Meanwhile, the men’s race was not far off the all-time marathon record – at 01:01:25 – through the halfway point.
Big story, and a big move: Brigid Kosgei, the pre-race favourite, drops off the back of the women’s leaders, and that’s down to four as they head through a feeding station. Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, Joyciline Jepkosgei, Ashete Bekere, and Degitu Azimeraw are the remaining contenders, with Jepkosgei taking up the pace, and speeding off the front. Salpeter dropping off, too.
Oh no. Titus Ekiru of Ethiopia, who was up with the leaders in the men’s race, has just pulled up, and that looks to be his race run. And yet, he starts again, only to stop again soon after, and step off the course. It looked like a muscle injury.
The women’s elite race, now past halfway, is down to five and the women’s world record is at risk here. Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, Joyciline Jepkosgei, Brigid Kosgei, Ashete Bekere, and Degitu Azimeraw is that lead group.
Thrilling race for second and third in the women’s wheelchair. Three into two won’t go, and it’s 17-year-old Merle Menje who edges out Tatyana McFadden, with both finishing in 1:44:51. Nikita den Boer was fourth in 1:44:54. Menje looks to have a very bright future.
Schar’s time was another course record, of course. She completed in 1:39.51, and Marcel Hug offers her congratulations at the finish.
There was no doubt over who was going to win this one. She idles home, and takes a lonesome trip down the Mall. The winner of last week’s Berlin Marathon repeats her success, and it’s off to Boston next.
David Weir faces a real battle for third as they approach the finish in the men’s wheelchair race, and he gets home – just – by spinning past Brent Lakatos, the defending champion. The Weirwolf looks utterly exhausted as he pulls to a halt.
Manuela Schar is on the way to repeating that Swiss wheelchair success, as she whizzes past Waterloo Station. Daniel Romanchuk comes in to take second in the men’s race, his time well inside 90 minutes.
Hug is on the Mall and cruising to victory, past Buck House, and to the finish. A truly dominant win for him. Too easy.
Shura Kitata will not be repeating last year’s success, and has dropped off the back of the men’s race. His natty neon headband is receiving some applause from a packed crowd as they speed along the streets. Evans Chebet and Sisay Lemma, two of the other favourites, are up in the leading pack as they go through 10km.
Marcel Hug continues to blast away through the men’s wheelchair race at 25km. David Weir is over two minutes down and in third. Manuela Schar is doing similar to Swiss compatriot Hug in the women’s race.
Brigid Kosgei is among that group of leaders in the women’s elite race, while Shura Kitata, the men’s winner last year, is dropping a bit off the back, perhaps hampered by the hamstring problem he has suffered of late. The men’s race is staying with the pacemakers, and there may be a record in the offing if they keep that up.
Housekeeping, via the BBC.
One of the measures to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus is sending the mass participants off in waves.
They’re steadily marching down towards the startline in groups with 30 seconds between them. Every single group gets wild screams from the crowd.
Tracey and Simon Colley get in touch: “Just wanted to tell you about our daughter Joanna Colley who is a keen runner and had a qualifying place in this years marathon as an elite runner but had already promised her big sister she would run as Hey Duggee! The reason being her niece Matilda (our first granddaughter) was born with an undiagnosed heart condition and the AMAZING surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital fixed her up with open heart surgery at 9 days old. Matilda is now doing so well and her favourite TV character is Hey Duggee. All the ego / competitive obsession has been put to one side today to try and raise as much money to say thank you to GOSH.”
I had to look up Hey Dugee but all the best to you all.
The men’s wheelchair race sees Marcel Hug break away from Daniel Romanchuk, and as he cruises through what look like the streets of Wapping, looks totally in control.
The starter is Kye Whyte, the BMX silver medallist, who sets off the elite race, and following them is the rest of the field, who will start in 30 minute intervals, including categories for veterans.
The men’s race is here, and the racers are being announced. Who are the favourites. Here’s Sean Ingle from our preview piece.
Take the men’s race. Only seven men in history have run 2hr 03min or faster in the marathon – and four of them are in London. The whispers during the week were that Birhanu Legese, whose personal best of 2:02:48 is the best in the field, has been flying in training and is the one to beat. But strong cases can also be made for Mosinet Geremew, Evans Chebet and Titus Ekiru, whose bests are all within 12sec of the Ethiopian.
Through the streets of Greenwich they go and past Cutty Sark as Manuela Schar leads the women’s wheelchair race by a significant distance.
A slowish start to the women’s race, and there seems to be some kind of problem with pacemakers who are struggling to do their job. A few in the pack are coming off Tokyo and may have a bit to shake off before the race hots up later.
The men’s wheelchair race sees Daniel Romanchuk and Marcel Hug speed away from David Weir, and working together. Those two are the form athletes so it already looks a long way back for the British perennial.
The early part of the race takes them past an Esso petrol station, presumably closed for today, presumably busy at the moment the rest of the time. Petrol is at a severe premium at the moment in the capital.
So to the women’s elite race, where Brigid Kosgei is the favourite, despite only landing silver at the Olympics, though these are very different conditions than the Tokyo heatwave. She won this race is such style in 2019, and is the world record holder. Liz McColgan, whose greatest moment came in Tokyo herself, in 1991, gets them underway.
Marcel Hug, who dominated at the recent Paralympics, is on the tail of David Weir as they set off into the depths of South London….and is soon at the front of the race, just as he likes it. There’s plenty of speed bumps to make things difficult for them. Daniel Romanchuk, the winner in 2019, is in the mix. In the women’s race, and as expected, Manuela Schar takes the early lead.
And we are at the start of the wheelchair races where Britain’s David Weir goes in his 22nd London Marathon. Hannah Cockroft is the starter as the racers, from both men and women get underway. David Weir goes to the front from the start.
Here’s the start times, with the wheelchair events set to go in three minutes:
08:50 BST Elite wheelchairs
09:00 BST Elite women
09:30 BST Elite men and staggered mass start
Seems like ideal weather for running after yesterday in London when frankly, it tipped it down. Only the slower runners might get wet.
The British runner with probably the best hope didn’t even run at the Olympics. Liz McColgan won the race in 1996 and will be today’s official starter for the women’s race. Other British winners are Joyce Smith, Veronique Marot and of course Paula Radcliffe.
It’s been 30 months since London hosted the fun runners, the teddy bears, the well-meaning celebs, the novelty items, the banter crew biting off more than they can chew and the elite athletes. But Sunday sees the capital reduced to a standstill other than the fuel crisis, and it will be good to have it back as the runners career around the landmarks, the docklands, the Isle of Dogs and remind the TV viewers that London is not all pomp and circumstance, it’s a living, breathing city too. Before ending on the Mall, of course. Last year’s staging, such as it was, saw the elite runners do laps round St James’ Park, but this time the 40,000 runners will do the usual 26.2 miles, in what will be the 40th running of the great race.
In the women’s event, Kenyan world record holder Brigid Kosgei is aiming for a third successive win. No Eliud Kipchoge this time around, or Mo Farah, so it’s an open-looking field in the men’s event. Plenty to look forward to, and the latest from the wheelchair events, too, where David Weir returns to the stage for the 22nd time, though Marcel Hug looks a nailed-on favourite.