LONDON (AP) - Eliud Kipchoge won the London Marathon for the first time on Sunday, leading home a Kenyan top four ahead of defending champion Wilson Kipsang.
Kipchoge, a former world 5,000-meter champion, completed the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) route in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 42 seconds in overcast conditions in the British capital.
“It was a tough race,” said the 30-year-old Kipchoge, who won the Chicago and Rotterdam marathons last year. “My training paid off and it went to plan. The crowd were wonderful and lifted me for my sprint finish.”
In a tight finale, Kipchoge broke clear of Kipsang in the final 800 meters before waving and pointing at the crowd in front of Buckingham Palace as he finished five seconds in front of his compatriot.
Kipsang still holds the course record of 2:04.29, which he set last year.
“I don’t mind the cold weather,” Kipsang said. “The crowd kept me going, it was a wonderful atmosphere.”
Kipchoge and Kipsang were followed home in the 35th annual race by Dennis Kimetto and Stanley Biwott.
But while Kenya dominated the men’s race, a four-year winning streak for the East African nation ended in the women’s event. Tigist Tufa became only the second Ethiopian woman to win in London, emulating Derartu Tulu’s triumph in 2001.
The 28-year-old Tufa won her first major marathon in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 22 seconds, with two-time winner Mary Keitany of Kenya 18 seconds adrift. Tufa’s compatriot, Tirfi Tsegaye, was third.
“The weather was very difficult for me and I found it a very slow race until the end and I was pushed,” Tufa said. “I was unwell at the end but I am very happy that I am OK now. I’ve always dreamed about winning the London Marathon.”
Running with the masses rather than the elite field was three-time winner Paula Radcliffe. The world record holder completed what could be her final marathon in an unofficial time of 2:36.55. It was within the IAAF qualifying requirements for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, but Radcliffe has ruled out a final shot at winning an Olympic medal.
Radcliffe, who set the world record of 2:15:25 in London in 2003, wanted to use Sunday’s race to say farewell.
“I went off way too fast. From then on it got more and more emotional,” the 41-year-old Radcliffe said. “There was a big sign at Embankment saying ‘We will miss you’, but it won’t be as much as I will miss you.
“It was so loud, my ears were ringing. It was just amazing the whole way round. All the way along, there were so many people giving me encouragement.”
Britain’s Prince Harry presented medals to the winners of the men’s and women’s races, and also gave a lifetime achievement award to Radcliffe.
The wheelchair races were swept by Americans, with Tatyana McFadden winning for the third successive year in London and Joshua George capturing the men’s title for the first time.
David and Victoria Beckham cheered on their 12-year-old son Romeo, who completed the children’s marathon which took place over the final five kilometers (three miles) of the full course.
Celebrity runners included Formula One driver Jenson Button, who finished with a personal best of 2:52:30. Button said running a marathon was “a lot more painful” than motor racing.
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