London Marathon 2024: Peres Jepchirchir smashes women's only world record, Munyao wins men's race

Posted by: Watch Athletics

Peres Jepchirchir from Kenya, Olympic champion and three-time world half marathon champion, triumphed in the women's race at the 44th edition of the London Marathon, setting a new women’s-only world record with a time of 2:16:16. She shattered the previous record by 45 seconds. Jepchirchir also outpaced Tigst Assefa, the women's mixed world record holder (2:11:53), by several seconds.

The race began with a lead pack containing all the top contenders. They passed the 5 km mark in 15:44, setting a pace that projected a sub-2:13 finish. The pack covered the first 10 km in 31:26. By the time they reached the halfway point, the lead group had shrunk to seven runners with a split time of 1:07:04—the second fastest half-marathon split in London's history.

Olympic silver medalist Brigid Kosgei was the first to fall behind as a group of six women broke away after the halfway point. This group comprised Jepchirchir, Assefa, Dubai Marathon champion Tigist Ketema, 2022 London Marathon winner Yalemzerf Yehualaw, 2021 London Marathon winner Joyciline Jepkosgei, and 2023 London Marathon runner-up Megertu Alemu. As the race progressed, Ketema and Yehualaw lost contact with the lead group, leaving Jepchirchir, Assefa, Jepkosgei, and Megertu Alemu to battle for the top spots.

The four leading women ran together until the final kilometer, when Alemu fell behind as Jepchirchir, Assefa, and Jepkosgei picked up the pace.

Jepchirchir, who won Olympic gold in Sapporo in 2021, made her move in the last 300 meters, finishing ahead of Ethiopia's Tigist Assefa, who clocked 2:16:23, just one second ahead of Joyciline Jepkosgei. All three, along with Megertu Alemu from Ethiopia, broke the previous women's-only world record set by Kenya's Catherine Ndereba with 2:17:01 at the London Marathon.

This London Marathon marked the first 42 km race where the top four women all broke the 2:17 barrier.

Jepchirchir's victory in London secured her spot in the Paris Olympics. This was her third win in a World Marathon Major after her victories in New York in 2021 and Boston in 2022. The Kenyan athlete aims to become the first-ever back-to-back Olympic gold medalist in the women's marathon.

"I am feeling grateful. I am so happy. I was not expecting that. I knew that we were going to break the record but I was not expecting it. When I was at 40 km, I said: ‘Let’s relax. Then at 41 km I would accelerate or wait until 600 metres. It means a lot to me because last year I was expecting to win. Unfortunately, I did not win but I was happy too. This year I am so happy. This is the last event for Kenya to select the team. When I crossed the finish-line, I knew that I was going to defend my title in Paris. I am happy to qualify for the Olympic Games and I feel grateful. I am happy to be in Paris and my prayer is to be there and run well to defend my title. I know it won’t be easy but I will try my best”, said Peres Jepchirchir. 

Kenya won six of the past seven editions of the women’s marathon in London. The African country suffered the only defeat in London last year, when Sifan Hassan triumphed on her debut over the distance.

Mutiso holds off Bekele to clinch victory in the men’s race

Kenya's Alexander Mutiso Munyao broke away from Kenenisa Bekele with just over 2 km to go, ultimately crossing the finish line in 2:04:01.

A lead pack of twelve athletes started at a rapid pace, reaching the 5 km mark in 14:35 and the 10 km mark in 29:03. Munyao, Bekele, 2022 World Champion Tamirat Tola from Ethiopia, and 2021 Chicago Marathon winner Seifu Tura were among those in the leading group. Ten runners hit the halfway point at 21 km with a time of 1:01:29, maintaining a gap of 80 seconds ahead of Emilie Cairess, who was in 13th place.

Eight athletes remained in the lead pack at the 30 km mark, and the group was eventually reduced to five—Munyao, Bekele, Tola, Dawit Wolde, and Milkesa Mengesha—with 1 hour 30 minutes on the clock.

Shortly after, a leading trio of Bekele, Munyao, and Mengesha pulled away from Tola and Wolde. However, Mengesha couldn't keep up, indicating that the London Marathon title would be decided between Munyao and Bekele.

Mutiso and Bekele were locked in a head-to-head battle until the Kenyan runner surged along the River Thames with 4 km left, at the 1-hour 55-minute mark. Mutiso quickly built a six-second lead and continued to widen the gap as he headed toward the finish line near Buckingham Palace.

Bekele finished 14 seconds behind Mutiso with a time of 2:04:15, setting a record as the fastest runner over the age of 40. The 41-year-old Ethiopian had previously been runner-up at the London Marathon in 2017. Now, Bekele must wait to find out if he will be selected for the Ethiopian team at the Paris Olympic Games.

Tamirat Tola was one of the runners who fell behind after Mutiso and Bekele's breakaway.

Several of the top contenders dropped out in the final stages of the race.

Emile Cairess from Great Britain finished in 2:06:46, becoming the second-fastest British runner of all time and the first British athlete to reach the podium at the London Marathon since Mo Farah in 2018. Mahamed Mahamed, also from Great Britain, secured fourth place with a personal best of 2:07:05

“At 40 km I got some pressure from Bekele but I had a lot of confidence because I trained for this race. After 40 km I thought I had enough energy to win. That’s why I kicked and I knew I would win”, said Munyao.

Marcel Hug from Switzerland won the London Marathon wheelchair for the fifth time in 1:28:35. Catherine Debrunner from Switzerland claimed the win in the women’s wheelchair race in 1:38:54.

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