Wilson Kipsang wins 2012 Virgin London Marathon, by Larry Eder

Wilson Kipsang, Kenya, February 2012, photo by PhotoRun.net

In a men's field that had no weaknesses, Wilson Kipsang broke the field and went off on a very close chase for the course and world record. His effort, giving him victory and a near course record, puts him in the driver's seat for a position on the Kenyan marathon team. "That is up to the selectors," noted Wilson Kipsang.

Here is how Wilson Kipsang, on April 22, 2012 became King of the marathon world, as he won the 2012 Virgin London Marathon:

Wilson Kipsang, 2011 BMW Frankfurt, photo by PhotoRun.net

That Wilson Kipsang won the 2012 Virgin London marathon should have surprised a few. Wilson is a talented runner who ran 2:04.47 in 2010 and 2:03.42 in 2011, both at the BMW Frankfurt Marathon. But, the truth be told, in this field, anyone of about two dozen male runners had a chance at medalling and a dozen had a chance at winning.

Kipsang_Wilson1c-Kenya12.jpgWilson Kipsang, February 2012 (Kenya), photo by PhotoRun.net

The pace was tough from the start, 14:36 for 5k, and 29:34 for 10k. The early pack was Shadrak Kosgei, Abel Kirui, World Champ, Emmanuel Mutai, second in New York, 2011 Virgin London victor, Martin Lel, second place in 2011, past winner, Virgin London, Patrick Makau, WR holder, Berlin 2011, Vincent Kipruto, second, World Champs 2011, Tsegaye Kebede, fifth in 2011 Virgin London, 2010 winner, Virgin London. Add to that Wilson Kipsang, Jaouad Gahrib and Adil Annani and you have a field! Around 10k, Wilson Kipsang was trying to encourage the pacemakers to run faster, as Patrick Makau also did.

The Boston marathon had hurt chances of Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai, winner at 2011 Boston and 2011 New York, who had dropped out, after getting sick on warm sports drinks at 30k, and Gebre Gebremariam, of Ethiopia, who had run a sub par race. Rotterman had Moses Mosop taking third in the race, in a 2:05.04-now, think a moment, a two hour, five minute marathon and the guy does not make a team (wait, he still might...).

Kipsang_WilsonGroup-Kenya12.jpgWilson Kipsang, training, February 2012, Kenya, photo by PhotoRun.net

When Emmanuel Mutai went to the front at 15k in 44.30, Feyisa Lelisa of Ethiopia, Bazu Worku of Ethiopia, Wilson Kipsang and Abel Kirui were all there. Martin Lel, Tsegaye Kebede and Vincent Kipruto were all together. A fast moving train, with many moving parts, this pack was, well, pretty lethal.

There is a chemistry in an elite pack. In most Virgin London races, Dave Bedford, the architect of the elite fields, puts together a combination of athletes who can run fast, in the middle stages of the race, as well some surprises, to make the race fast and deep. In 2012, the story was, and is, the Kenyan and Ethiopian selections of teams. Both countries are so deep, in fact that the selectors will have a very hard time picking men and women's teams. The tactical nature of 2012 London course, a two loop course with many, many, did I say many, turns, could mean that, in fact, Kenyan and Ethiopian teams, so worn out making their teams, turn in sub par performances in the Olympics, but that, is another story and another day. Such is the natures of both teams that in Kenya, nearly 500 runners have broken 2:15 for the men and in Ethiopia, 2:08.24 was the 22nd best performance. Makes one want to cry.....

Wilson Kipsang is a very elegant runner. Light on his feet, clean form, there is very little wasted motion. Kipsang was pushing the pace between 15 and 20k, running 14:43 for that 5,000 meter split. " I knew when I went away, they have to work very, very hard to beat me, and I was feeling very good myself, " noted Wilson afterwards.

The pack was there, running 59:14--59:15 for 20k. The half marathon was hit in 1:02:12, with Wilson Kipsang, Bazu Worku and Feyisa Lilesa all there. Abel Kirui was three seconds back, as Wilson Kipsang began to push the pace and make some brakes. Tsegaye Kebede and Vincent Kipruto were eight seconds back.

And then, there were three.....

Between 20k and 25k, Feyisa Lilesa, Wilson Kipsang and Abel Kirui ran together, running a 5k split of 14:09, yes, that is 14:09 for 5,000 meters. A 4:36 mile in that segment showed that the top three were serious. Martin Lel lead the next pack, fifteen seconds back. All looked good, by Wilson Kipsang was gently managing the front pack.

Abel Kirui, Feyisa Lilesa and Wilson Kipsang were together at 30k, hit in 1:28.04, with Emmanuel Mutai in 1:29.06, leading the chasing pack. The trio upfront was pushing hard, but cracks were beginning to show.

Wilson Kipsang began to push, between 30 and 35k and put fifteen seconds between himself and Feyisa Lelisa who began to drop back. Abel Kirui, the World Champs, also started to drop. " I was feeling very good," noted Wilson afterwards.

Hitting 35k in 1:42.47, Wilson Kipsang looked amazing, and continued to roll. Running 15:10 for the 5k between 35 and 40k, Kipsang fell off the world record pace, but it had been a hard battle. " I am sorry I did not get the record, but winning is the most important thing for me" added Wilson about his tactics here.

Running strong for the last 2.2 kilometers, Wilson Kipsang won the 2012 Virgin London Marathon, in a fine 2:04.44, giving him three times under 2:05!

The battle for second came down to a sprint, as Martin Lel picked up the pace with 500 meters to go and ran down the diminutive (well, compared to Martin) Tsegaye Kebede, 2:06.51 to 2:06.52.

Andil Annani of Morroco took fourth in 2:07.43 with team mate Jaouad Gharib, two time World Champion, in fifth in 2:07.44. Abel Kirui, the defending World Champ, was sixth in 2:07.56. Emmanuel Mutai, second here in 2011, was seventh today in 2:08.01. Marlison Gomes dos Santos ran 2:08.03 for eighth. Samuel Tsegay took ninth in 2:08.06 and Feyisa Lelisa of Kenya was tenth in 2:08.20.

Looking down from above, hopefully enjoying the race was the late Sammy Wanjiru, defending champion from Beijing. He and the late Chris Brasher, we hope, kept the rain away for most of the day.

Today was Wilson Kipsang's day. " I feel a little tired now, but I am happy and tired." was how Wilson put his spin on his victory.

Martin Lel, second today, noted, " The last few strides I was so pleased to beat him (Tsegaye). When the winner went off, I knew I did not have it in me to go with him. I am very pleased to get the second place today. it shows that my form is getting back to where it was."  Lel's kick was fantastic, I would put him on the Kenyan 4 x 400m relay team!

Tsegaye Kebede, who finished one second back, in third, said, " It was a good race. My preparation was good, and I felt confident. I have had a small stomach problem so I could not beat Martin in the sprint, I am happy with third. "

Wilson Kipsang, photo by Photorun.net

2012 Virgin London Men, Top 10: 1. Wilson Kipsang, Kenya, 2:04.44, 2. Martin Lel, Kenya, 2:06.51, 3.Tsegaye Kebede, Ethiopia, 2:06.52, 4. Adil Annani, Morocco, 2:07.43, 5.Jaouad Gharib, Morocco, 2:07.44, 6.Abel Kirui, Kenya, 2:07.56, 7. Emmanuel Mutai, Kenya, 2:08.01, 8. Marlison Gomes Dos Santos, Brasil, 2:08.03, 9.Samuel Tsegay, Eritrea, 2:08.06, 10. Feyisa Lilesa, Ethiopia, 2:08.20, #londonmarathon

Watch for more coverage tomorrow!

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