Women's Marathoning At Last Has A New Star In Mary Keitany

Kenyan Becomes =4th-Fastest Woman In History As She Produces World's First Sub-2:20 Since 2008

By LetsRun.com
April 17, 2011

Coming into Sunday's race, defending champion Liliya Shobukhova was without a doubt the best current female marathoner in the world over the last two years. In London on Sunday, Shobukhova ran a new personal best by 10 seconds and didn't win.

Yes, after a long wait, women's marathoning has a new star. In the second marathon of her life, half marathon world record holder Mary Keitany ran 2:19:19 to win the 2011 Virgin London Marathon. In the process of knocking almost 10 minutes off her previous marathon personal best (9:42 to be exact) and producing the world's first sub-2:20 performance from a woman since 2008, Keitany also tied Irina Mikitenko as the fourth-fastest performer in history.

The Race
Prior to the race, London marathon director Dave Bedford called the 2011 elite women's field "undoubtedly our strongest ever," and the women proved that on Sunday in remarkable fashion.

A pack of nine competitors went through the opening half in 70:37. With the pacesetter gone, the tempo picked up to 5:13 for the 14th mile and the lead pack was down to seven. Then suddenly it was down to one, as Keitany blitzed the 16th mile in 5:00. If one thought the marathon novice Keitany didn't know what she was doing, she followed that up with miles of 5:09, 5:09 and 5:11. At 30k, Keitany led by 33 seconds, and by 35 km, the lead was up to 1:09, as she covered the 30 km to 35 km stretch in 16:00 (5:09 mile pace). Shobukhova, who is known as maybe the greatest closer in women's marathon history, did close the gap down on Keitany over the final 7.2 km, but only barely, as the margin of victory was 56 seconds at the finish.

Until Sunday, Keitany was known as a half marathoner. Her second half of London was stunning. She ran the second half in 68:41, faster than the winning time at the New York Half Marathon last month.

22 Under 2:30
Behind Keitany and Shobukhova, the results were incredibly impressive. In all, a record 22 women finished 2:30:00 or under. The previous highest number of sub-2:30s in a marathon was 15. Finishing third, in the fastest third-place time in women's marathon history, was 2010 ING New York champion Edna Kiplagat in 2:20:46 with almost a 5-minute personal best (previous PR of 2:25:38). Kiplagat erased American Deena Kastor from the record books, as Kastor previously held the title of fastest third-placer ever thanks to her 2:21:16 then-American record performance in London in 2002.

The fourth through ninth place finishers all finished with 52 seconds of each other between 2:23:42 and 2:24:34 (see top 25 results below).

The top British finisher was Jo Pavey in her marathon debut. Pavey got under the British 2012 Olympic standard of 2:31:00 by running 2:28:24 to finish 19th. Also dipping under the British standard of was Louise Damen, who ran 2:30:00 to get 22nd.

2008 US Olympian Magdalena Lewy-Boulet went into Sunday's race hoping for her first sub-2:25 clocking. However, Lewy-Boulet, who went into the race with a 2:26:22 PR, went through halfway on pace in 72:27 but struggled over the final half and ended up 23rd in 2:31:22. Lewy-Boulet was on 2:26:24 pace at 30k but began to lose it thereafter and really struggled after 35 km (she ran 35 km to 40 km in 20:22).

Top 25 women's results appear below. Post-race comments and highlights of Keitany's triumph also below.

1 1 1 Keitany, Mary (KEN) 118 18-39 01:10:37 02:19:19
2 2 2 Shobukhova, Liliya (RUS) 101 18-39 01:10:37 02:20:15
3 3 3 Kiplagat, Edna (KEN) 115 18-39 01:10:38 02:20:46
4 4 4 Bekele, Bezunesh (ETH) 110 18-39 01:10:37 02:23:42
5 5 5 Baysa, Atsede (ETH) 106 18-39 01:10:37 02:23:50
6 6 6 Akaba, Yukiko (JPN) 114 18-39 01:11:27 02:24:09
7 7 7 Mikitenko, Irina (GER) 103 18-39 01:11:47 02:24:24
8 8 8 Augusto, Jessica (POR) 123 18-39 01:11:27 02:24:33
9 9 9 Kebede, Aberu (ETH) 113 18-39 01:10:37 02:24:34
10 10 10 Konovalova, Mariya (RUS) 111 18-39 01:10:39 02:25:18
11 11 11 Tafa, Askale (ETH) 105 18-39 01:10:38 02:25:24
12 12 12 Nojiri, Azusa (JPN) 133 18-39 01:11:27 02:25:29
13 13 13 Fujinaga, Yoshiko (JPN) 131 18-39 01:11:28 02:25:40
14 14 14 Zhu, Xiaolin (CHN) 112 18-39 01:11:27 02:26:28
15 15 15 Abitova, Inga (RUS) 107 18-39 01:11:27 02:26:31
16 16 16 Matsuoka, Noriko (JPN) 134 18-39 01:11:28 02:26:54
17 17 17 Perez, Madai (MEX) 136 18-39 01:12:45 02:27:02
18 18 18 Kiplagat, Lornah (NED) 108 18-39 01:12:39 02:27:57
19 19 19 Pavey, Jo (GBR) 122 18-39 01:12:28 02:28:24
20 20 20 Ogi, Madoka (JPN) 130 18-39 01:11:27 02:29:52
21 21 21 Nasukawa, Mizuho (JPN) 128 18-39 01:11:28 02:30:00
22 22 22 Damen, Louise (GBR) 144 18-39 01:13:33 02:30:00
23 23 23 Lewy-Boulet, Magdalena (USA) 116 18-39 01:12:27 02:31:22
24 24 24 Shigetomo, Risa (JPN) 135 18-39 01:12:01 02:31:28
25 25 25 Partridge, Susan (GBR) 141 18-39 01:16:03 02:34:13

London Men's Race: Emmanuel Mutai Runs The Best 10k Ever In A Marathon To Beat Star-Studded Field

Mary Keitany Post-Race Comments And Highlights (You can watch the full race here, but we understand some people on macs have had trouble)

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