"It’s a surprise when everybody tells me I’ve made history, but
I’m just pleased to be part of the £1 billion for charity
event," he added, dutifully referring to the London Marathon’s
own record-breaking fundraising achievement.
Yet this wasn’t a
parade for the 34-year-old Kenyan master, for he had to draw on
all his racing nous and mental strength to secure the victory
ahead of a trio of swift young Ethiopians, who stuck to his tail
until the 40km point.
It was Mosinet Geremew who hung on longest and the
27-year-old was rewarded with a runner-up place and an Ethiopian
record of 2:02:55 – the fastest ever second place time and third
best of all-time, while Mule Wasihun also entered the world top
10, placing third in 2:03:16.
It was the first time in history two men have gone under 2:03
in the same race, as Geremew moved to second on the world
As for Farah, the Chicago Marathon champion simply couldn’t
stay with the pace. After finishing third in 2018, Farah again
followed last year’s runner-up Shura Kitata under the gantry,
placing fifth in 2:05:39, less than 30 seconds outside his
"After 20 miles a gap was there that became harder to close,"
"I tried to reel them in but the wheels came off and I was
just hanging on at the end.
"I’m disappointed because training’s gone well."
Farah insisted his controversial build-up this week hadn’t
affected his performance.
Indeed, he seemed utterly relaxed at the Start Line, waving
his arms to the crowd as his name was announced.
Pacemakers Eric Kiptanui, Stephen Kiprop and Gideon Kipketer
led the pack away under overcast skies with Kipchoge immediately
taking his customary spot a step behind.
He had set his sights on lowering his own course record of
2:03:05 and conditions were good for the challenge, with cool
temperatures, light cloud and a moderate headwind – a welcome
change from the record heat of 12 months ago.
The target was to reach halfway in 61 minutes 20 seconds and
they were just behind schedule at 5km in 14:23, a steady start
before they turned east through Woolwich, Kipchoge looking
effortless in his hat, welcome protection against the chilly
Kitata hung on to Kipchoge’s heels for all but the last two
miles in 2018, and he seemed intent on doing the same this time,
striding shoulder-to-shoulder with the master as nine men
followed the pacers into Greenwich where they passed 10km in
29:01, matching Kipchoge’s split during his world record run
Wasihun and Geremew were also prominent, while Farah was at
the tail of the group, seemingly adopting the well-practiced
tactics that have brought him four Olympic and six world titles
on the track.
They hit 15km in 43:42, on a for sub-2:03 finish, and clipped
past the 10-mile point in Rotherhithe in 46:52, Kipchoge’s focus
fixed on the wall of pacers’ backs ahead of him.
That’s how it stayed as they swept through Bermondsey and
swung right over Tower Bridge passing 20km in 58:25.
There were still nine together as they hit half way in 61:37,
but that soon changed as the leaders threw in a 4:32 mile and
six opened a gap on the rest, leaving Farah four or five seconds
This was the first significant move of the race, a sustained
surge at the front as Kipchoge shrugged off the pacemakers and
took four Ethiopians with him onto the Isle of Dogs.
The king now had the quadruple in his sights and the course
record in his legs.
Still wearing white arms bands, the Kenyan looked as serene
as ever, Kitata a step behind over his right shoulder, Geremew
to his left and Wasihun between the two.
The champion gestured for one of them to do their bit at the
front, but these were men hanging on at a pace no one has ever
run here before.
He took them into the twists and turns of Canary Wharf, and
led the field through 30km in 1:27:04 after a 14:26 5km split,
the quickest of the race.
The quartet of leaders turned into the westerly breeze with
three podium places up for grabs.
Again Kipchoge gestured for help; again his rivals refused.
History beckoned for the world’s greatest, but they weren’t
going to make it easy.
Behind them Britain’s greatest was trying to claw his way
back into contention, now in fifth, 46 seconds off the pace as
Kipchoge passed 35km in 1:41:55 (14:51) and headed down The
Highway with a trio of shadows stuck to his heels.
Now it was a battle of mental and physical strength, and no
one has more of both than Kipchoge.
A year ago, Kitata was the last to hold on, sticking to
Kipchoge till Blackfriars underpass.
This time he was the first to slip back, but the world record
holder still had two with him as they emerged onto Victoria
He kicked again and Wasihun lost touch.
He moved to his right to take a last welcome drink, and
Geremew was gone.
Kipchoge now opened his legs to pass 40km in 1:56:20 with a
two-second lead after a 4:30 25th mile.
At last a thin smile began to show on his face and he knew
the race was his.
Yet again, he’d led from start to finish; yet again, he’d
proved to be supreme.
Now running freely in glorious isolation, he strode through
Parliament Square, around St James’s Park and onto The Mall,
saluting the cheering crowds on both sides as he broke the tape
with his arms outstretched at his sides.
"It was a very tactical race as everyone was there," he said.
"But I know how to win this race and I was confident.
"I didn’t feel it was in doubt at any point.
"The crowd in London is wonderful. In the last kilometer,
when everyone is shouting, it’s just amazing.
|It made me so happy to cross the line."
Behind the medallists, Farah’s training partner Bashir Abdi
took the Belgian record with 2:07:03, while Callum Hawkins was
the second Briton home in a huge personal best of 2:08:14,
clinching World Championship and Tokyo Olympic qualification in