NAIROBI, Kenya, April 21- Olympics and Worlds silver medallist, Priscah Jeptoo caught the bouquet as Ethiopia’s Tsegay Kebede reclaimed the title he last won in 2010 as the dramatic 2013 London Marathon unfurled on Sunday.
Jeptoo, who was third here last year, took charge of the women’s race as they approached the 35Km mark after grinding the last of world champion and compatriot Edna Kiplagat, to win in 2:20:15, a second outside her lifetime best.
Kiplagat, who forced proceedings in a three-way Kenyan charge at 30km, came home in 2:21:32 to reverse the finishing order at the 2011 Daegu Worlds with Japan’s Yukiko Akaba (2:24:43) getting rewarded for her strong running by closing the podium.
In the corresponding men’s race in the event held under tight security following the Monday Boston Marathon bombings, Kebede prevailed over the toughest field ever assembled in 2:06:04 after attacking brilliantly from behind to supplant the spent 2011 winner, Emmanuel Mutai (2:06:33), who looked set to win as they came in for the last kilometre.
Among the rank favourites, Jeptoo who was beaten to Olympic gold by Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana on her last outing in London last summer, found the form that carried her to her first title of the World Marathon Majors event in fine style.
With the Olympics winner enduring a torrid afternoon after her stuffing was knocked out by a collision with world men’s wheelchair record holder, Josh Cassidy, Kenyan trio, Jeptoo, Kiplagat and namesake Florence Kiplagat detached from the field as they approached the 30km mark.
A podium sweep appeared to be on the cards as they ran together until the world champion burst into the lead with her Daegu bridesmaid responding and pulling alongside.
Jeptoo who possesses a rugged but effective running style then struck the clinching blow on her rivals by pulling away from Kiplagat and from then on, she had an unobstructed view as she competed with the clock to beat her 2:20:14 personal best.
There is no-one else in sight as she came into sight of Buckingham Palace with just over half a mile to go and she finally arrived at the tape a second short as she bowed to the ground in deep prayer before rising to welcome Kiplagat home and four minutes later, they were joined by Akaba to round the top-three.
Kebede in dramatic win
The men’s race featured arguably the most imposing field ever assembled for a single race, with among others Olympics champion, Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, world record holder, Patrick Makau, Geoffrey Mutai, the fastest ever on a marathon course with 2:03:02 as well as the last three champions of the race in Kebede, E Mutai and Wilson Kiprop.
British double Olympics champion, Mo Farah, was also a headline act as he targeted to run the half marathon distance drawing in the crowds in the event where Prince Harry was giving the medals to various winners.
An impeccable 30 second silence from the men’s elite field and the masses behind in the spring sun as they send their thoughts across the Atlantic to those affected by the Boston bombings kicked-off the race.
From the start, a furious pace that was projected to finish at a staggering 2:02:00 by the designated pace makers scorched most of the runners including record holder Makau who ceded ground early.
With Farah gamely hanging on to the lead until short of the 21km mark when he left the race, a bunch of three Kenyans and a similar number of Ethiopians kept tabs on the leaders with the projected pace of 2:03:18 well inside Makau’s 2:03:38 benchmark.
Kipsang and G. Mutai as well as the Olympics champion were among those fell off the pace at the halfway mark as former Paris champion, Stephen Biwott and E. Mutai took charge with Ethiopians Feyisa Lilesa and Kebede in close attendance.
At 35K crossed in 1:42:47 by Biwott in the lead, it seemed the title would be a three way tie with E.Mutai and Abshero joining the frontrunner well ahead of the chasing pack.
Biwott had surged ahead to create the possibility of a huge upset but the 2011, who was third last year closed in and moved ahead and at 40K, he was odds on favourite to reclaim his crown before he bombed out in spectacular fashion.
Kebede, who had moved to second at that point, was motoring confidently and soon had the Kenyan in sight. He reeled him in as they approached the last kilometre and pulled away for the tape, crowning off a tactical running master class.
Behind the winner and a disbelieving E.Mutai, Abshero arrived for third in 2:06:57 as Lilesa (2:07:46) and outgoing champion, Kipsang (2:07:47) sealed the top five. The Olympics champion was sixth (2:08:05) as Makau came home in 2:14:10 for 11th.
1. Tsegaye Kebede 2:06:04
2. Emmanuel Mutai 2:06:33
3. Ayele Abshero 2:06:57
4. Feyisa Lilesa 2:07:46
5. Wilson Kipsang 2:07:47
6. Stephen Kiprotich 2:08:05
7. Yared Asmerom 2:08:22
8. Stanley Biwott 2:08:39
9. Hafid Chani 2:09:11
10. Ayad Lamdassem 2:09:28
1. Priscah Jeptoo 2:20:15
2. Edna Kiplagat 2:21:32
3. Yukiko Akaba 2:24:43
4. Atsede Baysa 2:25:14
5. Meselech Melkamu 2:25:46
6. Florence Kiplagat 2:27:05
7. Mai Ito 2:28:37
8. Alevtina Biktimirova 2:30:02
9. Susan Partridge 2:30:46
10. Irvette Van Zyl 2:31:26