Tsegaye Kebede Wins 2010 Virgin London Marathon in 2:05:19, by Larry Eder

Tsegaye Kebede wins the 2010 Virgin London Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net.

Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia, the fifth of thirteen children, won the 2010 Virgin London Marathon in grand style. Hitting the halfway in 1:03:06, Tsegaye took off with Abel Kirui of Kenya,then broke him with a series of miles 4:38, 4:37, 4:33, and finally ran 2:05:19! There was noting ambivalent about Kebede's race tactics: they were straightforward-run fast, then run faster.  In is wake, Sammy Wanjiru, Duncan Kibet dropped out, and Emmanuel Mutai took second in 2:06:23 with Jaouad Gharib took third in 2:06:55! More details to come later this evening!

Race Directors and Race committees are a hardy lot. Most have put up with cold weather, warm weather, rain, snow, but a volcano? A volcano from Iceland in fact?

The Virgin London Marathon team dealt with a modern version of the biblical Trials of Job over the past two weeks. As the little volcano that could reared its ugly head over the past two weeks, Mr. Bedford and his team sprang into action! Chartering three planes, including a prop plane, the Virgin London staff collected the 53 elite athletes and pacemakers, from all over Europe, and got them to London. The plan was implemented on Tuesday, and by Thursday, many were here. By Friday, Dave Bedford could make a sigh of relief.

Then, there was supposed to be warm weather. But, that sure did not happen. Cool weather and a light rain greeted the male elite racers as they took off at 9.45 AM on Sunday, April 25.

What a field! There was Duncan Kibet and Sammy Wanjiru, the defending champion. Two time World Champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco, Tsegaye Kebede, John Rotich, Emmanuel Mutai, Abel Kirui and Yonas Kifle.

There was former steepler Andrew Lemoncello, who mas makin his debut at the distance. Marlison Gomes dos Santos of Brazil was also in the hunt.

The pacemakers were there to take runners through 2:04 pace and 2:06 pace. The first three miles were 4:46, 4:48, and 4:41, for a 14:38 first five kilometers. The pace was fast, but soon, it settled into one group, all running about a 2:06 pace.

The next five kilometers was run in the light rain, as the 10k was hit in 29:39. The pacemakers ran together, in control. At times, it looked as if Sammy Wanjiru was trying to get the pacemakers to run faster. Wanjiru and Duncan Kibet were nestled inside the protective environment created by the five pace makers.

Gedion Negatuny of Kenya lead the pack. In the pack were Abelo Kirui, Emmanuel Mutai, Sammy Wanjiru, Dunca Kibet, Tsegeye Kebede and Zersney Tadesse of Eritria, as they hit the 15k in 44:51, a 2:06 pace. Andrew Lemocello showed some restraint, and hit 15k in 46:25, after hitting the 10k in 30:29. 

The pace picked up, as Abel Kirui and Tsegaye Kebede began to test the field. Hitting 10 miles in 48:04 (the exact same time as the lead pack in Boston last week!), Kirui and Kebede started to increase the pace, gently testing the lead pack, before turning in the screws a bit. 20 kilometers was passed in 59:23 and the halfway point was hit in 1:03:06!

Tsegaye Kebede, with Abel Kirui next to him began to push the pace. Following them were Abderhammine Bouramadine of Morrocco, two time WC champ Jaouad Gharrib, Zersenay Tadesse of Eritria. Marlison Gomes dos Santos of Brazil, who had dropped back a bit, made a huge surge to stay up with the group. As dos Santos made his catch up, just around the 25 k mark, which was passed in 1;14:19, Duncan Kibet dropped back and Sammy Wanjiru, the defending champ, started to fall back.

Wanjiru would drop out between 25k and 30 k. Perhaps this was his time to learn some respect for the distance, as the Olympic champion, Chicago & London champ had some injury issues this winter. Whatever the case, Sammy Wanjiru, the defending London champ, was out of the race.

Abel Kirui and Tsegaye Kebede were not just trying to run fast, they were trying to crush each other! By the time they hit 30 kilometers in 1;28:46, they were down to a 2:04:50 pace. Abel and Tsegaye were in the middle of an epic battle.

Abel Kirui, 2010 Virgin London Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net.

There was no ambivalence in Kirui or Kebede's tactics, and they were telling: By 30k, Emmanuel Mutai was six seconds back, Bouramadine was 14 seconds back, Gharib was fifteen and Duncan Kibet, the equal second best performer ever (remember 2009 Rotterdan, where he won in 2:04.26.6 to 2:04.26.9?), was 1:40 back. Duncan Kibet would soon drop out, for his second dnf in a row (Berlin 2009 was last marathon appearance and dnf).
Tsegaye Kebede showed he was serious, when, between 19-20 miles, he dropped a 4:28 mile, hitting 20 miles in 1:35:03!  Kebede started to make a slight lead, as Abel Kirui began his return to reality. By 35 k, which Kebede hit in 1:43.30, he had built seven seconds on Kirui, with Mutai in third, 35 seconds back and Gharib 55 seconds back!

Kebede drops a 4:28 mile between 19-20, 2010 Virgin London Marathon,
photo by PhotoRun.net

Tsegaye Kebede did not stop. He was relentless,having just completed the 10k between 25k and 35k in 28:52! Kebede continued to run fast, with miles in the 4:41-4:48 range, as he built up a safetly lead of 56 seconds over second place!

Emmanuel Mutai fights back for third! 2010 Virgin London Marathon,
photo by Photorun.net

Tsegaye Kebede finished the 2010 Virgin London Marathon in 2:05:19! Emmanuel Mutai of Kenya had fought back to second place, running 2:06:23. In third, Jaouad Gharib ran 2:06:55, adding to his aura as a tough marathoner. Abderhammine Bouramdane ran 2:07:33 for fourth, as Abel Kirui ran 2:08:04, the hard way, with some seriously tough miles in the last 5k! Marlison Gomes dos Santos of Brasil took sixth in 2:08:46, as Tzersenay Tadesse of Eritria ran 2:12:04.

Jaouad Gharib takes fourth! 2010 Virgin London Marathon, photo by

In eighth place, running a smart debut, but also running alone from miles 11-26 was Andrew Limoncello, who ran a very smart 2:13:40, and puts himself on the very short list for potential marathon medal at this summers European champs! In ninth place, Yonad Kifle ran 2:14:09 and in tenth place, Andi Jones, also of Great Britain (like numero 8), ran 2:16: 38.

Andrew Lemoncello has a splendid debut! 2010 Virgin London Marathon,
photo by PhotoRun.net.

After the race, as many of the staff, and sponsors sat in the upstair bar at the Tower hotel, a grinning Dave Bedford walked in, to a wall of applause. Dave Bedford, Nick Butell and the team of Virgin London has weathered an Icelandic volcano, and produced a race for the ages, as 35,000  marathoners would attest to, on this fine April day in merry old London!

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For more on the race, please click on www.virginlondonmarathon.com

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