History belongs to Kipchoge once again
Eliud Kipchoge pocketed his fourth Abbott World Marathon Majors race win with a masterful performance at the Tokyo Marathon.
The time of 2:02:40 is the fastest marathon ever run on Japanese soil. Wherever he goes, the records seem to fall at the 37-year-old’s feet.
The double Olympic champion coped with a momentary lapse as he took a wrong turn near the 10km mark when the leading pack veered right instead of left, but the blip was a distant memory by the time Kipchoge coasted home in the shadow of Tokyo station.
On a sun-drenched day in the Japanese capital, Kipchoge had a pack of eight for company as they strode through halfway, but 10km later they were down to three, with Amos Kipruto the only man to stay with the Kenyan into the championship miles.
But the younger man could not sustain a pace he had not mixed with before once Kipchoge began to turn the screws, and he eventually finished 33 seconds back, still in an astonishingly quick time of 2:03:13.
Tamirat Tola was third in 2:04:14.
History was also made in the women’s race as Brigid Kosgei returned to winning ways with a 2:16:02 that will also go down as the quickest women’s time ever run in Japan.
Kosgei blamed the wind for hampering her efforts to threaten her own world record of 2:14:04, but now has three separate AbbottWMM titles to her name and reasserted her credentials as one of the world’s best having settled for silver in Sapporo in last year’s Olympic marathon.
She was followed home by a pair of BMW BERLIN-MARATHON champions from 2019 and 2020 in Ethiopians Ashete Bekere (2:17:58) and Gotytom Gebreslase (2:18:18).
Kipchoge now requires wins in Boston and New York City to complete his mission, while Kosgei is also one step closer to the same goal. Berlin, Boston and New York are left on her AbbottWMM hit list.
One man who already has wins in all six cities is Marcel Hug. The Swiss Silver Bullet showed no signs of slowing down as he romped to a win by nearly seven minutes over Japan's Tomoki Suzuki in the men's wheelchair race, plundering the extra eight sprint points as well.
The reigning AbbottWMM Series champion has known nothing other than first place in Japan since winning here in 2019.
The women's wheelchair race was a contest between two Japanese athletes in the absence of an overseas field, and it saw Tsubasa Kina retain the title she won in 2020 under similar circumstances. Second place Wakako Tsuchida scored the consolation of eight bonus points for the sprint point at 13km.
Boston is the second race in Series XIV on April 18.