The 2015 London Marathon for men had been billed as a contest between World Record holder Dennis Kimetto and 2014 winner Wilson Kipsang who was seeking his third victory in the race. However, both Kenyans were eclipsed by fellow compatriot Eliud Kipchoge who was appearing in the London race for the first time with Tigist Tufa claiming the ladies equivalent for Ethiopia.
With damp and cool conditions prevailing in London, the elite men’s race began with two pacemakers leading a group of ten athletes for much of the first 25 kilometres of the contest. A respectable pace was maintained for the opening half of the race with the leaders passing the 13.1mile point in 1.02.19 which was slightly slower than expected but on a par with the time of the 2014 renewal.
As the leaders approached the 21 mile marker, just six athletes remained in contention as thoughts of winning the race rather than breaking the World Record began to take precedence. Just three miles later, Kipsang and Kipchoge had developed a clear lead from the pursuing Kimetto but it was becoming apparent that the Kipsang would need to produce a long surge for home to prevent his Kenyan colleague from using his superior sprinting speed at the end of the race. That surge never materialised as Kipchoge claimed his fourth marathon victory in five attempts at the distance in a time of 2:04:42 with Kipsang a further a further five seconds adrift.
Unlike Kipsang who has concentrated on long distance road running for most of his athletics career, Kipchoge was also a successful track athlete. He clinched the 5,000 metres World Championship at Paris in 2003 and gradually progressed into becoming a marathon runner, culminating in winning the 2013 Hamburg Marathon at his first attempt at the distance in a time of 2.05.30. He was subsequently beaten by Kipsang in Berlin when a new World Record was established.
A more experienced Kipchoge has since won marathons in Rotterdam and Chicago before gaining his revenge on Kipsang on Sunday and a new World Record time may be his ultimate aim either in the summer World Championships or an autumn marathon, with the fast Berlin route a likely target.
The World Record time of 2:15:25 was never threatened in the ladies London Marathon with eight athletes still in contention for victory at the 22 mile marker of a slowly run race. With just over three miles remaining, Ethiopian athletes Tirfi Tsegaye and Tigist Tufa finally decided to inject some pace which Tufa maintained to the finish to secure a winning time of 2:23:22 with Kenyan runner and twice former London winner Mary Keitany just beating Tsegaye for second place.
The London marathon course, with its several twists and turns, may no longer be conducive for breaking World Records at the distance but the calibre of athletes attracted to the events usually allows for a competitive race among the elite runners with the thousands of charity runners adding to its popularity.