Kenya’s double Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge won the Tokyo marathon on Sunday but narrowly failed to beat his own world record in a dominating performance.
Kipchoge made it to the finish line with the fourth-fastest time in history the race in 2hr 2min 40sec, which earned him the fourth of the world’s six major marathons.
The 37-year-old has now run three of the four fastest marathons in history and has ambitions to win a record-breaking third consecutive Olympic gold at Paris 2024.
After the race, he said he would aim for ‘one thing at a time’.
‘I think I am happy to run a course record here in Tokyo’, said Kipchoge, who joined a select club of athletes last year when he defended his 2016 Rio Olympics gold at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games.
‘I always say that I aim one thing at a time’, Kipchoge said.
‘I am going back to Kenya to talk with the coaches, talk with the management and my team about the opportunities and the goals that we are going to set together because we are working as a team’.
The Tokyo marathon was taking place for the first time in two years because of the pandemic, and it took an unexpected twist when the leading pack made a wrong turn around the 10km mark.
The runners had to double back on themselves after following a TV truck in the wrong direction, disrupting their rhythm and costing them about 10 seconds.
Kenyan Amos Kipruto was the only runner able to keep up with Kipchoge until the world record holder broke free around the 35km mark.
Kipchoge crossed the tape to savour victory finally in Tokyo, having won his Olympic title in Sapporo last summer after the race was relocated over heat concerns.
‘The reason I came back, first, was to run in the streets of Tokyo as I promised last year’, said Kipchoge.
‘Second was to come and run strong, third was to come and inspire the world, fourth was to come and enjoy the streets of Tokyo by telling people that if we come together we can resolve’.
Kipruto finished second in a personal-best 2:03.13 and Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola was third in 2:04.14.
Ethiopian Mosinet Geremew, who entered the race with the fourth-fastest marathon time in history, dropped out around the 25km mark.
Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei, another world record holder, won the women’s race in 2:16.02.
Ethiopia’s Ashete Bekere was second in 2:17:58, while her compatriot Gotytom Gebreslase was third in 2:18.18.
Kipchoge was making his debut in Tokyo, one of the six major marathons alongside New York, Berlin, Chicago, London and Boston.
Kipchoge had already won in London, Chicago and Berlin and it is one of his career objectives to land all six.
He made history in 2019 by breaking the two-hour barrier in a specially designed challenge run, but his 1:59.40 does not count as a world record primarily because of the use of 41 rotating pacemakers.