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Vivian Cheruiyot bags London Marathon title

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Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot crossed the finish line to win but Paula Radcliffe’s marathon record was safe. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21- Multiple track champion Vivian Cheruiyot stunned pre-race favorite Mary Keitany to bag her second career marathon victory, winning in London in a Personal best time of 2:18:31 ahead of compatriot Brigid Kosgei.

Cheruiyot whose maiden victory over 42km of road running was in Frankfurt last year pressed the gas on the pace in the final seven kilometers of the race, going past favorite Keitany and maintaining the pace till the finish line.

Keitany seemed to struggle in the final few kilometers of the race and could only manage to hold on for fifth, crossing the finish line in a time of 02:24:27.

Ethiopia’s Tadelech Bekele cut off the possibility of a Kenyan 1-2-3 coming in third in a time of 2:21:30 while Gladys Cherono finished fourth in 2:24:10.

From the onset, it looked set to be a two horse race between Keitany, three-time winner of the race and Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba. The target was to have a shot at Paula Radcliffe’s 15-year 2:15:25 World record and with three male pacesetters, the race started on blustering pace.

The two covered the first 8km in 25:33, faster that the time Radcliffe used to cover the same distance in 20013. There was a healthy 29-second gap between the two leaders and the chasing pack which had Cheruiyot leading.

Winner Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot, (centre), second-placed Kenyan Brigid Kosgei (left) and third-placed Ethiopian Tadelech Bekele pose after the elite women’s race of the 2018 London Marathon in central London on April 22, 2018. PHOTO | DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS |AFP

Keitany laid her marker at the 15km mark when she started pulling the pace having covered that distance in a blistering time of 47:46 and going on to get to the 20km mark in a time of 1:03:50, well within World Record pace.

She went on to pass the halfway mark in 67:16, a scorching pace considering the pace setters were handed a target of covering the first half of the race in 67:30. This time, Keitany had opened up a 23 second gap with Dibaba and 1:40 ahead of the chasing pack.

The the 30km mark, the scorching pace seemed to have gotten the better of Dibaba as she stopped, momentarily held her breath before trying to move again. However, her race seemed to be heading south probably suffering the effect of the electric pace.

All this time as she tried to pull her strength together, the ‘pocket rocket’ Cheruiyot’s little steps stomped past the Ethiopian.

Kenya’s Mary Keitany runs during the 2018 London Marathon in central London on April 22, 2018. PHOTO | NIKLAS HALLEN | AFP

Upfront, the 36-year old Keitany seemed to have started struggling, the effect of chasing the massive record taking the toll on her. At the 35km mark, Cheruiyot was 12 seconds behind her compatriot and from then, it seemed like the favorites table had turned.

The multi-track champion, winner of the 10,000m gold medal at the Rio Olympics two years ago slowly pumped up the pace and cleared past Keitany who had no response.

She was on 2:11:08 at the 40km mark and all this time, Keitany was all but fading away with Kosgei also steaming past.

But there was no stopping Cheruiyot who maintained her pace and as she approached the Buckingham Palace with finish line in sight, her smile told half the story, the title was all but hers.

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