Eliud Kipchoge is back to his winning ways after storming to a dominant victory at Sunday’s NN Mission Marathon in the Netherlands. Running on a looped course at Twente Airport in the Dutch city of Enschede on Sunday, Kipchoge broke away from fellow Kenyan and eventual second-place finisher Jonathan Korir with about 12K to go, never looking back on his way to a 2:04:30 win. With the win, Kipchoge has proven that he will still be the man to beat at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, where he’ll look to defend his gold medal in the marathon.
Mission Complete ✅✅✅
— NN Running Team (@NNRunningTeam) April 18, 2021
Running with Korir and a pacer for most of the race, Kipchoge made his decisive move at 30K, pulling away from the two men and powering toward the win. Although he only had 12K to work with after creating that gap, Kipchoge ended up winning by more than two minutes, as Korir crossed the line in 2:06:40 (a five-second PB) for second place.
Kipchoge’s 2:04:30 result may be almost three full minutes slower than his world record of 2:01:39, but time was likely not his focus on Sunday, and his sights were probably set firmly on taking the win, something that he failed to do in his last race, the 2020 London Marathon.
In London, Kipchoge ran with the lead group for most of the race, only to fall well behind eventual winner Shura Kitata, who crossed the line in 2:05:41. Kipchoge finished more than a minute later, stopping the clock in 2:06:49 for a disappointing eighth place. Many people would look at a 2:06:49 result (a time two and a half minutes quicker than the Canadian marathon record) and say that’s still an amazing run, but Kipchoge’s past records have to be taken into account. He owns the official world record of 2:01:39 and an unofficial PB of 1:59:40, and other than in his win at the Rio Olympics, where he ran 2:08:44, his time in London was the worst of his marathon career.
The GOAT is back.
Six months after his defeat in London, Eliud Kipchoge wins the NN Mission Marathon in 2:04:30. pic.twitter.com/zNWP2kxEIS
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) April 18, 2021
By all accounts, the London Marathon was a terrible disappointment for Kipchoge, and for the first time since jumping up to the marathon in 2013, he looked beatable over 42.2K. This is why the NN Mission Marathon was a must-win event for Kipchoge, as it gave him the chance to prove he is still one of the greatest (if not the outright greatest) marathoners in the world right now. His run in London is still proof that he’s beatable, but Sunday’s result shows his competitors that he hasn’t let that shake his confidence.
After Kipchoge and Korir crossed the line in Enschede, Eritrea’s Goitom Kifle rounded out the podium, finishing well back of the two leaders in 2:08:07. Germany’s Katharina Steinrueck took the women’s race in 2:25:59, winning comfortably ahead of Sara Moreira of Portugal, who finished in 2:26:42, and her fellow German Rabea Schoeneborn, who crossed the line in 2:27:03.
A successful race
Event organizers dubbed the NN Mission Marathon to be the “the fastest way to Tokyo,” and Sunday’s results backed up that claim. While the race offered Kipchoge a chance to bounce back after his loss in London, it was also an opportunity for many athletes to run Olympic standard and qualify for the Tokyo Games. Fifteen men ended up beating the Olympic standard of 2:11:30, and 10 women broke their 2:29:30 standard, making the NN Mission Marathon even more of a success and potentially helping several athletes to their Olympic dreams.