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Tokyo Course Records Broken, But Not By Kipchoge and Hassan

BY: James Dunn
03 March 2024

Tokyo Marathon saw the men’s and women’s course records broken in a day that didn’t go to plan for clear favourites going into the race; Eliud Kipchoge and Sifan Hassan.

“Not every day can be Christmas Day”

There was a major upset in the men’s race, with Benson Kipruto winning ahead of an all-Kenyan podium which did not feature pre-race favourite Eliud Kipchoge. The Boston and Chicago Marathon winner, Kipruto, stayed strong throughout the race to finish in a course record time of 2:02:16.

Kipruto set his personal best during a race that was run for much of it at world record pace (set by the late Kelvin Kiptum) laying down the gauntlet ahead of the Paris Marathon in a few months.

Eliud Kipchoge came into Sunday’s race the media and fans’ clear favourite with a winning record in Tokyo, taking gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (which was actually run in 2021), then setting a course record of 2:02:40 while coming first at the 2021 Tokyo Marathon (which was actually run in 2022 – just for clarity, the 2024 Tokyo Marathon did take place in 2024!).

But at the 2024 Tokyo Marathon the Kenyan runner finished in 10th place in a time of 2:06:50. He began to fade at the 20km mark where he began to lose touch with the leading pack who ran through the halfway mark in a time of 1:00:02 and in the proceeding 5km he slipped over a minute off the pace.

“That’s how it is,” Kipchoge said at the end of the race. “Not every day is Christmas Day”. 

His next marathon is scheduled to be the Paris 2024 Olympic Games marathon on Saturday 10 August, where he’ll be hoping to make it three gold medals in a row, following success in 2016 and 2020 but with 10th place here and sixth place at the Boston Marathon last year, many will be questioning if the gold is still within reach.

Another shock in the women’s race

Sifan Hassan started the race with abut personal best of 2:13:44, which is the second-fastest female marathon of all time, which the Dutch athlete ran in Chicago 2023. However, much like Kipchoge, it wasn’t the day she was hoping for.

The Ethiopian; Sutume Asefa Kebede, claimed the win and the course record in a time of 2:15:55, taking more than two minutes off her PB. “I am so happy, I don’t really have words for it,” said Kebede. “It’s my first victory and I don’t have the words to express how happy I am about that.” 

While Hassan hasn’t yet announced her plans for the Paris 2024 Olympics, there’s some excited anticipation that she’ll attempt the 5,000m-10,000m-marathon triple. But will today’s result change her mind on that?

Photo Credit: Jerry Sun

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