Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia won the London Marathon for the first time to end Kenya’s six-year winning streak Sunday, while Liliya Shobukhova led a 1-2 Russian finish in the women’s race.
Kebede improved on last year’s second-place finish, completing the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 19 seconds despite being bothered by the wet conditions.
“The rain wasn’t very nice — it made my pace a little slow and because of that I had a few problems in my legs,” Kebede said. “I was second last year so it is good to win this year. Maybe next year, without the rain, I could run 2:04.”
The Olympic bronze medalist finished more than a minute ahead of Emmanuel Mutai of Kenya, while Jaouad Gharib of Morocco was third.
“At around 25k I felt Kebede pulled away and I would not get him back,” Mutai said.
Defending London and Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru dropped out after 15½ miles. He had feared his performance would suffer after enduring a two-day journey from Nairobi, Kenya, via Eritrea, Djibouti, Egypt and Spain due to the air travel restrictions caused by volcanic ash from the eruption in Iceland.
“Traveling here was very hard and maybe that affected my knee — I wasn’t comfortable sitting on the plane all that time,” said Wanjiru, who holds the course record. “When I started there was no pain and I felt in good shape.
“I was confident about winning but you can’t predict the body. I started to feel pain about 20 kilometers and it became very serious.”
Shobukhova made it two marathon victories out of three by becoming the first Russian woman to prevail in London, winning in 2:22:00 to hold off compatriot Inga Abitova.
After leading for much of the race, Shobukhova broke away with about 1.25 miles to go to add to her victory in Chicago in October and improve on her third-place finish in London last year on her marathon debut. Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia was third.
“The rain was no problem — it was in and out which made it almost perfect conditions,” Shobukhova said through an interpreter. “The pace was easy, but I decided to push in the second half to break up the pack.”
Irina Mikitenko of Germany had been chasing a third straight win, but pulled out just before the halfway stage.
“I felt a muscle problem in my lower shin muscle after 5 kilometers,” Mikitenko said. “The slippery roads made it worse and I first stopped running after 15 kilometers before pulling out.”