by Weldon Johnson, LetsRun.com
April 21, 2013
Eight months after getting Olympic silver on the streets of London, Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya crossed the finish line first at Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon.
If Jeptoo was seeking redemption over Olympic champion Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia, Jeptoo did not get it here. Unfortunately this race will be remembered for one thing, wheelchair racer Josh Cassidy plowing into the Olympic champion Tiki Gelana just past the 15km mark and knocking Gelana down. Gelana went down hard, very hard. Fortunately, neither Gelana nor Cassidy was seriously hurt in the collision. Gelana would rejoin the lead back before fading and courageously finishing in 2:36.55.
Full video of the fall below that shows the wheelchair racers approaching at a high rate of speed and Gelana unaware cutting over to her water bottle sharply:
A wheelchair racer and a runner colliding is something that can not happen at any race. Something must be changed before next year’s race as the clip shows this was a disaster waiting to happen.
While the fall detracted from Jeptoo’s win, it should not detract from the marvelous race she ran as she powered away from World Champion Edna Kiplagat over the final miles to win in 2:20:15 to Kiplagat’s 2:21:32 as Yukiko Akaba of Japan moved up for 3rd in 2:24:43.
The women reached the half-way mark in a modest time for this field, which included four sub-2:20 women, of 1:11:49 as nine women were still in contention. They had started quickly (16:36, for the first 5k which is 2:20 flat pace) then slowed tremendously the next 5k (17:35 2nd 5k which is 2:28:33 pace), before dealing with the fall. After the fall, Gelana would rejoin the lead pack and remain with the leaders nearly through 25k, so she managed to run nearly 10km with the lead after the fall.
Things Heat Up Between 20k and 30k
Between 20k and 25k is when the real racing began as the pace dropped to a super fast 16:02 for that 5k (16:00 for 5k is 2:15:02 for a full marathon). That narrowed the field to four: Priscah Jeptoo and Edna Kiplagat, plus Florence Kiplagat (no relation) of Kenya and Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia.
Edna Kiplagat kept hammering away at the front and soon we were down to the three Kenyans. Then Florence Kiplagat cracked and we were down to Edna Kiplagat and Jeptoo. Edna Kiplagat ran 16:03 from 25k to 30k where she had opened up a slight gap (10 meter) on Jeptoo. Jeptoo hung close and soon rejoined Kiplagat at the front.
These ladies were really pushing it. Mile 17 (according to race broadcast) was 5:13, mile 18 5:05, mile 19 5:13. The pace started to take its toll a little bit as mile 20 was a slower 5:17.
A slight injection of pace by Jeptoo on mile 21 (5:11) was just enough to put Jeptoo in front and get her clear of Kiplagat. By 35k (21.75 miles) the lead had been extended to 17 seconds.
The race was now Jeptoo’s to lose. At 40k, her lead over Kiplagat was 58 seconds. The fast close had put the 2:20 barrier within reach, but in the end Jeptoo could not summon a sub 5:10 final mile and settled for a 2:20:15 dominant win.
Kiplagat was well clear of everyone else in 2nd in 2:21:32. The other two women who tried to stay with the fast second-half pace – Melkamu and Florence Kiplagat – paid the price for going for the win as the finished 5th and 6th respectively. Melkamu had been in 3rd at 40k, but would totally blow up the final 1.25 miles losing 1:29 to eventual third place finisher Yukiko Akaba of Japan.
Afterwards, Jeptoo conveyed how difficult it is to win in London. “I knew this morning I was going to run well. There was such a good field you were always worried someone would do better, and it wasn’t until around 25 miles that I got my confidence back and felt I could win,” she told race organizers.
LRC Quick Takes:
#1 The race is primarily responsible for the fall. Don’t even start trying to tell us that Gelana cut over for the water bottles too fast. The race is responsible for having a safe course and they did not provide that. End of story. Wheelchairs moving at a much higher rate of speed on the same course is dangerous.
QT #2: Jeptoo got the impressive win with some fine running the second half, but we’re left to wonder what if Gelana had not fallen. Maybe she would have been awful. Maybe she would have been amazing. We’ll never know.
QT#3: Jeptoo is very, very good. She ran 1:08:16 second-half here. However, that makes us appreciate even more what Mary Keitany did last year here, running1:07:44 the second half after a faster first half.
QT #4: Props to Tiki Gelana for finishing.
Results and splits below.
Women: Official Results
1. Priscah Jeptoo KEN 2:20:15
2. Edna Kiplagat KEN 2:21:32
3. Yukiko Akaba JPN 2:24:43
4. Atsede Baysa ETH 2:25:14
5. Meselech Melkamu ETH 2:25:46
6. Florence Kiplagat KEN 2:27:05
7. Mai Ito JPN 2:28:37
8. Alevtina Biktimirova RUS 2.30:02
9. Susan Partridge GBR 2:30:46
10. Irvette van Zyl RSA 2:31:26
Splits 1st half 1:11:49
2nd half 1:08:16
35k 16:21 (Jeptoo in front)