Watch Out Eliud Kipchoge: Kelvin Kiptum Runs 59:45 2nd Half, Wins London in 2:01:25

Eliud Kipchoge, it’s time to get nervous.

In tennis, when Roger Federer rose to the top of the ranks, it was hard to fathom that anyone could possibly ever be better than him in tennis. From 2003 to 2009, he made the final of 21 of 28 grand slams, winning 15 of them. However, soon Federer’s status as the GOAT – greatest of all time – was being challenged by the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

In the marathon, it’s long been hard to fathom anyone being better than Eliud Kipchoge but after today’s 2023 TCS London Marathon, it certainly appears that Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum has the capability of breaking Kipchoge’s marathon world record.

Less than five months after the 23-year-old Kiptum recorded the fastest debut in marathon history (2:01:53) in Valencia by running the fastest second half in marathon history (60:15), Kiptum was even better in London as he ran his second half in 59:45 and ran 2:01:25, the 2nd fastest time in history, blitzing his closest competitor by nearly three minutes.

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Kiptum now has run two marathons in his life and run 2:01 in both of them while also recording the greatest second-half split in both races. Kiptum’s second half today was the fastest half ever run in a marathon as it surpassed the 59:51 Eliud Kipchoge ran in the first half of Berlin last fall. Making it all the more impressive was the fact that the rainy conditions the race was held in resulted in all of the other top male and female competitors slowing down and running positive splits.

The Race

A lead pack of eight men hit halfway in 61:40 (Kenenisa Bekele was six seconds back in 61:46). At 30k (1:27:23 – 2:02:55 pace), when the last rabbit dropped out, the lead pack was down to just five men and it was time for Kiptum to throw the hammer down and destroy the field. He immediately took off and put on one of the finest displays in marathoning history.

4:33 for mile 19, 4:23 for mile 20, 4:27 for mile 21. His 5k split from 30k to 35k was 13:49. From 35k to 40k, it was 14:01 with a 4:23 24th mile in the midst of it. Even though Kiptum had the race well in hand as his lead at 40k was nearly 2 minutes, he kept pushing. He ran the 2.195km from 40k to the finish in 6:12 (14:07 pace) and he was absolutely sprinting coming down the finishing straight.

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It was a thing of beauty to watch. Once across the line, Kiptum lay down in exhaustion but soon got up to celebrate.

What an effort.

It was a long while before anyone else crossed the finish line as the quick opening pace and wet conditions resulted in every other top competitor in both the men’s and women’s race running positive splits. Yet somehow Kiptum ran his second half in 59:45.

Two-time world cross country and three-time world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor ran a full minute pb of 2:04:23 to finish second with world champ Tamirat Tola third in 2:04:59. 

Brit Emile Caress (27:34/60:12 pbs), who recently admitted he used to use the messageboard for his training ideas and is coached by Renato Canova, ran 2:08:07 in his debut for top British honors as Mo Farah ran 2:10:28 in his final London as an elite. Kenenisa Bekele, who stayed with the leaders for almost halfway, ended up dropping out between 25k and 30k.

Top Men’s Results

Quick Take: Kiptum was sensational

From the very start, Kiptum looked full of run. The very first note we wrote down while watching this race live was this: “Mile 1: 4:46. Kiptum is right on the pacers. Kipruto, Tola not far behind.”

At times, Kiptum was surging ahead of the pacers at the water stations.

We now know why. They were just holding him back. If you take Kiptum’s fitness today and put him in Berlin in the same conditions as when Kipchoge ran his world record, we believe Kiptum runs a world record. And he’s only 23.

Additional Quick Takes from Jonathan Gault in London.

Quick Take: Kelvin Kiptum looked incredible until the final mile

Kiptum put an incredible 2:58 on the men’s leaders from 30k to the finish, largely because he split a ridiculous 45:21 from 15 to 25 miles (1:58:54 pace). Only 23 men have ever run that fast for 10 miles (granted, the distance is not raced very often).

Another way to look at it. Earlier this month, Hillary Bor set the American record of 46:06 for 10 miles. Ryan Hall has the American record in the half marathon at 59:43. Kiptum ran those same distances today in 45:21 and 59:45 – and that’s after a 61:40 opening half.

Kiptum said he still thinks he is a few years away from breaking the world record. We disagree. If he has the same fitness and conditions as he did today and goes out on WR pace, he could break the WR – and perhaps smash it – in Berlin this fall.

Quick Take: Geoffrey Kamworor is back, baby

Kamworor has had his share of injury struggles in recent years but was brilliant today. He could not hold on to Kiptum, but he was more than 30 seconds ahead of everyone else in a personal best of 2:04:23. Kamworor said that he’s been healthy since the start of the year and he said before the race he was in his best shape since winning the NYC Marathon in 2017 and 2019. He proved it today and is now looking forward to even bigger things – he wants to run the Olympic marathon for Kenya in 2024 after missing out on the track in 2021.

“Absolutely, yes,” Kamworor said when we asked if he thought today’s run sent a message. “It’s a great inspiration and it’s a great sign that I’m back.”

Quick Take: A great debut by Emile Cairess, but he said he wanted even more

Most of Britain’s attention was on Mo Farah today, but Farah had a disappointing final marathon as he went out on 2:07 pace but could not hold on and faded to 9th in 2:10:28. Instead it was 25-year-old Emile Cairess, making his marathon debut, who finished as top Brit in 6th in 2:08:07. Cairess, who has been coached by Renato Canova since last year and was 2nd at Euro XC behind Jakob Ingebrigtsen in December, now has the Olympic standard and is the 3rd-fastest Brit in history behind Farah (2:05:11) and Steve Jones (2:07:13).

But Cairess is not satisfied. He said he moved to the marathon early so that by the time he is at his physical peak he will have the experience to match his fitness and said today was a good learning experience. He said he got a bit overexcited by splitting 14:54 from 30k to 35k and ran out of gas at the end.

“It would have been nice to be 2:07,” Cairess said. “My dream goal was sub-2:07.”

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Women’s Recap: Sifan Hassan Gets Dropped Early, Storms Back To Win 2023 London Marathon In one of the most stunning performances in marathoning history, mile world record holder Sifan Hassan came from behind to win her marathon debut in London over arguably the greatest field ever assembled.

Complete 2023 London Marathon Coverage

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