Mary Keitany set a new only women’s record at the London Marathon. She had led her intentions known in the press conferences leading up to the marathon and she was not shy of starting with a blistering pace.
The requested pace was 69mins for 23kms. Normally in marathons the requested pace is often not followed, elite athletes opting for tactical running to save energy for the second part of the race. In this occasion, Mary Keitany had her eyes set on the world record and went with the early fast pace with splits of 4:27 and 5:14 for the first miles.
With such a fast 20km, Keitany had split the field with several chase packs. The first chase pack comprising of Florence Kiplagat, Vivian Cheruyiot, Mare Dibaba and Tirunesh Dibaba. At a point Cheuryiot looked to be chasing Keitany as she isolated herself from the chase pack, a move she would later pay for in the closing stages of the race.
At the 30km mark Tirunesh Dibaba had already pulled away from Helen Kiprop for a clear second place and all three leading women were on course to break Paula Radcliffe’s Only Women’s record of 4:17- that is if they could keep up the pace.
In the end, however, it was absolutely incredible running for Mary Keitany who at the 35km mark had a gap of 1min 18 seconds ahead of second placed Ethiopian. For Dibaba, this was proving to be a great show of running excellence in her second marathon outing.
Quick tip: when running a marathon for elite runners, there are 8 stations where they can get their special drinks for energy that are stationed after every 5km. In a cool day with humid conditions you don’t have to get your drink at every station; in a case you drop it or not in a position to get it conveniently. Because the time it takes to digest to the sports drinks could not make such a difference in the race. Also too much water could cause abdominal discomforts. But if it is on a hot day, definitely get your fluids when you can.
In the final miles, Dibaba found herself in a predicament riddled by frantic stitches. She even stopped and one could tell she was in pain. But she pressed on and kept her pace as she was on course for the Ethiopian record of 4:18 set by 2012 Olympic Champion Tiki Gelana. Her only goal was to avoid slowing down to get there.
Mary Keitany hit the 40km at 2:09 and was on course to run under 2:17. She was running brilliantly and confidently and ran her last mile in 4:53, looking strong, she crossed the line in a new women’s world record of 2:17:01 and Dibaba powered through for second in 2:17:58.
The women’s race was without a doubt hotly contested with a really fast half. Mary Keitany was the big winner of the day with a victory and a Women’s Only marathon world record.