Joyciline Jepkosgei won her first Virgin London Marathon to claim her second World Marathon Majors race following her triumph at the New York Marathon in 2019.
For the first time in history the top five runners broke the 2:19 barrier. Degitu Azimeraw from Ethiopia finished second smashing her PB to 2:17:58. Azimeraw won the Amsterdam Marathon in 2019 in 2:19.26. Her compatriot Ashete Bekere completed the all-African podium taking third place in her PB 2:18:18 following her wins in Valencia in 2018 and in Rotterdam and Berlin in 2019. She set her previous PB of 2:20:14 in Berlin in 2019.
World record holder Brigid Kosgei, who was running her second marathon race just 57 days after winning the Olympic silver medal in Sapporo, crossed the finish-line in 2:18:40. Kosgei was aiming to become only the second woman to win three back-to-back London Marathon titles. Israel’s Lonah Salpeter completed the top-five with 2:18:54. For the first time five women finished inside the 2:19 in the same race.
The top nine runners dipped under the 2:23 barrier: Valary Jemely finished sixth in 2:20:35 ahead of Joan Chelimo Melly (2:21.23), Ethiopian runners Zeineba Yimer (2:21:40) and Tigist Girma (2:22:45). Charlotte Purdue was the first British runner home in 10th place in a PB of 2:23:26, just missing Mara Yamauchi’s second place on the British all-time list. Purdue set the qualifying standard for the 2022 World Championships in Eugene and moved to third in the British all-time list. She held a previous PB of 2:25:36 in London in 2019.
The leading group ran the first half of the women’s race at a sub-2:18 pace. Twelve women ran the first two 5 km splits in exactly 16:21 and went through the halfway mark in 1:08:51. They increased the pace between 20 and 30 km covering the 5km split between 20 and 25 km in 16:18 and the section between the 25 and 30 km in 16:10. Five runners were still in contention at 30 km. The women’s only world record set by Mary Keitany in London in 2017 was still within reach as the projected pace was 2:17:06 with 12 km to go.
Jepkosgei launched her decisive attack just before the 35 km mark and went on to cross the finish-line in 2:17:43.
Before moving to the marathon Jepkosgei set three world half marathon records. The 27-year-old Kenyan runner won the New York Marathon in 2:22:38 on her debut over the 42 km distance and finished second in Valencia in 2:18:40 last year.
Jepkosgei won the London race on the same day her 10 km world record was broken by Olympic 10000m silver medallis Kalkidan Gezahegne, who clocked 29:38 in Geneva improving Jepkosgei’s mark set in Prague 2017 by five seconds.
Joyciline Jepkosgei: “I am happy to win the race here. London is the best race in the world and this is my greatest achievement. I prepared very well in my training and I just kept my focus and tried to avoid any mistakes”.
Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma scored the biggest result of his career claiming the win in the men’s race in 2:04:01.
Lemma broke away at 38 km to take his first World Marathon Majors at the eight attempt following his third places in the 2019 Berlin Marathon in his PB of 2:03:36 and in last year’s edition of the London Marathon run on the closed St.James’s Park in 2:05:45.
Vincent Kipchumba repeated his second place from last year in 2:04:28 beating 2019 world silver medallist Mosinet Geremew, who crossed the finish-line in third place in 2:04.41 following his runner-up spot in 2019 in 2:02:55. Last year’s Valencia Marathon winner Evans Chebet took fourth place in 2:05:43 ahead of 2019 Berlin Marathon second placer Birhanu Legese (2:06:10). Last year’s London Marathon winner Shure Kitata from Ethiopia, who was hampered by a harmstring problem shortly before the Olympic Games, finished sixth in 2:07:51.
The leading pack formed by Vincent Kipchumba, Titus Ekiru and Evans Chebet from Kenya, Birhanu Legese, Mosinet Geremew and Sisay Lemma went through the 5 km in 14:33, 10 km in 29:13, 15 km 43:52 and the 21 km in 1:01:25. Kitata was running 1:25 behind the leading group.
Ekiru, who clocked the world seasonal best time with 2:02:57 in Milan last May, dropped out of the race at 30 km, as five men remained in contention for the win. Lemma made his decisive move at 38 km and his rivals could not respond, as the Ethiopian runner increased his lead in the final mile.
Lemma completed the 15th marathon race of his career. He recorded wins in Carpi in 2:11:58 in 2012, Warsaw in 2013 in 2:09:02, Frankfurt in 2:06:26 and Vienna in 2:07:31 in 2015, Lubljana in 2018 in 2:04:58, finished third in Berlin in 2019 in his PB of 2:03:36, Tokyo in 2:04:51 and London in 2:05:45 in 2020. Last year he was in contention for the win in London until the sprint final in the Mall, but he was narrowly beaten by Kitata and Kipchumba.
Marcel Hug from Switzerland claimed the wheelchair race for the third time in his career. Hug’s compatriot Manuela Schaer took the honours for the second time in the women’s wheelchair race.