Ethiopian ends Kenya’s four-year winning streak in the British capital, while Tatyana McFadden claims wheelchair world title and Paula Radcliffe makes emotional marathon swansong
Tigist Tufa claimed the biggest win of her career on Sunday as she clocked 2:23:22 to secure victory at a cool and damp Virgin Money London Marathon.
The 2014 Ottawa and Shanghai Marathon winner saw off a formidable field including the likes of a Kenyan ‘fantastic four’ of Mary Keitany, Priscah Jeptoo, Florence Kiplagat and Edna Kiplagat to become only the second Ethiopian winner of the women’s race and end a four-year winning streak by Kenyan athletes.
Tufa enjoyed a clear win, too, crossing the finishing line on The Mall 18 seconds ahead of two-time winner Keitany who broke up an Ethiopian clean-sweep, with Tirfi Tsegaye and Aselefech Mergia next over the line, clocking 2:23:41 and 2:23:53 respectively. It had been 14 years since Derartu Tulu claimed the London title.
Tufa admitted she found the weather conditions tough, but said: “I’ve always dreamed about winning the London Marathon and I can’t say how happy I am that this has come true.”
There had been talk ahead of the race of Paula Radcliffe’s women-only world record of 2:17:42 being a target, but after a cautious start it looked unlikely.
Radcliffe herself, running her final competitive 26.2 miles to draw the curtain on her magnificent marathon career, clocked 2:36:55. You can read more about her marathon swansong here.
Keitany had led the lead pack through 5km in 16:54 as she was joined by Tufa, Tsegaye and Mergia as well as both Kiplagats, Jeptoo and their fellow Kenyan Jemima Sumgong.
Clearly wanting to push the pace, three-time Dubai Marathon winner Mergia solo ran for a spell before the pack caught up with her. Mergia, Tufa and Tsegaye then formed the front of the lead pack and the half way point was passed in 71:42. The pack grew from nine to 13 and Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix took over at the front. The 30km mark was passed in 1:42:36 and shortly afterwards the 2012 European 10,000m champion dropped back to mid-pack, with Keitany and Florence Kiplagat to the fore.
Through 35km, Tufa and Tsegaye were level, clocking 1:59:58, and they maintained their leading positions until Tufa began to make a move. By 40km she was 11 seconds ahead of Keitany and Tsegaye and on reaching the finish line she had improved that margin to 18 seconds.
Behind Mergia was a Kenyan trio of Florence Kiplagat, Sumgong and Jeptoo. There were also top-10 spots for Felix, who clocked 2:25:15 for eighth, Volha Mazuronak of Belarus in ninth and Morocco’s Rkia El Moukim in tenth, one place ahead of Edna Kiplagat.
Sonia Samuels was the top-placed British athlete. Just under a minute outside of her PB with 2:31:46, the World Championships 16th-placer now targets an autumn marathon. Two places behind Samuels in 18th was her fellow Briton Emma Stepto, who ran 2:35:41 to finish ahead of Rebecca Robinson with 2:36:51.
Earlier on and Tatyana McFadden had smashed her own course record to continue her dominance of female wheelchair racing, claiming her first IPC world marathon gold in the process.
Clocking 1:41:14 the American, who claimed triple track gold at the London 2012 Paralympics and also has 10 world track golds to her name, took almost four minutes off the course record she set last year, having also clocked a course record to win in 2013.
Crossing the line more than two and a half minutes clear, Switzerland’s Manuela Schar claimed the runner-up spot in 1:43:56 ahead of McFadden’s compatriot Amanda McGrory with 1:46:25.
“I’m relieved,” said McFadden. “The course is really winding and as it’s wet it’s really slidey and I had to focus on taking the turns and pushing out and I was trying to be safe.”
McGrory commented: “My goal was top five so I am very happy but I hate it when Joshua George makes more money than me.” Her compatriot George had earlier beaten six-time winner David Weir in a sprint finish in the men’s race.
Shelly Woods was among the athletes to have had their London Marathon campaigns cut short as she got a puncture, while Jade Jones was also forced to withdraw as she suffered leg pain.
A report of the men’s elite and wheelchair races can be found here.
» Look out for the April 30 edition of Athletics Weekly magazine – a bumper London Marathon coverage special issue packed with reports, news, results and photographs