Moments after crossing the line without that familiar slap of the winning strip on the waistcoat, Eliud Kipchoge attempted to make sense of the biggest shock in London History of the Marathon In truth, his version still sounded more disconcerting than what we had just witnessed on a bitter October Sunday in St James’s Park, as Shura Kitata came away with the win
The cold had not penetrated Kipchoge’s skin and had zapped his mind, insisted the Kenyan world record holder And the biblical rain also didn’t lead to his first defeat in seven years No – it was a blocked ear that had done for him
« I got it in the last 15 kilometers, » Kipchoge explained, body shaking uncontrollably as he spoke. « I felt that was not normal, so I tried to take some saliva to open my ear and breathe normally, but my right ear could not open This is how it is Then my hip and leg were really cramped I tried to stay warm and make sure I was done «
He paused, then tried to smile « I’m really disappointed but it’s sport » he said « That’s what normally happens in sport It’s not the end of the world It is not suicide for Eliud Kipchoge to be beaten I have more marathons I will come back «
After a year in which the pandemic toppled the world, perhaps we should have been warned that the old certainties were no longer true Yet it was shocking to see Kipchoge 2020ed so brutally
Initially there was no sign of what to expect The early pace lagged behind elite standards, with the lead group halfway through in 62.54 seconds, but Kipchoge looked comfortable
Still, it wasn’t a normal marathon Usually at some point in the second half of the race the Kenyan pulls away from the field But with only four miles left there were still nine men competing C had become a chicken game, no one wanted to take the first step
But when the Ethiopian Kitata hit the gas, Kipchoge suddenly started looking uncomfortable, shaking and grimacing as he tried to keep up. And although he never gave up, he was retired after 24 miles and only made it home in eighth in a modest 2:06:49, the second slowest time of his career.
Leading the way Kitata presented his huge promise of winning his first London Marathon in an exciting sprint After finishing fourth last year, Kitata confessed that he had run out of energy for the final kilometers because he had only eaten fruit for breakfast This time he looked full of beans, heading forward with four miles to go, before pushing back Vincent Kipchumba from Kenya to win in 2:05:41
« I’m very happy to win this race, for my county, for my group, for my teammates, » said Kitata, who was without her trainer Haji Adilo, who tested positive for Covid-19 last week
The women’s race, however, did not live up to its reputation as world record holder Brigid Kosgei comfortably sidelined world champion Ruth Chepngetich after making the leap after 20 miles for win more than three minutes in 2:18: 58
At the last kilometer, Chepngetich was running over the fumes and in the last strides American Sara Hall managed to pass her to finish second in 2:22:01 It was the first time a non-African had climbed on the women’s podium in the London Marathon since Yukiko Akaba of Japan in 2013
Afterwards, Chepngetich admitted that she had been affected by the temperatures, which struggled to double Admittedly, it was not as cold as in 2004, when he was only 5 years old 3C at the start, but this day was certainly the wettest London marathon in 39 years “I just got into chase mode,” said Hall “It really made that last lap go”
Meanwhile, Mo Farah, who led fellow Britons Jonny Mellor and Ben Connor to Olympic qualifying time, admitted he was stunned to see Kipchoge beaten
« It was a shock to all of us We expected him to win by miles, given the times he ran But it happens, it’s sport We’re human, and you can have a rest day «
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Marathon, London Marathon, Eliud Kipchoge, Brigid Kosgei
World news – UA – London Marathon: Kitata and Kosgei win as blocked ear defeats Kipchoge
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