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London Marathon: Jepchirchir breaks women’s world record, Munyao beats Bekele in men’s race – as it happened

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That concludes our coverage of the 2024 London Marathon. There are still runners taking part but some of them won’t cross the finish line until around 7pm this evening.

What we do know though is the winners of the elite races.

Wheelchair women: Catherine Debrunner (Switzerland) 1:38:54

Wheelchair men: Marcel Hug (Switzerland) 1:28:35

Women: Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya) 2:16:16

Men: Alexander Munyao (Kenya) 2:04:01

Emile Cairess finishes third at to book Olympic spot

Peres Jepchirchir beats women’s-only world record

Thank you for joining me. See you next time!

There are 79 world records that are being attempted to be broken at the London Marathon.

As you already know, Peres Jepchirchir beat the women’s-only world record to win the London Marathon.

But here are some others, courtesy of Guinness World Records.

David Weir gives his thoughts on his performance and his new wheels:

It was a tough race today. I wanted to compete with Daniel [Romanchuk] and Marcel [Hug]. I done well in Boston last week; I got a PB so I had the confidence. I got a new chair, similar to Marcel’s. I just gave it my all today. I got to about 20 miles with Marcel. Last year I only lasted about three miles with him. I am 45 years old in a couple of months so I am really happy with my performance to get third today.

The chair is a full carbon chair. And it has made a massive difference. It goes over bumps well. It is aero dynamic. With the wind today, it cuts through it so easily. But you still have to train and master it and get used to it.

David Weir placed third after his 25th consecutive London Marathon. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty Images
Sid Keyte dressed as a telephone box in support of Muscular Dystrophy UK. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters
London, you beautiful city. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters
Anthony Joshua takes some selfies with fans before the race. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

I’ve got some emails from runners and spectators who have shared their anecdotes of why and how they are participating today.

Harry says he is a born and raised Londoner who has been running the marathon for the past three years. He chooses a new cause every year and this year, he has chosen Versus Arthritis: “Seeing how arthritis impacts people first-hand inspired me to raise awareness.”

Jake has travelled from New York and says: “I heard London was tougher than the race in NYC. I had to see if that really was the case for myself. I am currently taking a break at Tower Bridge and I never have had to take a break in the Big Apple so there is your answer.”

Mia says she is supporting a team that is running to for the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to make sure that “no animal in need is turned away”.

Halima just finished the race with a personal best. “I blasted some of my least favourite music in my ears. It made me run faster because I just wanted to get my headphones out of my ears. I tortured myself to success.”

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The winners of the elite women’s and men’s wheelchair race, Debrunner and Hug, have spoken together after their victories.

Debrunner on the winning alongside her countrymate and the conditions:

I am really happy about the win and that we could do it together. It’s even better. It was really tough. The wind was [constant]. It was a race against the wind.

Hug on the difficulty of breaking away from his competition:

It was a really amazing race but I also have to say it was a tough race. Maybe one of the toughest [for me] in a long time. The conditions were tough with a lot of wind. I had to try many many times to break away, many attacks, and then finally it happened. I am so happy to win here.

Catherine Debrunner and Marcel Hug of Switzerland pose with their medals. Photograph: David Cliff/AP

The London Marathon’s Charity of the Year is Samaritans, who support anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope or at risk of suicide. Among those taking part for Team Samaritans is Dave Lock, 62, who is also known as ‘the Running Telephone’.

Lock is currently racing his 25th London Marathon for Samaritans. He contacted the charity himself when experiencing suicidal thoughts and has worked as a listening volunteer.

Running for Samaritans is both a privilege and a pleasure. It is easier to run 26.2 miles than to take a call as a Samaritan volunteer. I am as passionate about Samaritans’ mission today as I was when I crossed the start line for my first London Marathon in 1999.

I called Samaritans a few times but eventually I pulled myself out of it. What it did teach me, is that simply talking can help you to find a way out. It doesn’t matter where you are there is someone to listen to you. That’s why I am always on that start line as a telephone.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

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The non-elite runners are continuing the race across London. They may not be professionals but the 50,000 some people are all elite in their dedication and their charities and causes.

Runners cross Tower Bridge. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA
Ben Kellett who is raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Trust (MS Trust) carries his bike as he crosses Tower Bridge in the hope of breaking a Guinness World Record for the ‘fastest marathon carrying a bicycle’. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA
A minion makes its way across Tower Bridge. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA
Gareth Davies dressed as Spider-Man poses during the marathon. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters
A dinosaur storms across Tower Bridge. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

And Peres Jepchirchir also speaks after her historic win.

I am feeling grateful and so happy for today’s victory. I was not expecting to beat the world record. I knew we would beat it but I was not expecting it to be me.

I am happy to be going to the Olympics. My prayer was to be there and my prayer there is to defend my title. I know it is not going to be easy but I will try my best.

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Cairess says he is “really proud” of finishing third in the elite men’s race.

On what the finish means for the Olympics:

It pretty much means I am selected. I am in the team. I think the selection team is tomorrow but I will definitely be there.

On deciding to race this weekend:

It was a risk but it paid off. I don’t think I had the fitness to break [Mo Farah’s] record. In the months of preparation, I had a really stressful couple of months. My cousin was in a car crash. It was a really tough time and he’s come through it. This was for him today. I was emotional this morning. I am so proud to do this for him today. It’s not all about the time and the performance.

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The winners of the day …

Marcel Hug reacts after crossing the finish line. Photograph: David Cliff/AP
Catherine Debrunner finishes first in women’s wheelchair race. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/EPA
Peres Jepchirchir breaks the women’s-only world record. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/EPA
Alexander Munyao crosses the finish line to win the elite men’s race. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/EPA
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Cairess finishes ahead of Mahamed to take the final podium spot in the elite men’s race. The two have now raced the second and third fastest times by Britons.

I don’t think Cairess knew that he was fighting for third until he finished the race so that must have been a nice surprise for him at the end.

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Alexander Munyao wins the elite men’s race

A massive effort from the Kenyan in the end there to break away from Bekele, who comes in second. The winner finishes with a time of 2:04:01.

Alexander Munyao wins the men’s elite race! Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
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Two Britons are fighting hard for that third spot on the podium in the elite men’s race. Cairess is just ahead of Mahamed and the two will almost certainly be fast enough to qualify for the Olympics.

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Mhairi Maclennan finishes with a time of 2:29:13 in her first marathon and becomes the first British women to finish the race.

Mhairi Maclennan competes in her first marathon. Photograph: Paul Harding/Getty Images

Munyao now sprints ahead in the elite men’s race. Bekele keeps checking behind him and he seems unfocused on trying to catch up to the 24-year-old.

Lots of talk from the commentators on the colours of the runners fits today. What’s the difference between blue, turquoise, mint and cobalt? What about peach, salmon and apricot? Who knows?

What I do know is that the colour commentary will continue during the 2024 Olympics. We have all the latest on what threads the athletes will be rocking in Paris come this summer.

Assefa and Jepkosgei finished in second and third respectively in the elite women’s race behind Jepchirchir.

We are down to two in the elite men’s race. Bekele, who almost audaciously waves to the crowd, is just ahead with Munyao in second.

It is also a race for third with a crucial Olympics spot up for grabs. It is between Mahamed Mahamed and Cairess.

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Peres Jepchirchir wins the elite women’s race

What an ending to that race! The Kenyan breaks the women’s-only world record. That is the fastest marathon she has ever run at 2:16:16 and she now heads to Paris as a favourite to defend her title. She is in tears after crossing the finishing line.

In the history books. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
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The Olympic champion, who was keen to run well in London to make Paris, Jepchirchir breaks away about 400m away!

Tola is gone in the elite men’s race. Bekele keeps looking back as he leads the now pack of three.

The elite women race still has the four women running as a pack as they pass Big Ben. Are we going to see a sprint race in the last bit of the race at Buckingham Palace?

Bekele is now leading the men’s race. The 41-year-old is a long distance legend but has never won the London Marathon.

About 4.5km to go in the elite women’s race. Still between Assefa, Jepkosgei, Jepchirchir and Alemu. They are at Embankment approaching Blackfriars.

Cairess is away from the pack but he is still under the Olympic qualification time and still has a pacemaker next to him to keep him on track.

It is still unseen as to whether he will break Farah’s record but the main goal in mind was Paris. This is only his second marathon.

Mengesha is leading in the elite men’s race with Tola right behind him. But the pack is still largely together. Who is going to be the first to break away.

Only four remain in the elite women’s race: Assefa, Megertu, Jepkosgei and Jepchirchir. The predicted finish right now is 2:14:56.

Weir, who came third in the elite men’s wheelchair race, has given his assessment on his race:

It was tough, conditions were so tough, it was really windy. I’m happy with my performance. I kept up with Marcel [Hug] to 20 miles, so can’t complain. I promised I’d get back on the podium and I did. Daniel [Romanchuk] is 20 years younger than me, when these guys surge, it’s hell. Can you name another athlete who has done as many marathons as me? Email me if you can.

On if he will be competing at the Paralympics in the summer:

I’m going to take some time off, then I’ll make a decision for Paris. Or British Athletics will make that decision for me.

Catherine Debrunner celebrates after winning the elite women’s wheelchair race along with second placed Switzerland’s Manuela Schar and third placed Tatyana McFadden. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters
A tribute to the former Kenyan marathon world record-holder Kelvin Kiptum is shown in the media room. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
Masses of runners leaving the start of the London Marathon including a racer in support of Samaritans. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA
Costumes on display as the racers begin the run. Photograph: Loredana Sangiuliano/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock
Well that is one way to shield yourself from the wind. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

The elite men’s race has almost hit the halfway mark. Tola is up front and no one has yet to drop off.

Cairess has lost one of his pacemakers as he tries to break Mo Farah’s British record of 2:511.

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The top three in the elite women wheelchair race is confirmed. Schär makes podium in second ahead of third place Tatyana McFadden.

Kosgei is dropping off a bit in the elite women’s race. She is almost 50m behind the rest of the pack. Assefa is expectedly leading.

Catherine Debrunner wins the elite women’s wheelchair race

Debrunner is around five minutes ahead of Manuela Schär as she crosses the finish line. A hugely dominant victory as she finishes with a time of 1:38:52. We’ll get confirmation of who else makes the podium soon.

And that is confirmation of the double victory for the Swiss in the wheelchair races.

Switzerland’s Catherine Debrunner crosses the finish line to win the women’s wheelchair race! Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
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Marcel Hug wins the elite men’s wheelchair race

Hug is the champion of London for the fifth time! He’s all alone with Buckingham Palace behind him as he passes the finish line with a time of 1:28:33.

Romanchuk comes in second and Weir comes in third, with huge cheers from the crowd for the Briton.

Marcel Hug crosses the line to win the Men’s elite wheelchair race! Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
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The elite women’s race is well on schedule for the women’s-only world record. According to the BBC, they current runners are running at a pace to finish three minutes faster. Assefa and Kosgei are neck-in-neck. Which one of them will take the plunge once the pacemakers drop out?

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There is 45 second gap between Hug and Weir now. It is now definitely a race for second place between Weir and Romanchuk.

The wind is certainly having a factor on the elite women’s race as they head towards Tower Bridge now.

The pace that they are going at right now is one that only Assefa is comfortable running in. Let’s see if her competitors can keep up.

In the elite men’s wheelchair race, Hug has opened the gap ahead of Weir and Romanchuk. Hug accelerated away a bit earlier and Weir was unable to keep up the pace.

In the elite women’s race, Debrunner is around four minutes clear and, at the moment, looks on course to win. She has been on her own since the first few miles.

We might be looking at two Swiss winners in both of these races.

Competitors in the men’s wheelchair race cross Tower Bridge. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA
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Lots of world records looking to be broken today, and not just in the elite races. We’ve seen runners looking to break the world record of a marathon completed in traditional Indian dress, the world record of a marathon completed as a live DJ and the world record of someone dressed in an inflatable shark costume.

One of the runners in the elite men’s race is Emile Cairess who eventually wants to break Mo Farah’s British record of 2:05:11, lower his personal best to 2:03 and win an Olympic medal.

I definitely want to break Mo’s British record. I want to run as fast as possible and I feel like I can run a lot quicker than that in the future.

An Olympic medal is also my goal – definitely for Los Angeles. Although for this Olympics, if I can qualify, then I would like to be competitive. I wouldn’t be going there just to make up the numbers.

I’ve definitely progressed a lot. My workouts, mileage, anything you can quantify, is better than before.

The men’s racers are on the start line. Tamirat Tola is the favourite but the 41-year-old Kenenisa Bekele will be competitive as well. Off they go and huge cheers ring out as the last race gets under way. Behind them: the rest of the 50,000 starters. These are record numbers at the London Marathon.

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The tribute for Kiptum, an athlete whose memory will live on, has begun ahead of the elite men’s race. A very poignant moment in London.

Tigst Assefa, looking to accomplish a world record, lines up alongside Joyce Chepkirui, Brigid Kosgei, Becky Briggs and Mhairi Maclennan as the elite women’s elite race gets under way. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA
David Weir is aiming for a ninth win at the London Marathon. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA
A competitor dressed as a fire engine before the race. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA
Competitors rocking the brightest of materials before the race. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA
Spectators wave Palestinian flags before the London Marathon. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

The final elite race is set to start in about 15 minutes. There will be a 30-second applause before the race in memory of last year’s winner Kelvin Kiptum.

The 24-year-old marathon world record-holder died in February along with his coach Gervais Hakizimana from severe injuries after a car accident.

As of this year, Kiptum has run three of the seven fastest marathons in history and was ranked first among the world’s men’s marathon runners at the time of his death.

And in the men’s race, Hug and Romanchuk are neck-in-neck at the front of the pack as they approach the 14km mark.

The two are actually chatting with each other as the make a turn. Encouraging one another on? A bit of trash talk? Who knows?

Catherine Debrunner has broken free of Manuela Schär and has now passed some of the backmarkers in the men’s wheelchair race.

This is Debrunner’s first Majors appearance this season. She has set new course records at the 2022 Berlin Marathon, breaking five-time winner Schär’s streak of five Berlin wins, and the 2023 Chicago Marathon.

And the women’s elite racers are lined up on the start line. It seems the temperature has plummeted a bit in London as all of them are attempting to warm up their hands and arms.

A good crowd cheers them on as the announcer introduces what many believe is the greatest field assembled at the London Marathon. And they are off!

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We’re just over 11 minutes into the elite wheelchair race and the American Daniel Romanchuk is in the lead. Hug and Weir are right behind him in second and third respectively.

Romanchuk was the first American to win the men’s wheelchair division of the New York City Marathon back in 2018 and won the event in London in 2019.

Daniel Romanchuk (left) and David Weir (centre) early on in the elite men’s wheelchair race at the London Marathon. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA
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The wheelchair race marks a significant win in disability sport as the London Marathon has become the first marathon in the world to make its prize money for wheelchair athletes the same as the other elite races.

So, all winners in the elite races today will receive £44,000 with the runner-up getting £24,000 and third-place £18,000.

The wheelchair athletes have made their way to the start line and are off in the first elite race of the day.

Russell ‘Hardest Geezer’ Cook was just interviewed on the BBC’s pre-race coverage. Cook ran 9,941 miles from one tip of Africa to the other in under a year and an average of over 28 miles a day.

He began running on 22 April 2023 in South Africa’s most southerly point. During his 352 days of running, Cook raised more than £650,000 for charities.

“I can really only sum it up by saying it was carnage from start to finish,” said Cook on his milestone in Africa. “I think we’re going to find out how badly damaged the body is today. This is my first long run since I’ve been back in the UK.”

Russ Cook arrives at Cape Angela in Tunisia, thus completing his Project Africa. Photograph: Hasan Mrad/IMAGESLIVE/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Cook also shared that he had 93 hours worth of music that he lent on during his incredible journey. When asked what song he never wants to hear again, he said: “Maybe Toto. It is a good tune but when you hear it one to many times it’s just like …” Fair enough.

Cook might be over this song, but we never will be.
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In the first elite race of the day, the British wheelchair racing legend David Weir will be racing in his 25th consecutive London Marathon this year.

Weir is the most decorated athlete in the event’s history with eight wins. He will be racing with a new chair which he has broken personal bests and may give him the push he needs for a possible ninth victory in London.

“It’s basically a Formula One chair because it’s made by Sauber (which has a Formula One team under the name Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber), it feels amazing to push,” Weir said.

Weir will be facing the undisputed No 1 wheelchair racer, Marcel Hug. The Switzerland native was the first man to win all six Abbott World Marathon Majors (Tokyo, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, New York and London) in a single season last year and will be aiming for a fourth straight win in London.

David Weir and Marcel Hug pose for pictures in front at Horse Guards Parade. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/AFP/Getty Images
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Hugh Brasher, the London Marathon race director believes the women’s race may be a tougher race than the Olympics.

No race in the history of our sport has ever had that,” says Brasher. “I have no idea who’s going to win but it’s going to be an incredibly competitive event. This will be a harder marathon to win than the Olympic marathon in Paris, I’m pretty certain of that.

Here is Sean Ingle with more.

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So about that record. Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa has set her sights on further lowering her women’s marathon world record to under two hours 10 minutes – but admits her only goal in today is to win.

Assefa ran 2hr 11min 53sec in Berlin last September – a time that obliterated the previous mark of 2:14:04 set by Brigid Kosgei in 2019.

But when asked whether she was chasing a fast time in London, Assefa was more circumspect. “My goal is to win,” she replied. The sense is that Assefa will not go at full throttle today given that she also has the Olympic marathon in Paris in under four months’ time, she is still the overwhelming favourite.

Tigist Assefa beats the women’s world record with a time of 2 hours, 11 minutes and 53 seconds during the 2023 Berlin Marathon. Photograph: Luciano Lima/Getty Images

Assefa will be racing against the former record holder Kosgei, fellow cou Ruth Chepngetich, the Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir and the 2022 London Marathon winner Yalemzerf Yehualaw.

In the men’s race, Tamirat Tola will be keen to match his efforts at the New York City Marathon from November which he won. He came in third in this race last year. His competitors include Mosinet Geremew, who ran the third-fastest time in history at the 2019 London Marathon and Kenenisa Bekele, whose seemingly endless accolades include three Olympic gold medals.

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Preamble

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the 2024 London Marathon. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and I am ready to take you along with me as I race on 26.2 miles (42.195 km) across the capital.

Just kidding. The most I have ever run in one go was a 5km race when I was about 12 years old. And that is only because I had to for school.

Luckily, you and I can witness a record crowd take on today’s race with an expected turn out of over 50,000 people. You will barely even miss the fact that I won’t be taking part.

And of course there are the elite races. There are is a world record in sight and a few of Britain’s own looking to make their mark.

9.05am: Elite wheelchair men’s and women’s races (all times in BST)

9.25am: Elite women’s race

10am: Elite men’s race and mass start

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