NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 22- Eliud Kipchoge produced a mastered, tactful race to clinch his third London marathon crown, shaking off Ethiopia’s Tola Shura to cut the tape in a time of 2:04:16.
Shura stuck on Kipchoge’s shoulder like a tick for almost 10km when the Kenyan road running kingpin decided to shake himself away from the pack, but Kipchoge changed gears in the final 2km leaving the Ethiopian gasping for breath.
The Ethiopian managed to hold on for second spot in a time of 2:05:00 while home boy Mo Farah finished third in a time of 2:06:32. Abel Kirui and Bedan Karoki finished fourth and fifth respectively.
It was a steady start to the race, but Kipchoge, true to self decided to lay the marker early by keeping his guard at the front, just in the shadow of the pacemakers. He managed to lead the pack past 10km at 28:19 which was well within Dennis Kimetto’s 2:02:57 World Record.
He still kept on at the front with Shura and Kenenisa Bekele stuck behind him while the second pack almost 10m behind consisted of defending champion Daniel Wanjiru, Abel Kirui and Bedan Karoki who were working themselves off to maintain the pace.
The leading pack with Kipchoge in front managed to pass the halfway mark in 61 minutes, a good distance into World Record pace and it seemed a matter of when and not if the record set in Berlin would come tumbling down.
Bekele, one of the pre-race favorites started dropping off the leading pack at the 25km mark and from there, the race turned out to be a two horse race between Bekele and Shura, winner of last year’s Frankfurt Marathon.
Shura stuck on bekele’s shoulder for the entirety of the race and there were moments of nerves when twice, Kipchoge held his stomach probably signifying some sort of discomfort.
But being a man who endured the toughest test of his physical strength when he ran 2:00:25 in the Nike Breaking Two Project last year, Kipchoge was not a man who could easily be broken down.
The two passed the 40km mark in 1:57:35 and from there, it was certain that a stab at Kimetto’s record would be a far-fetched idea. The only concern now was dropping the Ethiopian.
Kipchoge stamped his feet as he looked up and began to inject some paining pace which Shura found hard to respond two.
Two metres, three metres, 10 metres.. the gap grew and so did Kipchoge’s confidence as he whisked his famous smile, knowing victory was nigh.
He pushed the pace to the finish line and though he couldn’t get his stab at the record, he had proved once again that he was one of the best, if not the best road runners in the history of the sport.
Bekele who seems to have yet grasped the tact of running the 42km on the road finished sixth in a time of 2:08:53 while defending champion Wanjiru found it tough to math a star-studded field, coming in eighth in 2:10:35.