21 Apr

London Rises To Marathon Occasion

runners at Virgin London marathon

36,000 runners invoked a spirt of remembrance and defiance and combined with huge crowds around the course to make the 2013 renewal of Virgin London marathon a unique one. A pre-race silence, black ribbons on vests and hundreds of posters on the route highlighted the sense of solidarity with the dead and injured of Monday's tragic Boston marathon.

Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede showed plenty of defiance himself in the men's race. In a well-judged performance he reeled in Emmanuel Mutai over the last two miles. Mutai, the course record-holder, looked all over the winner when he passed Stanley Biwott. He then went through 40k in 1:58:47, 28 seconds ahead of Kebede. However the short solidly-built Ethiopian had the reserves to wear down Mutai and he crossed the line 2:06:03, 30 seconds to the good. Kebede's fellow Ethipioan Ayele Abshero was third.

Ethiopian's filled three of the first four places upsetting predicitions that the event would be dominated by Kenyan stars Wilson Kipsang, Patrick Makau and Geoffrey Mutai, who failed to make a mark on the race.

However there was consolation for Kenya in the women's race which saw a modestly-run first half. The race came alive after the field crossed the river and soon it turned into a match between Priscah Jeptoo and world champion Edna Kiplagat. At 20 miles Jeptoo cranked up the pressure - the split times reduced dramatically - and was soon clear.

Jeptoo broke the tape on 2:20:15 - 77 seconds ahead of Kiplagat with Japan's Yoko Shibui in third. Great Britain's Susan Partridge came ninth holding on for a time of 2:30:46 and qualification for the World Championships in August.

Kurt Fearnley produced the best race of his career to win the wheelchair race edging Marcel Hug in a close finish with crowd favourite David Weir back in fifth. However it was an unhappy day for Canadian wheelchair racer Josh Cassidy. He crashed into Olympic champion Tiki Gelani, scuppering his own race and effectively ending the fancied Gelani's chances in the women's event.

On a brighter note Richard Whitehead, a double amputee running on blades, drew a fantastic response from the crowd which helped him to a 3:15 finish. Tatyana McFadden was a popular winner in the women's wheelchair race; the American completing a poignant transatlantic double having won the same event in Boston on Monday.