Kosgei retains her crown as Kitata beats Kipchoge
Shura Kitata and Brigid Kosgei claimed the elite men’s and women’s titles at the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon today, as Eliud Kipchoge’s remarkable marathon winning streak came to an end on the rain-splattered roads around St James’s Park.
Kitata triumphed in a thrilling three-way sprint ahead of Vincent Kipchumba and Sisay Lemma, with the struggling four-time champion Kipchoge nursing a blocked ear back in eighth place.
Kitata crossed the line just one second ahead of Kipchumba in 2:05:41, with Lemma third in 2:05:45 after the trio had entered The Mall virtually side-by-side at the end of a damp and chilly 26.2-mile challenge around 19 laps of the looped course.
Kipchoge was widely expected to win a record fifth title in The 40th Race, but fell behind in the latter stages as Kitata took control and forged on to become only the third Ethiopian winner of the coveted London crown, the first since 2013.
Kitata, who was second behind the Kenyan in 2018, recorded the slowest winning time for seven years. But having reached the top of the podium under such grey skies, that was hardly going to dampen his joy.
“I had trained for a looped course and now I’m very happy to have won the race against a very strong field for my country and for my group of teammates,” he said.
While Kipchoge’s title defence wilted in the men’s race, Kosgei’s bloomed in the women’s, as the world-record holder made light work of the conditions, dominating her contest with world champion Ruth Chepngetich to win by more than three minutes in 2:18:58.
Despite the rain, Kosgei felt it had been a “wonderful” experience as she celebrated a second London Marathon crown to go with her two Chicago victories.
“I had nothing planned, I just felt good,” she explained. “I felt my body move, but my legs could not move. So I tried my best.”
Behind the winner, US athlete Sara Hall produced a powerful finish to prevent a Kenyan one-two as she overtook Chepngetich in the closing metres and placed second in a personal best 2:22:01. It was the first time since Deena Kastor’s victory in 2006 that an American woman has finished on the London podium.
Down the strung-out fields, Jonny Mellor and Natasha Cockram won the battle for the British titles, Mellor finishing just outside his best to take the men’s in 2:10:38, as debutant Ben Connor also dipped under the Olympic qualifying time in a second-place 2:11:20.
Cockram held off the unfancied Naomi Mitchell, who produced another surprise on a day full of twists and turns fitting for such a year. Cockram was the 13th elite woman overall in 2:33:19, while Mitchell was second Briton home just four seconds behind, taking four minutes from her best.