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.
2019 LONDON MARATHON WOMEN’S RESULTS
- BRIGID KOSGEI 2:18:20
- CHERUIYOT VIVIAN 2:20:14
- DEREJE ROZA 2:20:51
- CHERONO GLADYS 2:20:52
- KEITANY MARY 2:20:58
- SISSON MARY 2:23:08
- DIVER SINEAD 2:24:11
- ROCHA CARLA 2:24:47
- DIBABA BERHANE 2:25:04
- PURDUE CHARLOTTE 2:25:38
- LINET MASAI 2:26:06