Kenya went two-for-two as world-record holder Wilson Kipsang and two-time runner up Edna Kiplagat were victorious in the 2014 London Marathon on Sunday, with the former setting a new course record in 2:04:27.
British hopeful Mo Farah fell short of his ambitious goals of a top-five finish and a new British record, as the first-time runner finished in eighth place, with a time of 2:08:20, in what could be his only ever entry in the marathon distance.
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The women's race remained exciting until the very end, with Kiplagat going to the finish line with namesake Florence Kiplagat, defeating her compatriot with a strong push in the final sprint in front of Buckingham Palace in a time of 2:20:19.
Congratulations to Edna Kiplagat for winning the 2014 London Marathon women's race in 2hr 20 minutes 21 seconds #KenyanSportsQueen— Kenya Lioness (@kenyalioness) April 13, 2014
A big group followed the tempo set early by the pacemakers, with the group gradually falling apart as the Kenyans upped the tempo in the Docklands. Tirunesh Dibaba was the only runner able to keep track of the two experienced Kenyans, but a dropped bottle saw Dibaba lose 15 yards to the pair, and she was never able to close the gap.
The drop cost her dearly, and as shared by Daily Relay, she was all too aware of that:
Dibaba 12 seconds behind the Kiplagats at 35K. She did a stutter step to get her bottle this time. #LondonMarathon— Daily Relay (@dailyrelay) April 13, 2014
Florence Kiplagat tried to up the tempo once nearing Big Ben, but both athletes seemed content going to the line together, with Edna Kiplagat finally winning here in London following consecutive finishes as runner-up.
The men's race wasn't nearly as exciting, as favourite Wilson Kipsang crossed the finish line all by himself, having taken care of Stanley Biwott well before the turn at St James' Park.
Haile Gebrselassie and his fellow pacemakers set an excruciating early tempo, with a group of runners separating itself from the rest of the pack early. As shared by Sports Scientists' Ross Tucker, the early splits were far too quick for any serious attempt at the word records time of 2:03:23.
Men's pace is way too fast - 14:21 for 5km, projects 2:01:06. London is fast at the start though, so waiting on next splits. Farah 27s back— Ross Tucker (@Scienceofsport) April 13, 2014
Farah was one of the many runners unable (or unwilling) to follow the early pace, chasing a 45-second gap with the front group for much of the first part of the race. The hometown favourite settled on an early pace and put together an all-round solid effort, but as shared by Bleacher Report, he was still disappointed with the end result:
He did however promise he'd be back, undoubtedly hoping to better the new English record he set on his very first try:
The quick start eventually took its toll on the group up front, as one by one runners started to fade into the background. Biwott was the only runner able to keep up with the mercurial Kipsang, but with Big Ben in sight, even he had to acknowledge the world-record holder was simply untouchable on Sunday.
Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede, who won last year's event, would complete the podium as the top two truly put together an epic show, as shared by The Telegraph:
Wilson Kipsang wins men's #LondonMarathon. For the first time ever two men have run under 2:05 in London. Stanley Biwott second in 2:04:54— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) April 13, 2014
But the promise that Farah will be back will no doubt take the headlines in the local press, and while some (mainly the runner himself) will be disappointed at his time after all of the buildup in recent weeks, a new English record in his very first go is nothing to scoff at.
The 31-year-old athlete won gold medals at the 2012 Olympics in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres, and the switch to the marathon (26 miles) makes for an enormous difference.
The fact the English runner was even able to make the top 10 in one of the strongest fields ever assembled in London is an incredible accomplishment, and Farah should view Saturday's result as a first step as he tries to make it as a marathon runner.
With proper training and more experience, there's no reason not to believe Farah could make the top five or even better next year, before going back to the shorter distances in preperation of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
If anything, Farah showed everyone on Saturday that his adventure in the longer distances is only just beginning, and a top 10 finish in London is the perfect starting point for the 31-year-old.