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London Marathon: Peres Jepchirchir breaks women’s only world record



Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya shattered the women’s only marathon world record by winning the London Marathon in 2 hours, 16 minutes, 16 seconds on Sunday.

In the men’s race, Kenyan Alexander Mutiso gapped 41-year-old Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele in the last three miles to win by 14 seconds in 2:04:01 for his first major marathon title.

Jepchirchir, 30, lowered the women’s only record of 2:17:01 set by countrywoman Mary Keitany at the 2017 London Marathon.

The 13 fastest overall women’s marathon times in history — led by Ethiopian Tigst Assefa’s world record 2:11:53 from last September — were all from races where either the male and female competitors overlapped or men were among pacers for the women.


In London, the elite women started 35 minutes before the elite men.

Assefa finished second on Sunday, seven seconds behind Jepchirchir, followed by Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei one second later.

In an eight-month span in 2021 and 2022, Jepchirchir became the only person to win the Olympic, Boston and New York City marathons in a career.

She then withdrew before the New York City Marathon due to injury in 2022 and 2023, while finishing third in the April 2023 London Marathon in between.

Her win Sunday boosts her chances to make Kenya’s three-woman team for the Paris Olympics and bid to become the first woman to repeat as Olympic marathon gold medalist.

“As I crossed the finish line, I thought about how grateful I am for this to be my last event representing Kenya before I head to Paris,” Jepchirchir said, according to London Marathon organizers. “I now know I have a great chance to defend my title in Paris.”

Hellen Obiri, the reigning New York City and Boston Marathon winner, is the only other Kenyan woman to win one of the six annual World Marathon Majors over the last year.

Bekele, the third-fastest marathoner in history from his last win in 2019 in Berlin (2:01:41), could be in contention for the Ethiopian Olympic team.

“I am happy, but a bit disappointed,” he said, citing lower back pain, according to organizers. “I put in what I expected at 41. I was a bit injured. I think I have two to three more years of marathons.”

Bekele won eight Olympic or world titles between the 5000m and 10,000m from 2003 to 2009, plus broke both world records in those track events. His last Olympics were in 2012, then he moved up to the marathon in 2014 and was not on the Olympic team in Rio or Tokyo.

Bekele can become the oldest Ethiopian to compete in an Olympics in any sport, according to the OlyMADMen.

Others in contention for the three-man Ethiopian team for Paris include Sisay Lemma, who won the Boston Marathon last Monday, and Tamirat Tola, who won last November’s New York City Marathon.

Tola was in Sunday’s race and among the leaders at 18 miles before dropping out.

The next major marathon is the Paris Olympic marathon on the last two days of the Games — Aug. 10 for the men and Aug. 11 for the women.

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