Shura Kitata stunned the athletics world on Sunday, winning the London Marathon and handing Eliud Kipchoge his first loss in seven long years.
It proved 13th time unlucky as world record holder Kipchoge fluffed his lines in Sunday's race, won in a thrilling sprint finish by Ethiopian Kitata.
The coronavirus-hit marathon, limited to elite runners and with no crowds, was the first Kipchoge hasn’t won since finishing second in Berlin in 2013.
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He had won all 11 others he raced in, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Dropped at the 38km mark of the 42.2km race, Kipchoge could only watch from a distance as Kitata outpaced Kenyan Vincent Kipchumba in the final strait to win in 2hr 05min 41sec. Ethiopian Sisay Lemma took third.
Originally due to be run in April, the London Marathon was rescheduled to October because of the coronavirus pandemic that has seen many top track and field events either cancelled or postponed, most notably the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Rather than the usual mazy run through the streets of the British capital, the course was made up of 19 1.5-mile loops around St James Park, with the iconic Buckingham Palace framing the finish line.
The men’s race had been touted as a showdown between Kenyan legend Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, arguably the best track athlete in the world.
But Bekele pulled out Friday with a calf injury, taking the gloss of what would have been a battle for the ages.
Instead, Kipchoge seemed to have missed the hot pace he is used to, meaning a lead pack of eight runners unusually remained in the running late into the race, held in cold, rainy conditions.
Having to negotiate the curves of the looped course, the pace fell well below the personal bests of the leading peloton. Fireworks were promised at the end, and so it proved.
The podium finishers came into the final kilometre three abreast.
Lemma was dropped as Kipchumba surged, but Kitata somehow found a last drop of energy to reel the Kenyan in and keep his nose in front to win by a second in a dramatic finish.
“Kenenisa Bekele was helping me for this race and he advised me how to run. I trained for the same course, I am very happy to win the race,” Kitata told BBC.
Brigid Kosgei prevails in women’s race
There was some joy for Kenya, however, as Brigid Kosgei retained the women’s London Marathon title, producing a brilliant solo run to claim a fourth career win in the event.
Kosgei clocked 2hr 18min 58sec, crossing the line ahead of American Sara Hall, who timed a personal best of 2:22.01.
Kenya's world champion Ruth Chepngetich rounded out the podium, just 4sec adrift of Hall.
Kosgei, the women's world record holder in the marathon and also twice a winner of the Chicago Marathon, cut loose from Chepngetich on the 18-mile mark and kept her rhythm as she lapped many backmarkers en route to the finish line.
“The weather is not good. So we struggled,” Kosgei, said of the rainy, cold conditions.
“It's wonderful to race,” she told BBC. “We have not prepared well due to the pandemic. I struggled up to the moment I finished.
“I will be well prepared for good results next year.”
All great champions have their off days..Eliud Kipchoge you’re still our hero..we humbly take the silver medal..Vincent Kipchumba 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 thank you..🇰🇪 all the way..💪🏽💪🏽— Churchill (@MwalimChurchill) October 4, 2020
Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata wins the 2020 London Marathon in 2:05:41 in a battle against Kenya’s Vincent Kipchuma at the very end.— Chris Chavez (@ChrisChavez) October 4, 2020
Eliud Kipchoge’s reign has ended. He was dropped before 40K and finishes eighth in 2:06:49. pic.twitter.com/SHhYer7Wcy
Eliud Kipchoge finishes in 8th place at the highly anticipated and eventually dramatic #LondonMarathon.— Usher Komugisha (@UsherKomugisha) October 4, 2020
Bad day in the office for the Olympic champion. His personal worst performance. Tough one for him. Dethroned. pic.twitter.com/o8LuYHZGqt
Kipchoge just got 2020'd— Cathal Dennehy (@Cathal_Dennehy) October 4, 2020
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