The 35th edition of the Virgin Money London Marathon saw a record 37,675 runners cross the finish line in The Mall, and victories for London Marathon debutants Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) and Tigist Tufa (ETH). The race also marked a marathon farewell for British running legend and world record holder, Paula Radcliffe.
The women's race took off under cool conditions and an overcast sky. It featured some of the best stars in elite running, including Kenya's �"fantastic four": Mary Keitany, Florence Kiplagat, Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo. A tight pack of women, including the fantastic four and Ethiopia's Tigist Tufa, Tirfi Tsegaye and Aselefech Mergia, hit the halfway mark in 1:11:42. Content to let the rabbits run ahead of them, the women's race was tactical and strategic from the gun.
Mile 22 marked a big turning point. Tsegaye stepped on the gas and Tufa went with her while a strong pack of Kenyan women remained in the hunt. Tsegaye and Tufa entered the Blackfriars Underpass shortly before the 24-mile mark, and Tufa emerged clearly ahead of her compatriot, looking comfortable and unstoppable. After a 5:05 24th mile and a 5:07 25th mile, Tufa was well on her way to capturing her first Abbott World Marathon Majors victory. She broke the tape first in 2:23:22.
A fight for second place transpired as Keitany and Tsegaye battled down the homestretch. Keitany beat Tsegaye by one second, 2:23:40 to 2:23:41. After a thrilling finish among the top three women, the crowds eagerly waited for Paula Radcliffe to finish her final London Marathon. After going out hard, Radcliffe maintained a steady tempo and finished to deafening cheers and a thunderous applause in 2:36:55.
The men's race, touted as the greatest field ever assembled, lived up to its pre-race hype. The field included the three quickest marathon runners of all time (on legitimate courses); five of the world's all-time top 10; and nine men in total who had run sub-2:05.
The race was billed as a �"clash of champions" between former world record holder and defending London Marathon champion, Wilson Kipsang and current world record holder, Dennis Kimetto (2:02:57). The field also featured Kenyan greats Emmanuel Mutai, Eluid Kipchoge and Geoffrey Mutai.
The men's race started more quickly than the women's race, but the field held back from running world record pace. Eight men came through the half in 1:02:20, including Kipsang, Kimetto, Kipchoge, E. Mutai, Stanley Biwott, Sammy Kitwara, Tsegaye Mekonnen and Tilahun Regassa. Over the next nine kilometers, the lead group shrunk to six. All six men ran with comfortable strides and it was unclear who would make the first move.
Kipsang finally started to push after 35K, dropping Kitwara and Regassa. Kimetto and Biwott hung on until the 24th mile, but they could not match the strength of Kipsang and Kipchoge. Kipsang and Kipchoge put on a speed show over the final seven kilometers of the race, and even after a 4:33 25th mile, both men continued to run stride-for-stride. With 800 meters to go, Kipchoge started to kick and with 400 meters to go, he finally looked unbeatable. Sensing victory, Kipchoge smiled and celebrated over the final 100 meters. He stopped the clock in 2:04:42. Kipsang followed five seconds later in 2:04:47. Kimetto finished more than a minute back in third, running 2:05:50.
Top 10 Men
1. Eliud Kipchoge (KEN), 2:04:42
2. Wilson Kipsang (KEN), 2:04:47
3. Dennis Kimetto (KEN), 2:05:50
4. Stanley Biwott (KEN), 2:06:41
5. Tilahun Regassa (ETH), 2:07:16
6. Sammy Kitwara (KEN), 2:07:43
7. Javier Guerra (ESP), 2:09:33
8. Ghebre Kibrom (ERI), 2:09:36
9. Aleksey Reunkov (RUS), 2:10:10
10. Serhiy Lebid (UKR), 2:10:21
Top 10 Women
1. Tigist Tufa (ETH), 2:23:22
2. Mary Keitany (KEN), 2:23:40
3. Tirfi Tsegaye (ETH), 2:23:41
4. Aselefech Mergia (ETH), 2:23:53
5. Florence Kiplagat (KEN), 2:24:15
6. Jemima Sumgong (KEN), 2:24:23
7. Priscah Jeptoo (KEN), 2:25:01
8. Ana Dulce Felix (POR), 2:25:15
9. Volha Mazuronak (BLR), 2:25:36
10. Rkia El Moukin (MAR), 2:26:33