and Josphat Kipkemoi to line up back into formation, as Kitwara seemingly begun to wilt.
It is probable that at the back of his mind, Kipchoge was employing the same tactic he used in running the sub two-hour attempt Nike-sponsored race in Monza, Italy, where the pacesetters had been instructed to form what was later coined as an “arrowhead formation” ahead of Kipchoge.
Slightly after 14km, with 40:45 having lapsed, Sammy Kitwara, the most formidable of the pacesetters (PB of 58:48 for the half) dropped off, seemingly unable to sustain the unyielding pace.
As if on cue, a few strides later, Eliud Kipchoge stepped up to the drink station and picked a drink, in order to stay hydrated.
If Josephat Boit and Benard Kipkemoi were not aware what they signed up for, surely any doubt over the seriousness of this mission must have evaporated, because Eliud Kipchoge neither seemed shocked nor worried at the early exit of Sammy Kitwara.
Indeed, the demeanor on Kipchoge’s face bore the nonchalance of a mortician.
At 15km the time was 43:38, reflecting a 5km time split of 14:37, exactly the same as the previous 5km split; implying a consistent pace; but which moreover compared favourably to Dennis Kimetto’s respective split of 14:45.
As if the devil sensed that Eliud Kipchoge was about to entertain the thought of celebrating these magnificent time splits, Benard Kipkemoi, until then an erstwhile contender for rabbit of the year, suddenly dropped off with only 15.70km undertaken.
The only silver lining shortly thereafter was the 46:35 time for 16km covered, implying a 2.50 time split for the last kilometre, the fastest time split thus far apart from that at the start of the race.
Feeling a need to quench his thirst, Eliud Kipchoge stepped off and grabbed another drink of water with slightly over 17km covered.
So far, Josephat Boit, the only remaining rabbit, was looking every bit the 59:19 half marathon elite athlete that he is.
Eliud Kipchoge on his part, amazingly still looked calm and relaxed, with no sign of sweat on his forehead, still gliding with the sense of purpose and composure that only a cheetah can summon.
KIMETTO 46:37 (16km), 49:31(17km), 52:26(18km)
KIPCHOGE 46:28 (16km) , 9:20(km), 52:13(18km)
Coming up on 20km, Kipchoge picks another drink, drinks very little, and hands the bottle to the much appreciative Josephat Boit, who drinks the water and tosses the rest aside. A gesture of trust.
At the 20km milestone, Eliud Kipchoge is well inside the World Record with a time of 57:56 compared to Dennis Kimetto’s WR respective time of 58:35. This implies that Eliud Kipchoge is already 39seconds inside the World Record.
HALFWAY POINT (21KM);
Kipchoge crosses 21km at 1:01:06 (61:06) well inside Dennis Kimetto’s WR respective time of 61:45.
Kipchoge’s time splits in the last five kilometres are as follows:
Going into the second half of the race, all indications were that Josephat Boit was up for the job; his arms still up, stride length normal and unvaried.
Eliud Kipchoge at this point looks like a man well within his limits, breathing easy, emphatically sprinting from the asphalt as if embarking on a second half of a daily routine.
At 24km Eliud Kipchoge has covered the last kilometre in 2:54 and has built up a comfortable cushion on the WR. He decides to pick another bottle of water at the next drink station, which he does as if on cue.
At 25km the time is 1:12:24, compared to Kimetto’s 1:13:07, implying that Eliud Kipchoge at this point was at least 43seconds inside the world record.
At 25.6km, Josephat Boit finally runs out of gas and drops out.
From this point henceforth, it is Eliud Kipchoge ALL BY HIMSELF against the clock.
It must be mentioned, albeit in passing, that in Dennis Kimetto’s Berlin 2014 race, the three pacesetters petered out at the 30km mark, and that thereafter he had to slug it out with the formidable Emmanuel Mutai (then a 2013 runner-up in both the London and Chicago marathons, and a 2010 London Marathon Champion), in one of the most amazing catfights ever witnessed in a marathon race after 30km.
At the 30km mark in that race, Emmanuel Mutai delivered a flurry of speed that saw him set a then WR 30km time of 1.27.37. Kimetto eventually prevailed over his compatriot in the latter stages with an injection of pace. Such was the competition in this race that they covered the distance between the 30km and 35km in an earth-shattering time of 14:10.
Eliud Kipchoge, most certainly fully aware of these facts, and facing tougher odds with no rabbit and no competitor beside him to inspire his reserve energies, must have fully appreciated the 43-second cushion he had built over the first 25kms of this race.
But, in London 2018, he faced exactly the same proposition, with an even bigger cushion, but failed. The weather was blamed in that instance, but surely this time, with temperatures not acting up, there could be no excuse.
Surprisingly, once Josephat Boit dropped out, Eliud Kipchoge slammed the pedal to the floor, running 26km at 2:52, 27km at 2:51, 28km at 2:55, 29km at 2:53, 30km at 2:50. Approaching 30km he runs a 14:21 last 5km time split.
Thereafter he continues the relentless onslaught covering 31km at 2:53, and 32km at an astonishing 2:49.
Between 30km and 35km, Kipchoge fails to beat Kimetto’s 5km time split for the first time in the entire race; running a time split of 14:18 compared to Kimetto’s insurmountable 14:10.
Approaching the 35km Eliud Kipchoge picks what will ultimately prove to be his last bottle of water, drinks and tosses aside the rest as he now embarks on the final leg of his erstwhile mission.
Knowing like the back of his hand the entire circuit of the Berlin Marathon, being in familiar surroundings must have urged on Kipchoge at this stage, and the calming knowledge that his fitness was up to scratch, his shoes for once not chugging out insoles, the weather perfect, and less than 8km to go in order to fulfil his destiny, the WR seemingly in sight, and an under 2:02 WR in sight, this was one of those moments where all the inspiring and persuasive words of his coach, Patrick Sang, must have filtered through his mind and muscles.
Athletes who have run the Berlin Marathon have never managed to conclude the argument as to what makes the final phase of the Berlin Marathon so challenging, yet so enticing.
No one has documented a blow by blow account of what goes through the mind of an athlete chasing a win, or chasing a world record for that matter.
The chanting crowds may play a big role, or the knowledge that ahead lies the imposing Brandenburg Gate, a monument over two hundred-years-old, seemingly a gateway to the finish line of the marathon which lies an excruciatingly painful but beckoning three hundred metres away.
Eliud Kipchoge passing under the Brandenburg Gate with the time at 2:01:00, had no time to stop and marvel.
With the finish line in sight, and the crowds roaring him ahead, knowing for sure that this was a day ordained by God, Eliud Kipchoge found an extra gear in his seemingly inexhaustible energy reserves to summon one last sprint. What pain?
With every stride reeling in the finish line, every ounce of energy spent on the brutal training regiment was now coming to bear. The pump of adrenaline in overdrive, there was no chance Eliud Kipchoge was going to let go.
With the WR no longer in doubt, and the added assurance of surely becoming the first man to run under 2:02, Eliud Kipchoge finally summoned up a wide smile, thumped his chest with both arms, and stretched out his hands while holding out both index fingers to signify his undisputed Number One status, lapped up the total and utter adulation of the screaming crowd as he crossed the finish line in a World Record Time of 2:01:39!
Overall, Eliud Kipchoge ran a first half time split of 61:06 and a second half of 60:33, an impressive negative split compared to Kimetto’s 61:45 and 61:12 respectively.
NEW WR 5K TIME SPLITS
5k 10k 15k 20k 25k 30k 35k 40k
14:24 14:37 14:37 14:18 14:28 14:21 14:21 14:29
“I had a great belief that I would break the WR.”
“I had a belief and I was ready for Berlin.”
“I’ve run 2:00,2:01,2:03,2:04,2:05 next time I want to run 2:02.”
“I always say, Berlin Forever. I will come back next year.”
POINTS TO PONDER
The way Patrick Sang received Eliud Kipchoge in a bear hug showed a great connection between the coach and the Athlete. European/American Coaches should borrow a leaf and create a mutually beneficial interpersonal relationship between themselves and the athletes in their stables.
The Berlin Marathon needs to relook at their strategy pertaining water stations. Eliud Kipchoge tried to pick up a bottle at the 40th km and dropped it since there was no steward to hand it to him. Tirunesh Dibaba lost precious seconds at a water station when she had to stop due to mix ups and collisions that can be avoided
There is sport, and there is HEAVY METAL SPORT. Sports Africa is all about the latter: a kick-ass sports website that says we know sport!
We are Africa’s number one online sports community created by true fans.
As fans first, and journalists second, we know how sports content should be presented. So say goodbye to those bland sites and welcome to the true home of sports.
Visit us for the most compelling sporting content from Africa and around the world.