Eliud Kipchoge showed he is mortal after all, the marathon’s alpha male finally toppled in his Nike Alphaflys at Sunday’s London Marathon. Shura Kitata stuns Kipchoge to win London Marathon men’s elite race.
By MATT MAJENDIE
Only once before had the world record holder lost in 12 previous marathons and that – his second ever in Berlin in 2013 – had required a world record to beat him.
But in wet and windy conditions, there was never any danger of world-record pace. In fact, it was the slowest marathon Kipchoge had ever run outside of the Olympics as Shura Kitata proved the surprise winner of the men’s race.
But in truth this was less about the winner and more about the previous infallibility of Kipchoge, the greatest marathon runner of all time and the first man under two hours in the Ineos 1:59 stunt in Vienna last month.
Kipchoge had been setting out to become the oldest winner of the men’s race but it became increasingly clear from the halfway point that the usual smiles were absent, replaced by repeated grimaces.
The remaining eight runners in the leading pack sensed Kipchoge was struggling and upped the pace gradually, Kipchoge dropping 20 metres very rapidly with just two laps to go of the enclosed, 19.6-lap course inside St James’ Park.
That group was whittled down on the last lap to just three runners: Kitata, Sisay Lemma and Vincent Kipchumna and the trio turned onto The Mall neck and neck and all with a shot at the win.
But Lemma was the first to crack as Kipchumna went side by side and stride for stride to the line, Ethiopian Kitata going one better than he had as runner-up in the same race behind Kipchoge in 2018.
Kipchoge, meanwhile, had to do with a lowly eighth place.
Further down the road, Mo Farah (below) switched from being a potential marathon contender as in the past to acting as a glorified pacemaker for the British runners in their bid to achieve the Olympic qualifying time.
It proved a success as both Jonny Mellor and Ben Connor, in his first marathon, dipped under the required time but Mellor proving the British title winner.
But in what was the 40th running of the race albeit in bizarre circumstances and behind closed doors without the usual mass field on the streets of London, the toppling of Kipchoge was arguably its biggest ever shock.