Shura Kitata of Ethiopia outkicked two others in the final stretch to win Sunday’s London Marathon in 2:05:41. Defending champion and world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge had the most difficult race of his career, placing eighth in 2:06:49.
Behind Kitata, Vincent Kipchumba of Kenya was second in 2:05:42, and Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia placed third in 2:05:45.
The sole American in the 39-man field, 2016 Olympian Jared Ward, placed 17th in 2:12:38.
In lieu of the usual London course, the race was held over 19.6 laps of a biosecure bubble inside St. James Park.
The planned pace of 61:00 at halfway, which would have put Kipchoge in range to challenge his world record of 2:01:39, never materialized. The large pack went through halfway in 62:55. Nine men were still in contention went the last pacemaker dropped out in the 17th mile.
When the pace got even slower around 35K, Kitata moved to the front and began to push. Within a few minutes, Kipchoge started to drift to the back of the eight-man pack; he lost contact for good soon after. Kitata kept the pressure on as the pack dwindled to five, then four, and finally down to the three eventual top finishers with 600 meters to go.
The three entered the final stretch together on The Mall. Kitata, who narrowly lost a sprint finish at the 2018 New York City Marathon, had the best kick today.
Before today, Kipchoge’s only loss in a marathon came in his second, Berlin in 2013, when he placed second to a then-world record by Wilson Kipsang. Kipchoge, 35, went to London hoping to become the race’s first five-time winner.
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