Kenyans top London Marathon

Kenyans top London Marathon

Kenyans top London Marathon

Turkish marathon runner Bekir Karayel competes at London Marathon. AA photo

Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany triumphed in the London Marathon yesterday, as the African nation served notice of its distance-running strength ahead of the Olympic Games this summer.

Turkish athlete Bekir Karayel, who has already booked his place at the London Olympics, finished 16th in two hours 13 minutes and 21 seconds, his career best and three minutes off the national record set by Mehmet Terzi in 1987.

“I’m very happy with the result, this was a good test for me ahead of the Olympics,” Karayel told the Anatolia news agency after the race. “I hope to be in the top 10 at the London Games.”

Kipsang, the second fastest man of all time, went clear of a class field in the closing stages and won in a time of two hours, four minutes and 44 seconds - just four seconds outside the course record set by fellow-Kenyan Emmanuel Mutai in last year’s race, Agence France-Presse reported.

He finished more than two minutes in front of compatriot Martin Lel (2:06:51), who overtook fellow former London champion Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia with a strong sprint finish. Kebede may have prevented a clean sweep in his race, but in the women’s event Mary Keitany successfully defended her title and enhanced her credentials for an Olympic gold this summer as Kenyan runners monopolized the top five spots.

Keitany left an outstanding field trailing to win in a time of 2:18:37, a new Kenyan national record and a personal best, well inside the time of 2:19:19 she posted in winning last year’s London Marathon.

World champion Edna Kiplagat finished second, more than a minute behind in 2:19:50, with world silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo a further 24 seconds behind in third.

Florence Kiplagat was fourth and Lucy Kabu fifth, with the strength in depth of the team leaving the Kenyan selectors with some tough choices to make ahead of the Olympic Marathon.

However, the Olympic route will be run over a significantly different course, albeit with a similar finishing stretch along the Mall, which is in front of Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Meanwhile, there was success for Britain in the wheelchair races, with Dave Weir and Shelly Woods ensuring a home double. Weir timed his finish to perfection to see off the challenge of Switzerland’s Marcel Hug and so win his sixth London title, while Woods overpowered her rivals to claim a second London victory in her career, finishing nearly four minutes ahead of Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida.