After Brigid Kosgei and Shura Kitata ran to wins in the first two races of Sunday morning’s London Marathon, 17 athletes took to the 2.1K course in the city’s St. James’s Park for the wheelchair race. In the final lap of the race, Canada’s Brent Lakatos took the lead and never relinquished it, and he demonstrated his power in the final few hundred metres as he sprinted away from the rest of the field. On the women’s side, Nikita den Boer of the Netherlands produced the second upset of the day (after Eliud Kipchoge finished in eighth in the elite men’s race), not only beating Switzerland’s Manuela Schär, but dominating her. The wins are the first in London for both Lakatos and den Boer.
— Athletics Canada (@AthleticsCanada) October 4, 2020
The top men stayed together for the entire race, and only seven seconds separated Lakatos in first from the sixth-place finisher. Lakatos is relatively new to the marathon, and he has spent the majority of his career racing as a sprinter (he has multiple Olympic and world championship sprinting medals to his name). This served him well down the final stretch in London on Sunday, and when it became clear the group of six would be sticking together until the line, it became Lakatos’s sprint to lose. For a moment, it looked like eight-time London Marathon champion David Weir might close the gap and catch Lakatos, but the Canadian was too powerful and he pulled away for the win in 1:36:04.
What makes Lakatos’s win even more impressive is the fact that he races in the T53 category rather than T54 like the majority of the field. T53 athletes have slightly less upper-body function than T54 racers, but that didn’t seem to hinder Lakatos too much. This is the first win for a Canadian at the London Marathon since Josh Cassidy won back in 2010. Cassidy was supposed to race on Sunday, but his gloves were ruined in training and he was unable to get a new pair in time to race.
Den Boer’s upset
No one was betting on anyone other than Schär before the race. The Swiss had won nine-straight World Marathon Majors, and she could have had 10 in a row, but she didn’t race earlier in the year in Tokyo. Even if the media was placing bets on anyone else, it likely wouldn’t have been on den Boer, whose previous marathon PB was more than 12 minutes slower than her 1:40:07 finish from Sunday.
The two women were side by side for most of the race, and they were well ahead of third place. At 35K, they were still neck and neck, but somewhere around 37K or so, den Boer dropped the hammer, pulled away and never looked back. After posting identical splits throughout the race, den Boer put more than a minute into Schär, who ended up in second place. This was without a doubt the race of den Boer’s life. For Schär (like Kipchoge), the 2020 London Marathon is likely one she’ll want to forget.