The emerging pedigree of Scottish distance running was perhaps best underlined when, in the closing miles of today's London Marathon, 23-year-old Callum Hawkins passed Dennis Kimetto - the current marathon world record holder - en route to secure not only an eighth place but a substantial PB. The Scots triumvirate, which consisted of Callum’s brother, Derek, and Tsegai Tewelde, were the three fastest UK athletes in the field.
London once again proved it is one of the central players on the worldwide racing circuit with an event that welcomed its one millionth finisher, witnessed a dramatic (and race changing) fall, a new course record, and so very nearly a world record as well.
Conditions were conducive for fast times and so it proved with Callum Hawkins putting in a measured, mature and what could be a career-defining performance of 2:10:52, almost 90 seconds faster than his previous best marathon time at Frankfurt. The time was well under the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:14.
Shettleston Harrier Tsegai Tewelde will also be on his way to Rio this summer after taking 12th place in 2:12:23, again well inside the required mark and securing the final automatic qualifying spot. It was a day of PBs for the Hawkins brothers as Derek finished in 2:12:57, slicing more than a minute off his previous best, also in Frankfurt. In the women’s competition, Freya Ross marked her return to action with a strong showing of 2:37:52 and 18th position.
At the front of the field, the leading men setting a blistering early pace: at 10 miles the front pack were on world record time, at 13.1 miles they ran the quickest half marathon seen at London, and, passing 30k at 1:27:13 they were once again in world record territory.
Eliud Kipchoge and Stanley Biwott led the charge for the remaining miles yet it was Kipchoge who prevailed in what is being heralded as the most impressive marathon performance in history. Kipchoge clocked 2:03:05 – just eight seconds behind Kimetto’s record – and looked unaware as to how close he was. Crossing the line, he placed his hand on his head and seemed to say, “I didn’t know.” The time however, was the fastest ever at London and Kipchoge will surely challenge the WR again in the coming years.
The women’s race hinged on one critical incident around mile 22 when the leading runners were involved in a heavy collision. This broke the momentum of the pack and saw Jemima Sumgong and defending champion Tigist Tufa break away and battle it out for the last mile.
Tufa was, however, unable to retain her title as the 31-year-old Sumgong secured her most illustrious win to date 2:22:58 in 2:23:03. Florence Kiplagat took third in 2:23:39, while Priscah Jeptoo and Mary Keitany, who was involved in the fall, took eight and ninth respectively.