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Race Report: The 40th London Marathon

BY: Mary Johnson
05 October 2020

The 40th London Marathon took place on Sunday, 4th October, 2020. COVID-19 restrictions altered the event to an elite-only race in St James’s Park, London, with thousands of others participating in a virtual event from 109 countries all over the world. 

Leading up to the race, all eyes were on reigning champion Eliud Kipchoge, as he attempted not only to retain his title but potentially break his own world record or even break the two-hour barrier in a recognised race.

Kipchoge’s fiercest competition was thought to be Ethiopian, Kenenisa Bekele. However just two days before the event, Bekele withdrew due to a calf injury.

The women’s field was led by Brigid Kosgei and Ruth Chepngetich as they attempted to break Paula Radcliffe’s long standing London Marathon record time of 2:15:25. 

Those taking part in the virtual event could walk, run or jog the 26.2 mile distance anytime between 00:00 and 23:59 on Sunday, logging their efforts on the London Marathon’s official app. Runners from all over the world donned their race bibs and pounded the pavements of their chosen routes whilst the elite runners completed circuits of St James’s Park in London.

Women’s Elite Race

The women’s elite race was the first to start on the cold, rainy morning. Kosgei and Chepngetich battled it out until 30k when Kosgei broke away, leaving Chepngetich unable to catch her. Further back in the race was American, Sara Hall, who was slowly gaining momentum. 

Kosgei’s lead was dominant and she crossed the finish line in 2:18:58. But the battle for second place had only just begun. Soon after Sara Hall passed the 40k mark she was in third place and 40 seconds behind Chepngetich. At the last minute, Hall gave everything to sprint past the Kenyan to claim not only 2nd place but also a PB, finishing in 2:22:01. At the age of 37, Hall is the first American to gain a podium place at London in 14 years.

Sara Hall (USA) celebrates having crossed the line to take second place from Ruth Chepngetich (KEN). The historic elite-only Virgin Money London Marathon taking place on a closed-loop circuit around St James’s Park in central London on Sunday 4 October 2020. Photo: Joe Toth for Virgin Money London Marathon For further information: media@londonmarathonevents.co.uk

Men’s Elite Race

The men’s elite race began at 10:10am and Kipchoge looked comfortable in the lead group. Everyone watching believed Kipchoge’s victory was in the bag, especially with Bekele pulling out of the race on Friday. However, a fifth consecutive victory wasn’t meant to be for Kipchoge as, with two laps remaining, he fell behind. 

Ethiopian runner, Shura Kitata seized the opportunity and passed Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba to claim the victory in 2:05:41. Kipchoge finished 8th and cited hip pain and a blocked ear as potentially contributing to the loss. 

Vincent Kipchumba (KEN), Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) and Mosinet Geremew (ETH) during the Elite Men’s RaceThe historic elite-only Virgin Money London Marathon taking place on a closed-loop circuit around St James’s Park in central London on Sunday 4 October 2020. Photo: Thomas Lovelock for Virgin Money London Marathon For further information: media@londonmarathonevents.co.uk

Virtual Race For The Masses

Meanwhile, thousands of ordinary people were battling the wind and rain to complete their own marathons, including many of The Running Channel’s followers. The running community came together to support participants – cheering runners on the streets, tracks and trails. 

We were so thrilled to see your posts and stories on Sunday, as well as quite a lot of PBs! It was incredibly inspiring to see that despite not being able to participate in the mass race, spirits of the runners hadn’t been dampened – the thrill of the marathon cannot be doused.

With a historic 40th race now completed, the ballot for the 2021 has opened. Many, inspired by Sunday’s event, will now be hoping for the chance to participate in the race next year.

Did you take part in the virtual London Marathon? Or have you been inspired to tackle the 26.2 mile distance next? Check out our video on how to train smart and hit your target marathon time.


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