KENYA’S Peres Jepchirchir crosses the finish line to win the London Marathon on Sunday.—AFP
KENYA’S Peres Jepchirchir crosses the finish line to win the London Marathon on Sunday.—AFP

LONDON: Reigning Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir crushed the women’s-only world record in winning the 44th London Marathon on Sunday, while Kenyan compatriot Alexander Mutiso Munyao pulled away from Ethiopian distance great Kenenisa Bekele to win the men’s race.

The 30-year-old Jepchirchir crossed the finish line in front of Buckingham Palace in two hours 16 minutes 16 seconds to break Mary Keitany’s mark of 2:17:01 set in a women-only race at the 2017 London event.

Jepchirchir pulled away from a group of four in a sprint finish before collapsing to her knees in tears having beaten the fastest field of women ever assembled.

“I thought the race would be fast and that the record would go, but I was not expecting it to be me,” Jepchirchir said. “It’s because I believe in myself. As I crossed the finish line, I thought about how grateful I am for this to be my last event representing Kenya before I head to Paris (Olympics).”

Munyao, 27, who was pushed by Bekele until the final couple of kilometres, won the men’s race in 2:04.01, pumping his fist several times en route to the biggest victory of his career.

The 41-year-old Bekele — who has raced to three Olympic titles on the track and a remarkable 17 world titles in outdoor and indoor track and cross-country — was second in 2:04.15.

Emile Cairess took third in 2:06.46, all but clinching his spot on Britain’s Olympic team.

Thirty seconds of applause marked the start of the men’s race in memory of world record-holder and last year’s winner Kelvin Kiptum, who died in a car accident in February, at the age of 24.

Tigst Assefa of Ethiopia, who clocked 2:11.53 at the Berlin Marathon in September to set a world record for women in a race alongside male runners, crossed second in the women’s race in 2:16.23.

Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya, the 2021 London winner, was third in 2:16.24.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2024

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