World record holder Eliud Kipchoge was beaten at the London Marathon when Shura Kitata won a thrilling sprint finish to take an unexpected victory.
The four-time winner Kipchoge was the favorite, but fell behind with two laps to go and finished eighth.
The Ethiopian Kitata prevailed on the home straight ahead of the Kenyan Vincent Kipchumba and finished in two hours, five minutes and 41 seconds.
Brigid Kosgei, who holds the world record for women, defended her title.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, both races were held in wet conditions on a specially developed closed-loop circuit. The women’s race started at 07:15 a.m. CET, followed three hours later by the men.
Kipchoge, who last lost a marathon in 2013, said: “I’m really disappointed. I don’t know what happened.
“For the last 15 km I felt like my right ear was blocked. I had cramps in my hips and legs.
“It just happened in the race. I started well. It’s really cold, but I don’t blame the conditions.”
For defending champion Kipchoge it should be an instant win. Kenenisa Bekele withdrew injured on Friday.
The athletics press package reacts to Kipchoge’s defeat
However, the 35-year-old Kenyan, who set a world record of 2: 01.39 in 2018, never took the opportunity to slowly retreat from an eight-man front runner.
Kitata accelerated the pace within 15 minutes and Kipchoge looked increasingly uncomfortable as he fell back.
Others were also canceled and finally Kitata turned the last corner into the home straight with compatriot Sisay Lemma and Kipchumba.
The 24-year-old managed to advance and land a second before Kipchumba, Lemma three seconds back.
“I prepared very well for this race,” said Kitata. “Kenenisa Bekele helped me. I am very happy to win the race.”
Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track who worked as a pacemaker, was surprised by the result.
“It was a shock to all of us. We expected him to win miles considering how many times he ran,” Farah told the BBC.
“But it was a good field. It’s part of racing, it’s part of sport, it happens.”
Kosgei claims dominant victory
The 26-year-old Kosgei prevailed after the 18th mile ahead of world champion Ruth Chepngetich and finished with 2: 18.58, three minutes and three seconds ahead of American Sara Hall.
She was nearly five minutes off her world record in Chicago last year.
“The weather wasn’t good so we had problems,” Kosgei, who earned $ 30,000 (£ 23,200) in prize money, told BBC Sport. “I struggled until the moment I was done.
“We have not prepared well because of the pandemic. I will be prepared for good results next year.”
|Winner’s PB||2: 04.49||2:14:04|
|Time of the winner||2:05:41||2: 18.58|
The London Marathon, which has been postponed from its traditional April date due to the coronavirus pandemic, will only run over 19 laps around St. James’s Park for elite runners.
The wheelchair races will take place later on Sunday. The usual mass participation event is practically due to Covid-19 restrictions while no spectators cheer on the elite runners.
Farah sets the pace for the British
Marathon debutant Ben Connor, who had an excellent lead from Farah, slowed down the home straight but managed to cross the finish line within 10 seconds.
Jonny Mellor, who had previously reached the marker, took the British title when it finished in 2: 10.38.
In the women’s race, Steph Twell, who reached the world finals and won a European medal on the track, missed the Olympic qualifying time of 2:29:30.
The 31-year-old hobbled around the 16th mile when she failed to repeat her fast time from Frankfurt last year. Lily Partridge, the 2018 British champion, couldn’t finish either, She suffers from convulsions and later says on social media that she has never run this cold before.
In their absence, Natasha Cockram and Naomi Mitchell battled it out for the national title, with Cockram finishing four seconds ahead of their rival in 2:33:19.
Now all over the world
As the elite compete in London, 45,000 people cover the 26.2 miles across the country and around the world.
Runners have 24 hours to complete the route on a course of their choice, track their progress in the event app, and raise thousands for pounds for charity.
Kipchoge told the elite participants that “we will run together in spirit”.
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