Sifan Hassan staged a remarkable rally to win the women’s London Marathon on Sunday in the Olympic track champion’s first race over the distance as Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum won the men’s race in the second-fastest time in history.
It looked as if Hassan’s debut marathon would end in disappointment when the 5,000 and 10,000 metres Olympic gold medallist from the Covid-delayed 2020 Tokyo Games was dropped from the leading group and left holding her side after the hour mark.
It would have been impressive enough had the Ethiopian-born Dutch runner, a Muslim who had been fasting due to Ramadan, just completed the course on the rainswept streets of the British capital, with Hassan then grabbing her hip and stopping to stretch off the injury.
Hassan, however, recovered to rejoin the leaders with three miles to go.
Despite making a mess of collecting a drink from a water station and almost being hit by a race motorcycle, the 30-year-old recovered and even offered rival Yalemzerf Yehualaw, last year’s winner, a swig from her bottle.
‘Can’t believe it’
Hassan, 30, then burst clear in a sprint finish to win in a time of 2 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds.
Ethiopia’s Alemu Megertu was second in 2:18:37, with Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir, the Olympic champion, third in 2:18:38.
This was the first time Jepchirchir had been defeated in a major marathon race.
“It was just amazing. I never thought I would finish a marathon and here I am winning it!” Hassan told the BBC.
Hassan, 28 seconds behind the leaders at 25km (15.5 miles), added: “I can’t believe it. I was going to stop at 25km.
“I had a problem with my hip, which made me stop. But it started to feel a little bit better.
“And then I missed one of the drinks stations! I didn’t practice that part of the race because I have been fasting and so that was quite difficult. But I needed it…I wasn’t thinking about winning or how fast I was going to be and I think that was a good thing for me today.”
The 23-year-old Kiptum broke the course record in an astonishing time of 2:01:25.
Having broken clear of the field, Kiptum — who became the third fastest male marathon runner of all time on his debut in Valencia in December — faded towards the finish and missed out on Eliud Kipchoge’s world record by 16 seconds.
Geoffrey Kamworor made it a Kenyan one-two, finishing second in 2:04:23, with Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola third in 2:04:59.
“I am so happy with the result,” Kiptum told the BBC. “I don’t know what to say right now, I am just grateful!
“The course felt good, there was a bit of rain around halfway but it was OK.
“I enjoy doing the marathons…I loved it, I am very happy.”
British distance great Mo Farah, in his last marathon before retirement, finished ninth in 2:10:28.
Farah, a four-time Olympic track champion, was not even the first Briton home.
Emile Cairess was sixth in 2:08:07, with Phil Sesseman overtaking Farah in the final few hundred metres.
“I gave it my all but my body just wasn’t responding, and that’s when you know when it’s time to call it a day,” said the 40-year-old Farah after confirming he will end his career at September’s Great North Run in northeast England.
Marcel Hug won a fifth men’s wheelchair race in London, just six days after taking the Boston Marathon title, with the Swiss star shattering his own course record in a time of 1:23:43.
Australia’s Madison de Rozario, the 2018 champion, won the women’s wheelchair race when she edged out four-time champion Manuela Schar in a sprint finish.
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