Kenya: Shock as Ethiopian Kitata Dethrones Eliud Kipchoge in London

Eliud Kipchoge (in white singlet) runs flanked by pacesetters during the INEOS 1:59 Challenge at Prater Park in Vienna, Austria on October 12, 2019.
4 October 2020

A different script was written at the London Marathon, away from anyone's prediction or expectation.

It was Ethiopia's Shura Kitata, who pulled that stunning script when he shocked favourite and defending champion Eliud Kipchoge.

Kitata, 24, whose victory handed him his maiden London Marathon title, denied the Olympic champion his fifth.

Kitata, who moved to the front after hitting the 35km in a pack, edged out Kenya's Amsterdam champion Vincent Kipchumba in a sprint finish to win in two hours, 05 minutes and 41 seconds.

It was a great victory for Kitata who finally claimed revenge against Kipchoge, who beat him to second place during the 2018 London Marathon. Kipchumba finished a second adrift.

Kipchoge finished a distant eighth in 2:06:49, his first defeat since finishing second to Wilson Kipsang during the 2013 Berlin Marathon. Kipsang won the race in a world record time of 2:03:23 as Kipchoge returned 2:04:05.

After running in a pack of 10 athletes for the better part of the race, which was quite unusual for Kipchoge, who turned on screws before the 30km mark, an interesting scenario started to unfold after the 35km mark.

Kitata moved to the front as Kipchoge started to drift back, leaving four Ethiopians and one Kenyan Vincent Kipchumba to engage in a fierce battle.

Kitata, fellow countrymen Sisay Lemma, Mosinet Geremew and Mule Hasihun and Kipchumba went through 38km mark in 1:55:20 and 40km in 1:59:19 as Kipchoge's reign at London seemed over with his dream of a fifth title in ruins.

Kipchoge had won the London Marathon four times in 2015 (2:04:42), 2016(2:03:05), 2018(2:04:17), 2019 (2:02:37).

The leading pack went through the 10km mark in 29:45 with Kipchoge, in a white vest and black cap, tucked just behind the three pace makers looking comfortable and in a steady pace.

Kipchoge would have a word in the ear of the pace setters to up things a little as they went through 15km in 44:31. At this point, it was clear that it won't be a fast race with the appalling conditions at St James Park. Geremew and Wasihun among others kept Kipchoge company.

The pack hit the half way mark in 1:02:54 as two of the three pacemakers dropped out at 25km with pace being injected into the race.

Even though Kipchoge dropped his cap and gloves at the 30km mark in what perhaps signaled the start of real business, it's Lemma who hit the front briefly with Kipchumba in pursuit.

A pack of nine athletes hit the 35km mark in 1:44:14 with Kipchoge dangerously finding himself in the mix and in an unfamiliar position. Kipchoge is known to take on the field early before the 30km mark.

That's when Kitata, Geremew, Lemma and Wasihun moved to the front with Kipchumba in the mix. The battle was left for Kitata and Kipchumba in the last kilometre with the lanky Kenyan taking the lead. However it's Kitata's sprightly legs that would carry the day.

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