Eliud Kipchoge destroyed the Virgin Money London Marathon course record to claim his fourth London victory and move into first place on the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XII leaderboard.
The Kenyan stopped the clock at 2:02:37 to claim the second fastest time in history, to add to his 2:01:39 world record set at the BMW Berlin Marathon in September 2018.
Kipchoge controlled the race from start to finish and swiftly put to bed the pre-race talk that home crowd hopeful Mo Farah would present his strongest challenge.
The Briton was in touch with the leaders until halfway, but the sub-2:03 pace being set was way in advance of Farah’s sub 2:06 run. That brought him the Bank of America Chicago title in October.
As Farah fell away, the leading group was down to Kipchoge and Ethiopian trio of Shura Kitata, Mosinet Geremew and Mule Wasihun.
Kitata, who had been out-kicked by Lelisa Desisa to finish second at the TCS New York City Marathon in November, was surprisingly the first to crack, losing touch as they attacked the gradient taking them on to the Embankment.
It looked at that stage as though Kipchoge had a sprint on his hands. But he has been here so many times before, and he threw in his fastest mile of the race, a 4:30 for the 25th mile segment.
It was enough to see his final two challengers fade into his rear-view mirrors and leave the king of the marathon to soak up the adulation of the grandstands on The Mall.
As he did so, he wrote another chapter of his incredible story to run the first sub 2:03 marathon seen on the streets of London and confirm what everyone already knew: he is the greatest marathon runner of all time.
There was double delight for Kenya as Brigid Kosgei claimed the women’s race in a personal best 2:18:20. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion has out herself in a strong position to take the AbbottWMM Series XII title when the series finishes in Berlin in September.
The first half of the women’s contest was run at a surprisingly slower pace than expected, but when it began to break up, Kosgei and defending London champion Vivian Cheruiyot were left as the two athletes fighting it out for the lead.
As the pace quickened, Kosgei was able to desert her rival at the second attempt to get away, and the gap quickly became un-bridgeable for Cheruiyot.
All that was left for Kosgei to do was beat the clock, which she did with room to spare underneath her Chicago time of 2:18:35.