Ethiopian Kitata snatched victory in London Marathon 2020

The men’s elite top three with Shura Kitata improving on his fourth from last year CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

World record holder Eliud Kipchoge was beaten in the London Marathon as Shura Kitata won a thrilling sprint finish to claim an unexpected victory.

Four-time winner Kipchoge was the favourite, 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.

Brigid Kosgei, who holds the women’s world record, defended her title.

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.

Great Britain’s David Weir was denied a ninth London Marathon wheelchair title as Canada’s Brent Lakatos emerged victorious in the men’s race, while Manuela Shar suffered a shock defeat to Nikita den Boer in the women’s.

‘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.

Ben Bloom tweet

The athletics press pack react to Kipchoge’s defeat

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.”

Britain’s Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track who was working as a pacemaker, said he was surprised by the result.

“It was a shock for all of us. We had expected him to win by miles, considering what times he has run,” Farah told the BBC.

“But it was a good field. It’s part of racing, it’s part of sport, it happens.”

Kosgei claims dominant win

Kosgei, 26, went clear of world champion Ruth Chepngetich after mile 18 and finished in 2:18.58, three minutes and three seconds ahead of American Sara Hall.

She was almost five minutes outside her world record set in Chicago last year.

“The weather was not good, so we struggled,” Kosgei, who earned $30,000 (£23,200) in prize money with her win, told BBC Sport. “I struggled up to the moment I finished.

“We have not prepared well due to the pandemic. I will be prepared for good results next year.”

Slow times in the capital
Men Women
World record 2:01:39 2:14:04
Winner’s PB 2:04.49 2:14:04
Winner’s time 2:05:41 2:18.58

The London Marathon, rescheduled from its traditional April date because of the coronavirus pandemic, took place for elite runners only over 19 laps around St James’s Park.

The usual mass participation event happened virtually because of covid-19 restrictions, while there were no spectators cheering on the elite runners.

Farah sets pace for Britons

Given a stellar lead-out by Farah, marathon debutant Ben Connor slowed on the home straight, but managed to cross the line 10 seconds inside the Olympic qualifying time.

Jonny Mellor, who had achieved the marker before, claimed the British title as he finished in 2:10.38.

In the women’s race, Steph Twell, who reached world finals and won a European medal on the track, missed out on the Olympic qualifying time of 2:29:30.


  1. All right brother! What a welcome surprise to be awakened with such good news.

    Let 2013 / 2020 be the start of something wonderful, where every Ethiopian targets #1 in everything we do. Our motto where we commit ourselves to “Do Something Wonderful.” Yichalal!

  2. What a finish that was!!!! O my goodness!!!! What propelled this countryman hero must have been something that exploded in him in the last 100 meters. It must have been the voices of his late heroic uncles Bikila, Wolde and Yifter the Shifter thundering on his ears!!! He was just a human missile, man!!! I tell you what, when I found out that the London Marathon would be aired on NBCSN I went camping in my man cave downstairs with a full coffee pot. The women side was also exciting with our Kenyan sister lounging like a gazelle with so graceful stride from start to finish. She must have picked that up from our women!!! Our women didn’t do that bad either. Congratulations to our American hero Sara who had shifted into a speeding cheetah in the last 100 meters to grab the 2nd place!!! But the men’s side is the one that has me still excited. Kitata was a human guided ballistic missile at the end, man!!!! Our men were that close the wrap it up with one, two and three. They must have decided to share the pie with their Kenyan brother. Just look at how they crossed the finish line. One, three, four, five and…I gave up!!! In my book, there is one more award our son Shura Kitata deserves. He also had broken the 100 meter record!!! That is my locked-in opinion and there is nothing you can do about that!!! I am gonna watch the clip of the last 100 meters again and again until my eyesight goes blurred!!!! I’m good now!!! I’m good for the rest of the year!!!

  3. Now let me tell you something that did not and was not to happen. To absolute and heart wrenching disappoint to some ‘republic’ dreamer lawyers and orphan college ‘professors’ among us, Kitata did not split the ribbon at the finish line with crossed hands like that heroic brother Feyisa did at the Rio Olympics in 2018. Why didn’t you, Kitata? Why not? You Neo-Gobena you!!! I think sore loser bigots are going to carry out a mass suicide à la Heaven’s Gate!!! Someone please call 911 now!!!!

  4. I ain’t done yet!!! Did anyone else see what Shura was having fits to do? He wanted to go for another round!!! He looked as saying forget about the blanket. I am gonna go for another round!!!! He had to be restrained, man!!! I better slow down now!!! This is gonna make me just lose it, go out!!!!!

  5. Did you see the other human missile from the old country, our daughter Letesenbet bint Gidey the other day? Did you notice how she ran the entire track? No, she was not running. Not at all. She was rather floating like her late Uncle Obbo Bikila and bullet-running like her other late uncle Yifter the Shifter!!! Her strides, o my goodness!!! It was like holiday child full of grace!!! I am good until the end of the year after Kitata’s hardware grabbing finish and I am adding two more months on top of that for this one. All Glory to our daughter Letesenbet!!!

    Bigots are now livid after hearing her victory. Former orphans of Sebhat and Debre are now condemning her for wearing the Ethiopian flag and for not wearing the flag of the Tigray region. They are still livid about Kitata for not crossing his hands at the finish line. How about that valet uniform as traditional attire? Are these bigots losing their mind?

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