On a wet morning in London, Eliud Kipchoge‘s marathon winning streak came to an end as he finished in eighth place in the elite men’s race. Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata, who finished second to Kipchoge in London in 2018, won the race in a thrilling sprint finish, crossing the line just ahead of Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba with a winning time of 2:05:41. Kipchumba finished a second back, and Kitata’s compatriot Sisay Lemma came in third in 2:05:45.
OH MY WORD WHAT A FINISH! 🤯
— Virgin Money London Marathon (@LondonMarathon) October 4, 2020
Early on in the race, the commentators discussed Kipchoge’s stellar record in the marathon. Before Sunday, his worst finish in a marathon was second place, and that was in just his second shot at the distance. “He has never in his life run a bad marathon,” one of the announcers said, later remarking that things looked “metronomic” for him early on in the race. While Kipchoge remained in the lead pack for much of the run, he was dropped with just a few kilometres to go. The leaders ran away from the sub-two-hour marathoner, and with 2K left, it was a four-man race.
Down to three runners with just a few hundred metres to go, it was anyone’s race to win, and Kitata, Kipchumba and Lemma powered toward the line. Lemma fell off the pace within the final 100 metres, and for a few seconds, it looked like Kipchumba (who towered over the shorter Kitata) would pull away for the win. But with one last burst of speed, Kitata caught and passed the Kenyan, and he was able to hold on for the win. The winning time was far off any of the men’s marathon PBs, but as the commentators noted, the finishing time wasn’t important on such a miserable, rainy day. All that mattered was Kitata’s victory.
After 25 kilometers my ear blocked and it couldn't open anymore. But this is how sport is, we should accept defeat and focus for the winning next time.
Thanks for the support. pic.twitter.com/No1Kcyizco
— Eliud Kipchoge – EGH🇰🇪 (@EliudKipchoge) October 4, 2020
One of the announcers said the race was Kipchoge’s first moment of weakness as a marathon runner. “All great champions have their off days, and today it was Eliud Kipchoge’s turn.” Outside of the Olympic Games in Rio, where he won gold in 2:08:44, Kipchoge’s 2:06:49 finish on Sunday was the worst marathon time of his career.
At around 30K, it was noted that Kipchoge was the only runner in the lead pack who was facing any real pressure. Everyone expected him to win, so there was no reason for the other men to worry if he pulled away. This gave them the freedom that only underdogs can possess, and Kitata and the other leaders used it to their advantage, running smoothly throughout the entire race and eventually dropping the marathon legend. Following multiple top-five finishes at World Marathon Majors, this is without a doubt the biggest result of Kitata’s career so far.