NAIROBI, Kenya, April 18- Newly crowned London Marathon conquerors Emmanuel Mutai and Mary Keitany return home Tuesday morning where a triumphant reception awaits them in Eldoret.
Plans are underway to accord the pair who sealed an emphatic Kenyan double at the World Marathon Majors since 2004 a rousing welcome in the running capital at the heart of Rift Valley where they will connect directly from Nairobi upon their 5:30am arrival.
Mutai, the nearly man of marathon running, finally ruled the roost with a blistering course record performance of 2:04:40 that erased Olympic champion’s Samuel Wanjiru 2:05:10 (2009) from London’s history books in the men’s race.
Having won silver at the 2009 World Championships as well as last year’s London and New York Marathons, Mutai turned Sunday’s race into his procession after the 30km to seal his victory and complete the Kenyan podium sweep as three-time champion, Martin Lel (2:05:45) out sprinted third placed Patrick Makau (2:05:45) for second.
“Since I’ve come to run in London I have twice finished fourth and last year I was second,” Mutai, 26, told IAAF. “This year I have come back and my dreams have come true. I so much wanted to win a major Marathon and this time I did it.”
It was the first single nation podium sweep at London since the British trio led by Steve Jones recorded the 1-2-3 in 1985.
Keitany on the other hand, stormed to a 2:19:19 victory in only her second marathon after finishing third in New York, the fastest time at the event since home runner and World record holder (2:15:25), Paula Radcliffe, ran 2:17:42 to win the 2005 edition.
“I did a lot of long runs for this marathon. If the race organiser will welcome me again, I will come to defend my title. I knew I had won the race when I ran to the front and no one was following men.” Keitany told London Marathon TV’s Andy Edwards.
UK’s Mirror, reported Britain Mara Yamauchi, the London runner-up in 2005 who missed Sunday’s race with injury paying tribute to the world half marathon record holder,
“She’s going to be a really big threat in 2012 (Olympics). Of course I now feel more pressure. It was a fantastic run – but I think Mary can go quicker than that. It was only her second marathon and she was on her own for the second part of the race. Also the pace was not that smooth.
“The Olympics is a different ball game because it’s in the summer and there aren’t pacemakers, but if she ran fast from the start she could run away from everybody,” the 2009 London Marathon runner-up added.
In an article titled ‘Keitany lets her feet do talking in challenge for Radcliffe’ the respected Independent also paid homage to the diminutive Keitany with Athletics Correspondent Simon Turnbull writing;
“There are 466 days to go before London welcomes the world to the 2012 Olympic Games. It seems Radcliffe will need every one of them if she is to catch up with the painfully shy little Kenyan woman who made a big statement of intent on the road from Blackheath to The Mall yesterday.”
Evans Rutto and Margaret Okayo were the last Kenyan double winning act in London when they topped the 2004 running of the Blue Riband race.
And to cap another memorable weekend for Kenyan distance runners who were incensed by the decision of next week’s Utrecht Marathon organisers to offer then a tenth of the prize money availed to Dutch runners for victory, there were further triumphs in Vienna, Madrid and Pasua city ultimate distance road races.
Moses Arusei won the men’s race in Madrid with a 2:10:58 course record ahead of countryman Thomson Cherongony (2:11:03) and Francis Kiprop (2:11:50) who completed the 1-2-3.
Hellen Kimutai (2:36:30) in fifth was the best placed Kenyan female runner in the women’s race won by Ethiopia’s defending champion, Girma Tadesse in a modest 2:35:28.
In Vienna, John Kiprotich, 22, improved his personal best by more than seven minutes and clocked 2:08:29 for victory to lead yet another Kenyan podium sweep where veteran Patrick Ivuti (2:08:41) was the bridesmaid ahead of Evans Kiplagat (2:09:22) in third.
Isaac Macharia also broke 2:10 barrier with 2:09:43 to finish fourth in a race in which Kenyans took the first eight places.