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It’s third-time lucky for Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat

by Press Release
Monday 14th April 2014

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

Women’s race report: Virgin Money London Marathon - Sunday April 13, 2014

Edna Kiplagat ran a perfectly judged race today to finally win the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon, after finishing runner-up at last two events in 2012 and 2013.

Kiplagat ran the last seven miles of the race a step behind her fellow Kenyan, and namesake (but no relation), Florence Kiplagat, before winding up the pace as the pair turned into the final 200m on The Mall to cross the finish line in 2:20:21.

"I'm very happy to win today because I haven't managed to the last three times I've been here," said Edna Kiplagat. "I focused on speed in my training because I thought I might need a good sprint finish to win today and at long last that's what I've done."

The race started at a relatively conservative pace, with eight frontrunners forming a group and choosing to ignore the tempo set by the Kenyan pacers Josephine Chepkoech and Joyce Chepkirui, who had been asked to go through halfway in 69:15.

Led by Priscah Jeptoo, the reigning London Marathon champion, the group went completed the first 5km in 16:45, using the relaxed pace to take the opportunity to check each other out. Behind Jeptoo they included four Ethiopians - Tiki Gelana, Tirunesh Dibaba, Feyse Tadese and Aberu Kebede - as well as Edna and Florence Kiplagat and Ukraine's Tetyana Gamera.

A faster fifth mile saw most of the group come back together with the pacers but Gamera couldn't handle the injection of pace and lost touch, leaving just seven women remaining.

Marathon debutante Tirunesh Dibaba looked uncomfortable for a moment as the pace lifted a little but she stayed with the group and settled back into its rhythm.

The first shock of the race came at the 10km point when the 2012 Olympic Marathon champion Gelana started to struggle with the pace, eventually dropping back from the group to reduce it to six - three Kenyans (Jeptoo, Edna and Florence Kiplagat) and three Ethiopians (Dibaba, Tadese and Kebede).

A fast seventh mile of 5:07 saw Tadese and Kebede lose contact with the group too, leaving Jeptoo to lead the way with Kiplagat, Dibaba and Kiplagat strung out behind her, a stride between each runner.

And for the next 10 miles nothing much happened to disturb that order. Jeptoo stayed at the front, looking imperious, as the four women pushed on, taking on board drinks, and being expertly led by the pacers, who took them through halfway bang on schedule in 1:09:15.

Behind them Tadese and Kebede, running together, were 40 seconds back, with Gamera and Gelana together more than two minutes behind the leaders.

The four at the front went through 25km in 1:22:19 and continued to look comfortable, running roughly 5:20-mile pace, but with four of them in the group ­- and only three medals up for grabs - something had to give, and that something turned out, to everyone's surprise, to be Jeptoo.

Despite looking strong and running at the front, the reigning champion stopped suddenly, without warning, 17 miles into the race and stepped off the course, leaving the two Kiplagats running side by side with Dibaba a stride or two behind.

The Kenyan pair exchanged a few words but didn't seem in any hurry to make a move on their Ethiopian rival Dibaba - one of the greatest track runners of all time - as the three continued together with the pace slowing a little to 5:32 for mile 18 as they approached the 30km mark.

Then, like Mo Farah in the men's race, Dibaba showed her marathon inexperience by dropping her drinks bottle. She sensibly stopped to pick it up but the Kenyan pair sensed an opportunity to pull away and picked up the pace, putting in a 5:16 mile to widen the gap between them and Dibaba to around 20m.

With Florence leading the way, the Kenyan duo continued to look relaxed and talk to each other as they went through 35km in 1:56:07, with Dibaba hanging on 12 seconds back - neither closing the gap nor losing touch with them completely.

At the 22-mile mark, perhaps encouraged by the amazing London Marathon crowds lining the course, Florence Kiplagat lifted her pace for a few strides to test her opponent but Edna responded and the pair went through 23 miles in 2:03:53, matching each other stride for stride.

London's Embankment looked glorious in the spring sunshine as the Kenyan women collected their drinks without drama at the 40km mark, passing it in 2:13:02. Florence hung onto her drink for a while, perhaps offering a sign that she was running out of steam, while Dibaba held on in third, still 12 seconds behind the two leaders.

As the Kiplagats turned away from the River Thames and past Big Ben, they came shoulder-to-shoulder before Florence again tried to stride ahead. But Edna simply stuck to her shoulder as they made their way up Birdcage Walk towards Buckingham Palace.

"I tried to push Florence around 40km," said Edna after the race, "but she came with me every time so I knew I'd need to find some speed to beat her."

Virgin Money London Marathon - Sunday April 13, 2014: Edna Kiplagat made it third-time lucky after being runner up here for the last two years © Romilly Lockyer

Photo © Romilly Lockyer

On the final turn into The Mall, around 200m from the finish line, Florence took the racing line to cut Edna off but as the course opened up again the two-time runner-up Edna found another gear, sprinting away from Florence to cross the line three seconds ahead in 2:20:21. She looked delighted that her determination had finally paid off with a well- deserved win here.

Dibaba followed Florence home in third, finishing in 2:20:35 on her marathon debut. Her fellow Ethiopian Tedese finished strongly to come fourth in 2:21:42, with Kebede in fifth place behind her in 2:23:21.

London Olympic marathon champion Tiki Gelana finished a disappointing ninth.

After the race Dibaba, a three-time Olympic gold medallist, assessed her marathon debut, saying, "I'm happy to be on the podium today but I was disappointed to drop my drinks bottle. I am going to go back to the track but I will do another marathon I came third today and I like to win."

Edna Kiplagat revealed that Dibaba's marathon debut hadn't affected her in the run-up to the race: "Tirunesh is a great track runner but I didn't feel any extra pressure today," she said. "The marathon is different from other races; you need to have experience and prepare well."

The two British runners in the elite women's race fared better, with Amy Whitehead the first to cross the line in 2:34:19, just inside the 2:35 qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games.

Emma Stepto was the second British woman to finish today. The 44-year-old, who only took up running in her 30s, ran an impressive 2:36:03.

Women’s race report: Virgin Money London Marathon - Sunday April 13, 2014

Photos: Amy Whitehead and Emma Stepto

Women's elite results

1 Edna Kiplagat KEN 02:20:21
2 Florence Kiplagat KEN 02:20:24
3 Tirunesh Dibaba ETH 02:20:35
4 Feyse Tadese ETH 02:21:42
5 Aberu Kebede ETH 02:23:21


UK women's results

Amy Whitehead GBR 02:34:20
Emma Stepto GBR 02:36:05
Nicola Duncan IRL 02:33:28
Julie Briscoe GBR 02:39:43
Sara Bird GBR 02:39:55


Click here for full results


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