Why Kipchoge lost in the London Marathon

Marathon record holder promises to come back stronger for the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In Summary

•Kipchoge said that his right ear was blocked and then he really cramped midway through the race

•He finished eighth as Ethiopia's Shura Kitata took top honours ahead of Kenya's Vincent Kipchumba

•Kipchoge vows a lethal assault on the Tokyo Olympics in 2021

Vincent Kipchumba and
Vincent Kipchumba and
Image: FILE

World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge has bemoaned an ear problem and leg cramp for his surprise loss in Sunday's London Marathon. 

Kipchoge, the favourite heading into the race, finished eighth  in 2:06.49 as Ethiopian Shura Kitata clinched his first ever marathon win. 

"I'm really disappointed. I had a problem with my right ear after it blocked, and then I really cramped and had problems with my hip from about the last 15 km. It's really cold but I don't blame the conditions and I'm still there to come back again," Kipchoge said. 

Kipchoge had won 12 of his 13 previous marathons – the blip being a second place behind a then-world record in his second outing over the distance in Berlin in 2013.

In the absence of injured Kenenisa Bekele, Kipchoge was widely expected to lift a fifth London crown but was never able to impose his usual speed in the relentless cold rain.

He was in a pack who went through halfway in just under 63 minutes—very pedestrian in relation to his recent races, not least his official world record of 2:01.39 set in Berlin two years ago.

Ethiopians Lemma and Tamirat Tola, both sporting woollen hats to stave off the cold, took up the running as the field began to realise that perhaps Kipchoge was struggling. They were right.

The favourite, whose face never usually gives any indication of suffering, was showing the occasional grimace and he lacked his usual smoothness.

At one point the leaders clocked a five minute mile, a virtual jog at elite level. Then, as never previously seen during his all-conquering career, Kipchoge, 35, broke, dropping back from a pack of six with just over three miles to go.

After the race, wearing gloves and a huge padded coat, Kipchoge said: "It’s not the end of the world that I can't win - that's sport. If you're beaten, you don’t go to a tree and hang yourself."

He said he would return to training and a probable assault on the Olympics next year.

Earlier, Kenyan world record holder Brigid Kosgei was a comfortable winner of the women's race in 2:18.58 as American Sara Hall produced a great finish to snatch second from Ruth Chepngetich.

The races, originally postponed from April because of the COVID-19 pandemic, were run over almost 20 laps of a fenced-off course in a "controlled secure biosphere" around St James's Park.

Although there was no mass field this year, around 40,000 people are running the distance at venues of their choice through the day. They will receive official finisher’s medals and raise millions of pounds for charities hard hit by the cancellation of the April race.