LONDON – Kenyan runner Mary Keitany broke Paula Radcliffe’s women-only marathon world record on Sunday with a third victory in London, while Daniel Wanjiru won the men’s race for the first time.
The 35-year-old Keitany completed the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) course in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 1 second to shave 41 seconds off Radcliffe’s 12-year-old mark.
The retired British athlete still remains a world-record holder. Radcliffe fought six years ago with the IAAF to ensure her 2003 marathon time of 2 hours, 15 minutes, 25 seconds – with two male pacemakers – was still recognized as a record rather than just a world-best.
Keitany was on track to break that outright world record halfway through Sunday’s race in the British capital in sunny conditions, but the pace eased up. She still ran to victory to seize the women-only record. Tirunesh Dibaba was 55 seconds behind Keitany while fellow Ethiopian, Aselefech Mergia, was third.
“It was very fast pace and I tried to follow it,” Keitany said. “I think the course has changed a little bit and it felt better than before. The weather was really good this year. Last year it was very, very cold. My body felt fit enough and I have trained well and I tried to push all the time. I’m very happy with the finish time. Parts of the course are hilly but I train in a very similar area in Kenya so it was not too different for me.”
The women’s marathon was missing its defending champion. Keitany’s compatriot, Jemima Sumgong, tested positive for the blood booster EPO in a surprise out-of-competition doping test in Kenya in February.
The men’s race had a royal start, with Prince William, wife Kate and brother Harry pressing a button to sound the klaxon. The 24-year-old Wanjiru won his first major marathon in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 48 seconds. That was nine seconds faster than Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, while Bedan Karoki was third.
“In the beginning the race was very fast and we were inside world record pace. It was the pace I was preparing for,” Wanjiru told the BBC. “We tried to maintain that pace for half of the race. From there it was becoming tougher and tougher. The sun was coming and the day was beautiful, but we don’t need too much sun!”
There was a British winner in the wheelchair race, with David Weir storming to his seventh victory in the event to end four years of frustration since his last success. The 37-year-old Weir retired from track competition last year after the six-time Paralympic champion failed to win a medal at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
“It’s the first time I’ve felt comfortable in years,” Weir said. “It’s been a tough four months personally. I’ve had a lot of background problems in my personal life. It’s been tough, especially after Rio. I needed to focus and sort out my head. I knew I had it in the last corner. All I was thinking was `win, win, win.“’
In the women’s wheelchair winner, Manuela Schar of Switzerland followed up her Boston win on Monday with success in London.
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