ADDIS ABEBA – World record holder Eliud Kipchoge was beaten in the London Marathon as Ethiopian athlete Shura Kitata won a thrilling sprint finish to claim an unexpected victory.
Four-time winner Kipchoge was the favorite, but fell behind with two laps to go and finished eighth.
Ethiopian Kitata pushed ahead of Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba on the home straight to finish in two hours five minutes and 41 seconds.
Kenay’s Brigid Kosgei, who holds the women’s world record, defended her title, in a race Ethiopia’s … pulled out after positive COVID-19 testing .
Both races were run in cold and wet conditions on a specially designed closed-loop course because of coronavirus restrictions.
The women’s race started at 07:15 BST with the men’s following three hours later and the wheelchair races, with male and female athletes competing at the same time, coming after.
‘Disappointed’ Kipchoge falls behind
Kipchoge, who last lost a marathon in 2013, said: “I am really disappointed. I don’t know what happened.
“The last 15km, I felt my right ear was blocked. I had cramp in my hip and leg.
“It just happened in the race. I started well. It’s really cold but I don’t blame the conditions.”
It was supposed to be a straightforward victory for defending champion Kipchoge, with Kenenisa Bekele pulling out injured on Friday.
But the 35-year-old Kenyan, who set a world record of 2:01.39 in 2018, never took the opportunity to pull away from an eight-strong leading pack in a slow start.
Kitata pushed the pace with 15 minutes to go and Kipchoge looked increasingly uncomfortable as he fell back.
Others dropped off too and eventually Kitata rounded the final corner into the home straight with compatriot Sisay Lemma and Kipchumba.
The 24-year-old managed to surge ahead and finish one second before Kipchumba, with Lemma three seconds further back.
“I prepared very well for this race,” Kitata said. “Kenenisa Bekele helped me. I am very happy to win the race.”