Kenya's Wilson Kipsang ran the fastest-ever marathon on Japanese soil on Sunday to win the 2017 Tokyo Marathon.
The 34-year-old stormed to the front of the pack in pursuit of the world record, and while he was unable to better that benchmark, his time of two hours, three minutes and 58 seconds was enough to see him comfortably beat compatriots Gideon Kipketer and former champion Dickson Chumba.
In the women’s race there was another Kenyan victor, with Sarah Chepchirchir coming home in an impressive time of 2:19:47. She was too strong for the Ethiopian pair of Birhane Dibaba and Amane Gobena, who took second and third, respectively.
Here are the top three from the men’s and women’s races and a closer look at how the two events panned out.
|Tokyo Marathon 2017: Selected Results|
|Men's Race||Women's Race|
|1.||Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) - 2:03:58||Sarah Chepchirchir (Kenya) - 2:19:47|
|2.||Gideon Kipketer (Kenya) - 2:05:51||Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:21:19|
|3.||Dickson Chumba (Kenya) - 2:06:25||Amane Gobena (Ethiopia) - 2:23:09|
For full results check out the competition’s official website.
Having lost his world record to compatriot Dennis Kimetto in 2014—a time of 2:02:57 set in Berlin—Kipsang was clearly out to take back that landmark on Sunday.
The opportunity seemed to be there for him, as the revamped Tokyo course is geared toward some quicker times. After a strong start to the race, Kipsang was on target to best Kimetto’s time at the halfway point, with a string of rivals gradually falling out of the front group.
However, as the race moved into the final third, Kipsang began to slow slightly in comparison to Kimetto’s splits from three years ago.
Nevertheless, a comfortable win means Kipsang can add this landmark title to the marathons won in London, New York and Berlin, leading home a Kenyan top six. After his victory, he offered an explanation as to why he was unable to keep up the world-record pace.
“Today I was really feeling good and the course was very nice,” he said, per Reuters. “I really enjoyed it, and I was going for a world record. But I think it was a little bit windy, and that's why I couldn't run that time.”
He posted the following on social media after his victory:
Those wanting head-to-head action had to look further back down the field, as Kipketer and Chumba tussled. Eventually, the former swept past in the latter stages to take the second spot on the podium.
In the women’s race Chepchirchir made it a day to remember for Kenya, as she also posted the fastest time on Japanese soil.
Competing in a major marathon event for the first time, the 32-year-old showed the instincts of a veteran over the 26.2-mile distance, making her move with three quarters of the race run and leaving the rest of the field trailing.
In the end, she bettered the event record by dipping under the two-hour, 20-minute mark and shaving more than four minutes off her personal best.
Jonathan Gault of LetsRun.com thinks Chepchirchir has everything needed to be a major force over this distance and noted the progress she's made already in the marathon event:
Indeed, her margin of victory was indicative of the quality of performance put in. Chepchirchir was 92 seconds clear of Dibaba in second place, who ran away from Gobena and Marta Lema late in the race; Lema looked in a strong position to take third but slowed significantly in the final stages of a punishing race.