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Peres Jepchirchir makes history with her 2024 London Marathon victory



With three of the four fastest women over 26.2 miles toeing the line at this year’s London Marathon, the speed was never in doubt.

But, for Peres Jepchirchir, her speed saw her clock more than just a PB on Sunday [21 April] – breaking the tape in 2:16:16, the reigning Olympic marathon champion also set a dramatic new women’s-only world record.

Jepchirchir just about gets ahead

A consistently high-performing long distance specialist, Jepchirchir, 30, smashed the previous women’s-only mark of 2:17:01 by a convincing 45 seconds, raising her arms and crying with triumph, exhaustion and disbelief as she did so. On a personal level, she also improved upon her own marathon best by a whole minute and clocked her first win in London and third Abbott World Marathon Majors victory overall, having finished first at the 2021 New York City and 2022 Boston Marathons.

‘It means a lot to me to do this in London,’ said Jepchirchir, shortly after making history. ‘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.

‘I now know I have a great chance to defend my title,’ she continued.

The previous women’s-only record was set by fellow Kenyan Mary Keitany in 2017 at, again, the London Marathon. This world-famous event is a prime venue for the women’s-only record, as the elite women run a separate race to the elite men and masses and have just the help of female pacemakers. Women’s-only world records can be achieved in races where only women compete, hence why Tgist Assefa’s world record of 2:11:53, achieved in the mixed-sex 2023 Berlin Marathon, still stands as a separate mark.

Scramble for success

Talking of Assefa, she was not far behind Jepchirchir at this year’s London Marathon – only seven seconds, in fact. Finishing the course in 2:16:23, Ethiopian Assefa missed first place by only a matter of steps, with Jepchirchir exploding ahead on the home straight after a nail-biting four-way battle between herself, Assefa, Joyciline Jepkosgei and Megertu Alemu for the final 10K of the race.

Kenya’s Jepkosgei powered to third while Ethiopia’s Alemu narrowly missed the podium in fourth, with the first four women all finishing within Keitany’s previous women’s-only mark of 2:17:01.

Mighty marathon debut for Maclennan

Meanwhile, the elite women’s race saw some exciting marathon debutantes take to the stage. Among them was Mhairi Maclennan, the first Brit home in an impressive time of 2:29:15.

‘The race was amazing and awful,’ said Maclennan, an off-road specialist who represented Great Britain at the World Cross Country Championships in 2021. ‘I thought I might get first Brit and hopefully under 2:30, so I’m really happy. I can’t ask for more.’

Brits Charlotte Purdue and Calli Hauger-Thackery were also on pacing duties at this year’s London Marathon, with both now confirmed to run for Team GB in the women’s marathon at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. No British women met the Olympic qualifying mark of 2:26:50 on Sunday, which means that the third and final female spot on Britain’s marathon squad is still up for grabs. Rose Harvey, who soared to a 2:23:21 finish at the 2023 Chicago Marathon, could well be a favourite to fill it.

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