Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany dominate the Virgin London Marathon 2012 as Kenya rules once again, while Great Britain's Claire Hallisey looks to have secured her Olympic Games spot. Two very different races with completely different pacing and tactics. Clearly, more than one way to run a marathon...
Fast marathons have become the norm over the last 18 months. When 10 athletes passed through the halfway mark below 1:02:22, the streets of London were going to witness another one of those. At least, that's how it looked. Five Kenyans and four Ethiopians making up that group (alongside Samuel Tsegay of Eritrea), was also one of the most predictable statistics of the day!
Wilson Kipsang came within four seconds of a marathon world record at the Frankfurt Marathon last October, and has won his last three marathons. You can now make that four. Indeed, that early pace proved far too much for everyone else and come the finish line Kipsang (2:04:44) had more than a two minute margin on three-time winner Martin Lel (KEN) who was able to out-sprint Olympic bronze medal winner and 2010 winner Tsegaye Kebede (ETH) to secure a Kenyan one-two.
From a British perspective, Lee Merrien (17th, 2:13:41) was the first across the line but with the target set at 2:12, looks set to miss out on joining Scott Overall in the British Olympic team.
The leading London ladies clocked 33:36 at 10km, a group of 10 athletes headed by the two pacemakers and featuring defending champion and race favourite Mary Keitany. That represented 2:21:47 pace for the full distance, perhaps a little slower than expected at this early stage of the race.
Louise Damen (34:44), Freya Murray (+0.01) and Claire Hallisey (+0.07) were at 2:27-ish pace at 10km, well ahead of all of their personal best times.and seeking that final London 2012 Olympic spot. Perhaps, a little quick however? Liz Yelling (35:16 / 2:29 pace) was a little further back on that trio. Suffering, or experience? Only time would tell in that battle of Britain.
1:10:53 was the halfway split as the leaders were maintaining a consistent pace, but today certainly wasn't going to be a record breaker in the ladies race. As with the Brits, Olympic qualifying for the Kenyan team would be on the minds of the athletes more than finishing times.
Crossing Tower Bridge, Damen, Murray and Hallisey were together as the halfway mark approached and they reached that landmark in 1:13:39. So, 2:27:18 pace... personal bests or bust all round looked to be on the cards! Susan Partridge (1:15:10) and Liz Yelling (1:16:17) appeared to be out of the running for that final Olympic spot with 13 miles left to run.
The first to fade slightly was Damen. Hallisey clearly wanted to push on at 17 miles with Damen - to that point the instigator - looking under pressure. Murray though, in her first ever marathon, was still strong and trying hard not to let Hallisey escape. Hallisey is coached by former marathon world record holder Steve Jones, and came into this event with high expectations.
Up front, after a relatively conservative first half, defending champion Mary Keitany turned up the heat and with a 5:06 mile pulled away from Edna Kiplagat, the pace increase such that after 2:21:46 pace at halfway, the leading ladies look set to threaten the 2:20 barrier on arrival in The Mall. 4:59 for mile 24, 5:02 for mile 25. That is some running! 1:10:53 first half, 1:07:43 for the second half (!) and a new personal best and Kenyan record. Kenyan's dominated, filling the top five places with 2011 World Champion Edna Kiplagat in second.
Claire Hallisey finished with a smile getting bigger with every step closer to the finish line one The Mall. 11th overall, 2:27:44, a massive personal best and - one would assume - a ticket to the Olympic Games. Freya Murray showed great potential for the future too, her 2:28:10 (13th) also inside the 2011 time of Jo Pavey. That would appear to end of Pavey's London 2012 marathon hopes. Surely Hallisey must be selected?
||Wilson Kipsang (KEN) 2:04:44
||Mary Keitany (KEN) 2:18:36
||Martin Lel (KEN) 2:06:51
||Edna Kiplagat (KEN) 2:19:50
||Tsegaye Kebede (ETH) 2:06:52
||Priscah Jeptoo (KEN) 2:20:14
||Adil Annani (MAR) 2:07:43
||Florence Kiplagat (KEN) 2:20:57
||Jaouad Gharib (MAR) 2:07:44
||Lucy Kabuu (KEN) 2:23:12
||Abel Kirui (KEN) 2:07:56
||Aberu Kebede (ETH) 2:24:04
||Emmanuel Mutai (KEN) 2:08:01
||Irina Mikitenko (GER) 2:24:53
||Marilson Gomes Dos Santos (BRA) 2:08:03
||Jennifer Augusto (POR) 2:24:59
||Samual Tsegay (ERI) 2:08:06
||Atsede Baysa (ETH) 2:25:59
||Feyisa Lilesa (ETH) 2:08:20
||Jelena Prokopcuka (LAT) 2:27:04
||Abderrahime Bouramdane (MAR) 2:10:13
||Claire Hallisey (GBR) 2:27:44
||Bazu Worku (ETH) 2:10:14
||Koren Jelela (ETH) 2:28:05
||Vincet Kipruto (KEN) 2:10:39
||Freya Murray (GBR) 2:28:10
||Zersenay Tadese (ERI) 2:10:41
||Isabellah Andersson (SWE) 2:29:57
||Abreham Cherkos (ETH) 2:12:46
||Maria Konovalova (RUS) 2:30:29