On a new, faster course at today’s Tokyo Marathon, Wilson Kipsang met expectations with a masterful performance, falling just short of a world record but running the fastest time ever on Japanese soil in 2:03:58.
The 34-old now trails his Kenyan compatriot Eliud Kipchoge by nine points on the leaderboard of the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series X, which will conclude at the 2017 Boston Marathon in April.
Kipsang before the race was vocal about predicting he’d beat Dennis Kimetto’s 2:02:57 world record time – a mantle he lost in 2014. He said after the race he was feeling good during his run, but the wind prevented him from delivering a world record time.
During the marathon in sunny, cool conditions, Kipsang looked relaxed and confident as he pushed forward with several pacemakers. At the 10-, and 15-kilometer marks, and at the halfway point, he was on track for his goal of 2:02:50.
Dickson Chumba of Kenya stayed with him until 30K, and then at 40K Kipsang was on his own and slightly off world record pace as he made his way to break through the finish tape in front of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace.
On the final few twisty kilometers over some cobblestones, Gideon Kipketer (2:05:51) passed Chumba (2:06:25) to make it a Kenyan podium sweep.
The Kenyan kit also made its mark on the women’s podium, as Sarah Chepchirchir, who controlled the race from the start, notched 2:19:47, entering the Series X leaderboard with 25 points. The 32-year-old led home Ethiopians Birhane Dibaba (2:21:29) and Amane Gobena (2:23:09).
In the wheelchair race, the Series X victory lap of the Silver Bullet, Marcel Hug of Switzerland, came to an end as Japan’s Sho Watanabe edged out Hug at the finish with a time of 1:28:01. The majority of the men’s wheelchair competitors stayed in a pack on most of the course, until the last 100 meters, when Watanabe made his move to lead the sprint to the finish. Tomoki Suzuki of Japan came in third at 1:28:02.
In the women’s wheelchair race, Amanda McGrory of the United States notched her first Series X win, effortlessly crossing the tape in 1:43:27. She edged out Manuela Schar of Switzerland (1:43:27) and Susannah Scaroni (1:43:29).