Kebede, Jeptoo win sombre London Marathon

BITTERSWEET: London Marathon winners Tsegaye Kebede, right, of Ethiopia and Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya pose with their trophies on the Mall in central London on Sunday. Undaunted by the Boston Marathon bombings, big crowds lined the route of London’s mass road race on Sunday to cheer on about 36,000 runners, many of whom wore black ribbons to remember the dead and wounded. Picture: REUTERS

LONDON — Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede and Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya triumphed at a sombre London Marathon on Sunday, as runners paid tribute to the victims of the deadly bomb attacks at the Boston Marathon.

Kebede hunted down 2011 champion Emmanuel Mutai to win the men’s race, while Jeptoo surged to victory in the women’s event, eight months on from her second-place finish at the London Olympics.

The men’s and mass start races were preceded by 30 seconds of silence in memory of the three people killed and about 180 injured in last Monday’s bombings in Boston, while competitors donned black ribbons in tribute.

After a frenetic start in the men’s race, Mutai led Stanley Biwott, Feyisha Lilesa and Ayele Abshero past the 30km mark just 10 seconds outside world-record pace. Biwott tried to force the issue but Mutai resisted his Kenyan countryman’s efforts to break clear and found himself in the lead. However, he began to flag as he approached the Houses of Parliament and Kebede tore past him to cross the line in a time of two hours, six minutes and three seconds.

Mutai trailed in second, with Abshero third.

British Olympic star Mo Farah had helped set the early pace before dropping out, as planned, after an hour.

The 5,000m and 10,000m champion at last year’s London Olympic Games is preparing to compete over the full distance next year, but he said he had struggled with the demands of marathon running.

“The pace is not a problem. The biggest challenge is picking up the right drink and I think I made a mess of it,” Farah said.

“I’ve learnt the biggest lesson of my life, really. If I come here next year and make a mess of it, it’d be hard to deal with, so it’s opened my eyes.”

Jeptoo, who finished third in last year’s race, streaked away from the women’s field to claim victory ahead of compatriot Edna Kiplagat and Yukiko Akaba of Japan.

London Olympic champion Tiki Gelana collided with men’s wheelchair athlete Josh Cassidy at a drinks station after 52 minutes, and the Ethiopian’s challenge never recovered.

As Gelana toiled, Jeptoo led a three-woman breakaway that also featured world champion Edna Kiplagat and 2011 Berlin Marathon champion Florence Kiplagat.

The organisers have pledged to donate £2 for every finisher to a fund for the Boston bombing victims.

Sapa-AFP

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