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London Marathon: Double delight for Kenya as Jepchirchir and Munyao win

LONDON: Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir made history at the London Marathon on Sunday, setting a women’s-only world record and leading a Kenyan double alongside Alexander Mutiso Munyao’s victory in the men’s race. The event was marked by a poignant tribute to Kelvin Kiptum, the 2023 men’s winner who tragically passed away in a car accident earlier this year.

Jepchirchir’s performance was nothing short of spectacular, as she conquered the challenging London course to secure victory. Facing stiff competition from a field considered one of the best-ever assembled, including world record holder Tigst Assefa and Joyciline Jepkosgei, Jepchirchir proved her mettle by breaking the women’s-only course record without the aid of male pacemakers. Her time of 2 hours 16 minutes 16 seconds shattered the previous record held by compatriot Mary Keitany, highlighting her remarkable skill and determination.

Reflecting on her historic achievement, Jepchirchir expressed her gratitude and disbelief at her performance. She stated, “I was not expecting to run a world record. I knew it might be beat but I did not expect it to be me.” Despite the unexpected nature of her success, she remained focused on her ultimate goal of defending her Olympic title in Paris. “I am so happy to qualify for the Olympics and I feel grateful,” she said. “My prayer is to be there and run well to defend my title.”

Meanwhile, Munyao emerged victorious in the men’s race, overcoming the legendary Kenenisa Bekele to claim the top spot. Despite the formidable challenge posed by Bekele, a three-time Olympic gold medallist, Munyao maintained his composure and surged ahead in the closing stages of the race. His winning time of 2:04:01 showcased his strength and determination, as he dedicated his victory to the memory of Kiptum. “I think about him and let him rest in peace,” Munyao said. “He came here in London and he won.”

The London Marathon also witnessed standout performances from British runners Emile Cairess and Mahamed Mahamed, who finished third and fourth respectively in the men’s race. Their strong showing bolstered their chances of securing a place at the Paris Olympics, adding to the excitement and significance of the event.

Amidst the competitive spirit and athletic achievements, the London Marathon paid tribute to Kiptum, whose untimely passing sent shockwaves through the running community. The 30 seconds of applause before the race served as a poignant reminder of his contributions to the sport and his enduring legacy.

With over 50,000 participants taking part in the iconic 26.2-mile route through the British capital, the London Marathon showcased the resilience and determination of runners from around the world. Among the participants was Jim Ratcliffe, the new co-owner of Manchester United, who faced a race against the clock to finish in time to see his team compete in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley later that day.

Overall, the London Marathon was a testament to the indomitable spirit of runners and the power of sport to unite and inspire people across the globe.

(Source: AFP)

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