After a superb 2019, former world half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei entered the world’s top ten fastest women marathoners following her stunning win at the London Marathon yesterday.
She did not only rule the scenic streets of London after beating a stellar field comprising world record holder and Olympic silver medallist Brigid Kosgei, but she became the seventh fastest woman marathoner on earth.
Yesterday, after missing in action in major global races last year, Jepkosgei cruised to a convincing 2:17:43 win at the English capital as the London Marathon returned to its traditional course, which saw thousands of exhilarated athletics enthusiasts lining up to cheer up world beaters. Last year, the race was run in a loop, without fans.
Jepkosgei who broke the half marathon world record in Valencia in 2017 transited to the full marathon in 2019, chalking up a historic win at the New York City 42km, a few months after winning 21km in the same city.
And yesterday in London, she extended the 2019 stellar performance, outclassing a strong field of Ethiopian women led by Degitu Azimeraw and Ashete Bekere, who finished second and third in 2:17:58 and 2:18:18 respectively.
Being the only Kenyan woman in the podium, Jepkosgei who trains in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County helped her compatriots retain the title.
Jepkosgei was however 42 seconds away from the London course mark set by Mary Keitany who ran a women-only marathon world record in 2017.
Brigid Kosgei who was in London to defend her 2020 title had an unlucky day after finishing fourth in the race.
A win for Brigid would have been a hat-trick because she also conquered London in 2019.
She was fresh from winning silver at the 2020 Olympic marathon in Sapporo, Japan in August. Observers say Brigid may not have had adequate time to prepare for the London race.
Jepkosgei on the other hand appeared well prepared. At the 36km, she tactically pulled away from a pack of five women and kept the tempo all the way to the tape.
Brigid fell back at the 35km mark, ending her hat-trick ambition and leaving Jepkosgei battling for the crown with the two Ethiopian women as well as Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter.
Salpeter, who was born in West Pokot launched an attack, going neck and neck with Jepkosgei, but lost the momentum in the last six kilometres.
Former Beijing marathon champion Valary Aiyabei remained in the leading pack until 1:26 minutes when she was outpaced. She settled in sixth place.
In the men’s category, Vincent Kipchumba finished second for the second time running. He had trailed just a second behind the 2020 winner Shura Kitata of Ethiopia, who could not defend his title yesterday.
Just like last year, Kipchumba who was the only Kenyan in the podium saved the country’s blushes, and might be accorded another heroic welcome at his home area near the Eldoret International Airport.
Valencia Marathon champion Evans Chebet came in fourth in 2:05:43.
Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma who finished third last year clinched the coveted trophy in the 2021 edition and will be going home with an enormous Sh6 million in prize money just like Jepkosgei.
The star-studded field could not attack the 2:02:37 course record set by world record holder and two-time Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge in 2019.