Eliud Kipchoge Wins 2022 Tokyo Marathon in 2:02:40 to Move One Step Closer to World Marathon Majors Sweep
March 6, 2022
New race. Same result.
After collecting major marathon wins in Chicago (once), London (4 times), Berlin (3 times), and the Olympics (twice) over the past decade, Eliud Kipchoge lined up for his first Tokyo Marathon on Sunday morning (Saturday night US) and did what he always does: conduct an absolute masterclass in marathon running. On a good but slightly windy day for racing (sunny, 47 degrees Fahrenheit, 7 mph winds at start but DarkSky listed 13 mph winds with gusts up to 20mph with 30 minutes left), Kipchoge ran 2:02:40, the fourth-fastest marathon in history, after dropping fellow Kenyan Amos Kipruto, the 2019 World Championship bronze medalist, shortly after 36 kilometers.
Kipchoge has now won 14 marathons overall, including nine World Marathon Major events and two Olympic marathons. With wins in Tokyo, London, Berlin, and Chicago, he joins Wilson Kipsang as the only men to have won four different WMM events since the series began in 2006. Only Boston and New York remain for Kipchoge to complete an unprecedented sweep.
Kipruto finished second in 2:03:13 (moving into a tie for 9th on the all-time list), with Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola third in 2:04:14 and Japanese record holder Kengo Suzuki 4th in 2:05:28. Those times would have been even faster had the lead pack not made a wrong turn shortly after the 10k mark, costing them roughly 10 seconds (a couple of the lead vehicles appeared to make a wrong turn, with the athletes following right when they should have turned left). Suzuki was not in the lead pack at the time so his time was unaffected.
Thanks to the good conditions and a downhill first 5k, the race began quickly with five men hitting halfway in 61:03 behind a trio of pacemakers. But as Kipchoge plowed on, his perfect form betraying no hint of fatigue, the rest of the pack began to fall off one-by-one, with a 14:25 split from 25k to 30k (which they passed in 1:26:51, or 2:02:09 pace) whittling the field to just Kipchoge and Kipruto.
The two Kenyans would run side-by-side for a few miles, Kipruto helped by the fact that their 5k split from 30k to 35k (14:39) was their slowest of the race. But as soon as Kipchoge upped the pace a hair at 36k, Kipruto would not respond, and Kipchoge would run unchallenged over the final five kilometers, romping to yet another major marathon victory.
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Quick take: This is getting ridiculous
Considering he’s won 14 of the 16 official marathons he’s started in his life (and run 2:00:25 and 1:59:40 in his two other exhibitions) and we crowned him the greatest marathon of all-time in 2016, maybe we shouldn’t be amazed by Eliud Kipchoge, but we are. Each time he races, there is a little bit of doubt in our minds, “surely he can’t make it look so easy again.” But he does.
His running style is a thing of beauty, and he doesn’t appear to have aged at all since he started winning majors eight years ago.
Kipchoge’s longevity is simply incredible. He won his first major in 2014, when Geoffrey Mutai, Dennis Kimetto, and Wilson Kipsang were the best marathoners in the world. Those guys are long gone from the marathon, yet Kipchoge is now into his third Olympic cycle of dominance and still running 2:02. It’s anyone’s guess as to when his reign over the marathon will end.
Quick take: On to New York and Boston
The only thing left for Eliud Kipchoge to do in the marathon is to complete the World Marathon Major sweep.* Kipchoge has never won a hilly marathon, mainly we imagine because he’s never raced one. Hopefully, the running world gets to see him in New York this fall and Boston next spring.
*Actually we take that back. Winning all six majors (plus the Olympics) isn’t the only thing he could do. He might as well do it with style points and hold the course record at all six (plus the Olympics). He’s currently the course record holder in Berlin, London and Tokyo. However, despite having won the Olympics twice and Chicago once, he’s not the Chicago course record holder or Olympic record holder. Dennis Kimetto ran 2:03:45 in Chicago in 2013 in the pre-super shoe era, while Sammy Wanjiru ran an Olympic record of 2:06:32 in Beijing in 2008 in a race that redefined what people thought was possible in the marathon. Wanjiru’s race was so inspirational it motivated LetsRun coaching guru John Kellogg to write his only race recap in the 20+ years of LRC: 2008 Olympic Men’s Marathon Recap: Outrageous Pace Pays Off; Wanjiru Hammers to Kenya’s First Marathon Gold
One other thing Kipchoge hasn’t done is win the World Championship marathon. With the Worlds in Eugene this year – the birthplace of Kipchoge’s sponsor Nike – we wouldn’t be shocked if he tried to win Worlds in 2022 and then went for the Boston/NYC double in 2023.
Quick Take: 27 guys broke 2:10 in Tokyo today, with 20 of them from Japan
If that number shocks you, it shouldn’t. The last time the race was held, 28 guys broke 2:10, including 21 from Japan.
Talk about the race on our world-famous messageboard.
- Tokyo Marathon is this Saturday at 7:10 pm ET – Official Discussion Thread
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- 20 Japanese men just broke 2:10 at the 2022 Tokyo Marathon
For complete coverage, including the women’s recap go to our 2022 Tokyo Marathon event page.