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Kipsang completes Kenyan double with course record

by Press Release
Monday 14th April 2014

Men’s race report: Official report from the Virgin Money London Marathon - Sunday April 13, 2014

Virgin Money London Marathon - Sunday April 13, 2014: Fastest on the day was marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang © Romilly Lockyer

Photo © Romilly Lockyer

Wilson Kipsang made the most of perfect conditions to complete a pair of Kenyan one-twos at the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon this morning as he regained the men's title in style, breaking the course record as he sprinted away from Stanley Biwott in the final mile and a half of the race.

The two had broken clear of the pack around Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs, and Kipsang shrugged off his compatriot as they approached Westminster Bridge to win by 26 seconds in 2:04:29, beating Emmanuel Mutai's three-year-old London best.

It was an impressive effort from the 32-year-old who added a second London title to his world record victory at the Berlin Marathon last September It was his seventh win in 10 career marathons and the 10th London Marathon victory by a Kenyan man.

Two years ago he crossed the line more than two minutes clear of the field after dominating the race in the second half. This year, he bided his time, kicking away from a pack of eight with a burst that only Biwott could match.

The two ran shoulder-to-shoulder for 10km, past the Tower of London and on to the Embankment, before Kipsang made his move with just over 2km left. From there he was never in trouble, and made up for a sluggish first half by sprinting down The Mall to cross the line with arms outstretched.

"It's really great to win the London Marathon again, and I hope to do it again very soon," said Kipsang. "It was around 31km that I decided to push harder as I felt very comfortable and strong. I pushed again towards the finish line and that's when I broke away."

Virgin Money London Marathon - Sunday April 13, 2014

Photos: Wilson Kipsang and Stanley Biwott celebrate

Never among the pre-race predictions, Biwott sprung a surprise in second, clocking 2:04:55 to ensure 2014 will be remembered as the first time in 34 London Marathons that two men have broken 2:05.

There was some consolation for Kenya's great east African rivals Ethiopia as they filled the next three places.

Defending champion Tsegaye Kebede, who had been prominent at the front for much of the race, had to be satisfied with third this time, his fifth podium finish in six races here. Kebede outsprinted Abshero Ayele to cross the line a second ahead in 2:06:30 while the 18-year-old Dubai champion Tsegaye Mekonnen was fifth in 2:08:06.

As for Britain's Mo Farah, his much-anticipated debut ended in disappointment as the double world and Olympic champion track champion failed in his bid to break the long-standing British record, finishing tired and drained in eighth place, his time of 2:08:21 more than a minute outside his target.

"I just had a bad day at the office," he said.

It wasn't all bad news for Farah, though, as took 12 seconds from the English marathon record of 1984 Olympic bronze medallist Charlie Spedding, set here in 1985.

Virgin Money London Marathon - Sunday April 13, 2014

Photos: Farah finishes in good company, behind the two Mutais after a lonely run

Farah had set off with the slightly slower, second group, paced by Cyprian Kotut, brother and former gardener of the three-times London winner, Martin Lel.

On the start line he had been full of beans, tugging proudly on his British vest and bouncing up and down on his toes as he waved to the massive crowds, his school sports teacher and first coach, Alan Watkinson watching from the start-line grandstand.

Farah is already a legend of British distance running, but it was the global legend, Haile Gebrselassie who led off the first group containing the best marathon men in the world, the athletes relishing the near-perfect conditions of warm sunshine and gentle winds.

Alongside Gebrselassie and his Kenyan co-pacers, Edwin Kiptoo and Richard Sigei, were four of the fastest 10 men in history. As well as Kipsang and Biwott the pack contained two other Kenyans, course record holder Mutai and his namesake, the two-times New York champion Geoffrey Mutai.

Kebede, Abshero and Mekonnen were also in the leading pack with a fifth Ethiopian, Feyisa Lilesa, who was fourth here in 2013.

Farah settled into the second group as expected, wisely allowing the leaders to speed away on course record schedule. They clicked off the traditionally fast first mile in 4:36, 15 seconds quicker than Mutai's 2011 London record, and reached 5km in 14:21, way inside world record pace.

Farah passed that mark in 14:48 alongside Uganda's Olympic and world champion Stephen Kiprotich and his great track rival, Ethiopia's Ibrahim Jeilan, another debutant.

Gebrselassie had been asked to take the leaders through half way in 61:45, just on world record schedule, but by the time they past 10km and ran through the tunnel of noise around Cutty Sark they were five seconds quick at 29:11, while Farah and Jeilan were now 45 seconds back, in 29:56.

Gebrselassie had talked about the heavy responsibility of pacing such an illustrious field and, as it turned out, he was right to be concerned. By 15km, he had already done too much too early, and soon after the leaders passed that check point in 44:06 he stepped aside, just half way to his target distance.

Sigei was left as the sole pacemaker with Kebede in his shadow, and Kipsang and G Mutai on his shoulder. Inevitably, the pace dropped as they reached half way shortly after Tower Bridge in 62:30, 45 seconds slower than planned.

It was too slow for Kipsang, and the world record holder soon made his first move, swiftly transforming the group into a line.

Behind them, Farah began to close the gap, working hard with Eritrea's Tsegay Samuel, but the Briton had lost touch with his pacemaker and his dropped his drink at the 20km feeding station, leaving him stranded and without replenishment.

Up front, Kipsang's injection of pace had failed to thin the group. With all eight still in contention, four Kenyans and four Ethiopians emerged out of the tunnel onto the long loop around London's Isle of Dogs.

Kebede kicked in a 4:30 mile to the 15-mile point and passed 25km in 1:13:58 after a 14:42 5km stretch. That was too much for Sigei, who left the men to race the last 11 miles alone. Kebede was now keen to get on with it and he took seven past 30km in 1:29:01 as E Mutai began to struggle.

By contrast, Kipsang looked utterly at ease and poised to strike. After his earlier burst, he had briefly settled back to wait for his moment and that came as they twisted around the tight corners of Canary Wharf. Surprisingly, it was Biwott who went with him as Kebede and G Mutai rapidly lost ground.

The two leaders clicked off the 20th and 21st miles in 4:39 and 4:40, and suddenly had the streets to themselves. Now heading east towards Westminster they hit 35km in 1:43:34, a 5km split of 14:33, the fastest since the swift opening stretch and now back on for a sub-2:05 finish.

With Mutai, Kebede and Mekonnen now 27 seconds adrift, it was just a question of which of the two leaders had more left for the drawn-out finish past the Tower of London and along the Embankment. In 2012, Kipsang had run this section in glorious isolation; this time he was stride-for-stride with the 2012 Paris champion.

They sped past the crowds along the Embankment and passed 40km 1:58:12 (a 14:38 5km) at which point Kipsang finally kicked away, his low swinging arms working hard to shake off his shadow.

It was a decisive move. In no time, Biwott had lost 20 metres, his job now to hang on to second. Having broken the field, Kipsang's focus switched to the London record, and he strode down The Mall to stop the clock 11 seconds faster than any other man on this famous course, just reward for a well-judged race.

"I feel I performed very well here," said Kipsang, who earned a $25,000 bonus for the record. "There were a lot of strong guys and it was a tactical race. My plan worked very well."

Biwott finished comfortably in second, lowering his personal best by 17 seconds with the fourth fastest time on the London course. "I knew I was in good shape, but I was not expecting to run 2:04," said Biwott. "I am pleased I did."

As for Kebede, third place was a remarkable result for a man who contracted typhoid just a month before. "I knew at the end I couldn't go with them," he said. "I just felt empty."

Behind them Farah had been working hard to stay on course for the British record but this was a 26.2-mile baptism of fire for the Briton. Having been left adrift by his pacemakers, he slipped behind schedule between 30 and 35km but clung on for his first marathon finish.

"I was on my own for a long way so it was hard to do something good after that," he said. "I just had a bad day at the office, but I have to move on now and get ready for the next race."

At least he can say he beat the world and Olympic champion, as Kiprotich finished 12th in 2:11:37, one place behind the second Briton Chris Thompson who clocked 2:11:19.

Virgin Money London Marathon - Sunday April 13, 2014

Photos: Mo Farah and Chris Thompson, the fastest Brits

Men's elite results

1 Wilson Kipsang KEN 02:04:29
2 Stanley Biwott KEN 02:04:55
3 Tsegaye Kebede ETH 02:06:30
4 Ayele Abshero ETH 02:06:31
5 Tsegaye Mekonnen ETH 02:08:06


UK men's results

Mo Farah GBR 02:08:21
Chris Thompson GBR 02:11:19
Steven Way GBR 02:16:27
John Gilbert GBR 02:16:46
Ben Livesey GBR 02:17:44
Jon Pepper GBR 02:19:59
Scott Overall GBR 02:19:55


Click here for full results


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