4th Times A Charm: Edna Kiplagat Wins 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

LONDON (13-Apr) — After finishing third, second and second the last three years, Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat, the reigningtwo-time world champion, notched her first London win in four tries in an exciting sprint finish over Florence Kiplagat (no relation) in 2:20:21.  Over 36,000 runners started the race held in near-perfect conditions.

The women’s race was a torrid affair right from the starter’s gun.  After a slightly impetuous first kilometer, the lead group pacemakers, Kenyans Joyce Chepkirui and Josephine Jepkoech, settled down and did a fine job of moving the race along at a fast, but realistic, pace.  They clipped through 10 kilometers in 32:48 (2:18:24 pace), and Kiplagat ran comfortably at the back of the pack.

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Edna Kiplagat wins 2014 London Marathon Edna Kiplagat wins 2014 London Marathon

In the 7th mile (12th kilometer), Florence Kiplagat upped the pace, and two strong Ethiopians, Aberu Kebede and Feysa Tadese, fell off the back. Reigning Olympic champion Tiki Gelana, who had been running stiffly at the back of the pack, also fell out of contention and eventually finished 9th in 2:26:58.  The high pace was visibly evident because the group was running single file by the time they came to 15-K (49:04).  Soon, the race was down to four behind pacemaker Chepkirui: the two Kiplagats, debutante Tirunesh Dibaba and defending champion (and TCS New York City Marathon champion) Priscah Jeptoo.

“When we were the five of us I saw the group was still strong,” Kiplagat told reporters.

After a very fast 16th mile (5:13), Jeptoo suddenly stopped in the 17th mile and was out of the race.  Her coach, Claudio Berardelli, later told Race Results Weekly that Jeptoo felt a pop in her calf and had to stop immediately (she was seen limping badly back at the athletes hotel later).  With Chepkirui also out, it was down to just three.

Then, disaster struck Dibaba.  At the 30-K fluid station, she dropped her bottle and stopped cold to pick it up.  The two Kiplagat’s bolted, and within moments Dibaba was out of contention.

“The only thing that I’m very much disappointed about was the water,” Dibaba told the media after the race through a translator.  “When I took the water, it first fell down.  I tried to get it, so, I couldn’t manage it proper.”

Edna Kiplagat (l) would win the battle of the Kiplagats in the final 300 Edna Kiplagat (l) would win the battle of the Kiplagats in the final 300

From 30-K (1:39:11) to the final finish straight on The Mall, Kiplagat and Kiplagat would run side by side.  The race wasn’t decided until the last 200 meters when Edna sprinted away from Florence with one powerful move for her first London Marathon win in 2:20:21.

“In the last 200 meters I tried to have good speed, and that’s when I found that I’m going to win the race,” Kiplagat said.  “I was really happy because that last three years I tried, but I knew I have experience and I knew the training which I did, I practiced mostly speed.”

Florence Kiplagat finished three seconds back in 2:20:24.  Facing the press, she at first looked glum, but then perked up.  “I’m very happy to be number two,” she said, jokingly calling Dibaba “a machine.”

Dibaba made an impressive debut, in 2:20:35 to round out the podium.  She told reporters that she planned to continue to run on the track, but that there would definitely be more marathons for her in the future.

“Yes, of course I plan to go back to the track,” she said, responding to a reporter’s question.  “But, I’m thinking to try a marathon once again because I don’t like to be second or third.  I have to be first all the time.”  She added: “I want to be first in marathon, too.”

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