Jepchirchir sets women's-only marathon record

Reigning Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya crushed the women’s-only world record in winning the London Marathon on Sunday.

Jepchirchir, 30, pulled away over the final 300 meters in a sprint finish, crossing the finish line in front of Buckingham Palace in 2 hours, 16 minutes, 16 seconds to break Mary Keitany’s mark of 2:17:01 set at the 2017 London race.

“I thought the race would be fast and that the record would go, but I was not expecting it to be me,” Jepchirchir said. “It’s because I believe in myself. As I crossed the finish line, I thought about how grateful I am for this to be my last event representing Kenya before I head to Paris. I now know I have a great chance to defend my title in Paris.”

Tigst Assefa of Ethiopia, who clocked 2:11:53 at the Berlin Marathon in September to set a world record for women in a race alongside male runners, crossed second in 2:16.23.

Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya, the 2021 London winner, was third in 2:16.24.

Alexander Mutiso Munyao of Kenya held off Kenenisa Bekele in the final 3 kilometers to win the men’s race in 2:04:01.

Mutiso Munyao and Bekele were in a two-way fight until the Kenyan made his move as they ran along the River Thames, quickly building a six-second gap that only grew as he ran toward the finish in front of Buckingham Palace.

“I’m happy for winning the race today, and at 40 kilometers, I got some pressure from Kenenisa Bekele but I had a lot of confidence because I trained for this race,” Mutiso Munyao said. “So I said: Let me be confident. After 40 kilometers, I thought I had energy enough to win today’s marathon.”

Mutiso Munyao is relatively unknown in marathon circles and said he wasn’t sure whether this win would be enough to make Kenya’s Olympic team for Paris.

“I hope for the best,” he said. “If they select me, I will go and work for it.”

Ethiopian Bekele finished 14 seconds behind. Emile Cairess was third, more than two minutes back, to become the first British man on the podium in London since 1996.

Bekele, who was an Olympic 5,000- and 10,000-meter champion, was also the runner-up in London in 2017 but has never won the race. The 41-year-old did lower his own masters world record by 4 seconds.

Cairess dedicated his race to his cousin, who survived a serious car crash recently.

“It was a really tough time,” the 26-year-old said. “I was emotional this morning. I am so proud to do this for him today. It’s not all about the time and the performance.”

Marcel Hug earned his fifth London win in the men’s wheelchair race, finishing in 1:28:35. Catherine Debrunner won the women’s wheelchair race in 1:38:54.

Prior to Sunday’s race, the London Marathon paid tribute to last year’s winner Kelvin Kiptum, the world-record holder who was killed along with his coach in a car crash in his native Kenya in February.

Kiptum had set a London Marathon course record of 2:01:25 in 2023 — finishing nearly three minutes ahead of his closest rival — before setting the world record at last year’s Chicago Marathon.

A video of his London win was played before the start of the men’s race Sunday, before a period of applause by the runners and the crowd at both the start area in Greenwich and the finish.

Mutiso Munyao said he spoke to Kiptum after his win in London last year and that the world-record holder is always on his mind when he’s competing.

“He’s in my thoughts every time, because he was my great friend,” Mutiso Munyao said. “It was a good day for me.”

On a breezy day, approximately 50,000 runners were expected to cross the finish line of the 26.2-mile race that snakes along the River Thames, making this year’s edition the largest London Marathon.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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