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Sisay Lemma and Joyciline Jepkosgei win 2021 London Marathon

Titus Ekiru, the world's fastest marathoner in 2021, dropped out with an injury

We have two new champions in London, as the men’s and women’s Virgin Money London Marathon races went down to the wire. Joyciline Jepkosgei came across the line in 2:17:44, followed by Degitu Azimeraw of Ethiopia, who just dipped under the 2:18 mark in only her third marathon. Ashete Bekere was third in 2:18:18 – personal bests for all three women. In the men’s race, Sisay Lemma waited until 40 km to make his move on the rest of the men, taking his first major marathon victory in 2:04:01. Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba defended his second-place finish from last year, crossing the line in 2:04:28. Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia rounded out the all East-African podium for third (2:04:41).

RELATED: Brigid Kosgei to chase her third straight title at the London Marathon

Lemma surged at some point after 35 km, where he was in fifth position, struggling to hang on to the leaders. Lemma finished third here last year, behind defending champion Shura Kitata, who battled early with a lingering injury before falling off the pace at around 15 km today, and Chumba. Kitata had taped up his left leg before the race, but it wasn’t in the cards for him to repeat his title. He managed to finish the race in sixth place, in 2:07:51.

Titus Ekiru, who has the fastest time in the world this year (2:02:57, from the Milan Marathon in June), was with the lead pack until 33 km but dropped out of the race with an injury.

Canada’s Tristan Woodfine came through halfway in 12th position, just over 65 minutes right on 2:10 pace. Woodfine fell off the group with British athletes Josh Griffiths and Jonathan Mellor at the 25 km mark. He finished 19th, in 2:23:35.

In the women’s race, a group of eight women shared the lead halfway, coming through in 68 minutes. Around 25 km, a breakaway group of five women including world record holder Brigid Kosgei and Lonah Salpeter of Israel separated themselves from the field. Jepkosgei put an attack on the field of five runners, using her 10K world record strength to separate herself by 15 seconds from the rest of the field at 35 km. Kosgei and Salpeter fell off the podium positions, struggling to hold the pace late in the race. This is the first time Kosgei has finished off the podium in a marathon (she was fourth, in 2:18:40). Kosgei and Salpeter were also the only two in the top 10 who also ran the Olympic marathon just eight weeks ago, Kosgei taking the silver medal.

British favourite Charlotte Purdue, who was not selected for the Olympic team earlier this year, finished 10th, with a massive personal best of 2:23.26. Purdue’s result moves her up to third on the British all-time list. 

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Canadian Paralympian and defending champion Brent Lakatoswho won four silver medals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, finished third in the men’s wheelchair race, which was won by Marcel Hug of Switzerland in his third London Marathon wheelchair title. Lakatos, who is 41 and who also finished third at the Berlin Marathon a week ago, has hinted that London may be his final race.

Shalane Flanagan, who has said she will race all six world majors this fall (starting in Berlin last week, where she was 17th, in 2:38:32) finished in London in 2:35:04 – three minutes faster than her time in Berlin. Flanagan was the first finisher in the mass women’s event, and 190th overall. (If she had been registered as an elite, her time would have put her in 40th place.)

Men’s Top 10

  1. Sisay Lemma (ETH) 2:04:01
  2. Vincent Kipchumba (KEN) 2:04:28
  3. Mosinet Geremew (ETH) 2:04:41
  4. Evans Chebet (KEN) 2:05:43  
  5. Birhanu Legese (ETH) 2:06:10
  6. Shura Kitata (ETH) 2:07:51
  7. Philip Sesemann (UK) 2:12:58 (debut)
  8. Joshua Griffiths (UK) 2:13:39
  9. Matthew Leach (UK) 2:15:31
  10. Andrew Davies (UK) 2:15:36

Women’s Top 10

  1. Jocyiline Jepkosgei (KEN) 2:17:43
  2. Degitu Azimeraw (ETH) 2:17:58
  3. Ashete Bekere (ETH) 2:18:18
  4. Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:18:40
  5. Lonah Salpeter (ISR) 2:18:54
  6. Valary Jemeli (KEN) 2:20:35
  7. Joan Melly (KEN) 2:21:23
  8. Zeineha Yimer (ETH) 2:21:40
  9. Tigist Girma (ETH) 2:22:45
  10. Charlotte Purdue (UK) 2:23:26