Ethiopia’s great running legends Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba came close but fall short of sweeping London Marathon to Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru and Mary Keitany respectively. Kenenisa Bekele finished second in a time of 02:05:57 and Tirnuesh Dibaba finished second in the women’s race in a time of 02:17:56, making her the third fastest woman in the world after improving Ethiopia’s women marathon record previously held by Tiki Gelana by more than 1 minute.
Olympic Silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa finished 12th in a time of 02:14:12
Wanjiru was firmly ensconced in the group through halfway in 1:01:43 but at this point, arguable pre-race favourite Kenenisa Bekele was beginning to fall off the pace.
At 30km, Bekele was 18 seconds adrift of a leading group of five athletes including Wanjiru, but once the Kenyan made his break with 4:52 in the 21st mile, the Ethiopian began to reel in those ahead of him.
Bekele passed two-time world champion Abel Kirui just after the 35km checkpoint and then Karoki came into sight. The gap to Wanjiru had reduced to 14 seconds but the Kenyan was not fatiguing, nor was he daunted by the looming presence of the world 5000m and 10,000m record-holder who made up a significant gap on Wilson Kipsang to win the Berlin Marathon last September.
“I was not scared because in a competition, anything can happen,” said Wanjiru, who had kept something in reserve. “You have to plan what to do if someone is coming from behind.”
The gap between Wanjiru and Bekele reduced to five seconds for a while but Wanjiru, who was contesting his fourth marathon to date, was still running strongly and held Bekele off with a brilliant finishing mile of 4:27.
Wanjiru crossed the finish-line on The Mall in 2:05:48 and while Bekele had to settle for second in 2:05:57, the Ethiopian was upbeat after the race.
“I’m happy I finished this race. Of course, after Dubai, I lost some weeks because of injury so for me, coming back from injury and competing like this is encouraging for later races,” said Bekele, alluding to his fall at the Dubai Marathon in January which caused him to drop out.
A podium finish seemed improbable at halfway when Bekele began to lose ground. After the race, Bekele explained he developed blisters on his feet at about the 15km mark and said he “changed his style to protect it” which led to hamstring problems in his right leg. After 30km, Bekele said he was “feeling better and I increased the pace.”
“I know Mary is a fast runner and I was following my own pace and until halfway, I was on track but I was never expecting she would go that fast and maintain it,” said an incredulous Tirunesh Dibaba after the race.
Tirunesh Dibaba was running at a fantastic pace in just her second marathon, but after such a fast start she had to stop due to stomach cramps in the 23rd mile. She quickly gathered herself, but in spite of her fantastic credentials over the shorter distances there was no way she was going to catch Keitany.
Dibaba rallied in the closing stages to finish second in 2:17:56, taking more than a minute from Tiki Gelana’s Ethiopian record and becoming the third-fastest woman in history.
“I haven’t decided yet but my gut feeling is I’ll be running the 10,000m on the track,” said Dibaba on her plans for the IAAF World Championships London 2017 this summer.
Men’s Race – Finish time
|1||Daniel WANJIRU (KEN)||02:05:48|
|2||Kenenisa BEKELE (ETH)||02:05:57|
|3||Bedan KAROKI (KEN)||02:07:41|
|4||Abel KIRUI (KEN)||02:07:45|
|5||Alphonce SIMBU (TAN)||02:09:10|
|6||Ghirmay GHEBRESLASSIE (ERI)||02:09:57|
|7||Asefa MENGSTU (ETH)||02:10:04|
|8||Amanuel MESEL (ERI)||02:10:44|
|9||Javier GUERRA (ESP)||02:10:55|
|10||Michael SHELLEY (AUS)||02:11:38|
Women’s Race – Finish time
|1||Mary KEITANY (KEN)||02:17:01|
|2||Tirunesh DIBABA (ETH)||02:17:56|
|3||Aselefech MERGIA (ETH)||02:23:08|
|4||Vivian CHERUIYOT (KEN)||02:23:50|
|5||Lisa WEIGHTMAN (AUS)||02:25:15|
|6||Laura THWEATT (USA)||02:25:38|
|7||Helah KIPROP (KEN)||02:25:39|
|8||Tigist TUFA (ETH)||02:25:52|
|9||Florence KIPLAGAT (KEN)||02:26:25|
|10||Jessica TRENGOVE (AUS)||02:27:01|
Source: London Marathon
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