2013 Virgin London Marathon: Priscah Jeptoo wins in 2:20:15, by Larry Eder

Priscah Jeptoo, 2013 Virgin London Marathon, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

Priscah Jeptoo has spent the time since last August considering her run in the London Olympics, where she was second. Today, she improved on that performance with a gutty, bone churning run over the last eight miles, in a duel with Edna Kiplagat. Running alone from 22 miles, with a beautiful run for home, with a run in 2:20:15, just a second off her personal best. Here is how the race was won: 

Priscah Jeptoo, en route to her victory, April 21, 2013, Virgin London, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

Priscah Jeptoo took the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships, and the next year, took the silver medal in the London Olympics. Those are facts. Her run today was an example of how to make a long run for home and break the competition. 

In light of the past week, it is somehow settling that Priscah's training partner is Rita Jeptoo, no relation, who just won, last Monday, April 15, the BAA Boston Marathon. Rita had come back from having a baby, and several years of injuries to take the second position at last fall's Bank of America Chicago marathon. Now, Rita and Priscah are winners, in the space of  one week. Training partners won both the BAA Boston and Virgin London Marathons-somehow, that is quite fitting. 

Priscah Jeptoo told the press, afterwards, " I knew this morning that I was going to run well and there was such a good field, you were always worried someone would do better. "

The women went out pretty conservatively, hitting the 5k mark in 16:36. The pack upfront was Edna Kiplagat, the 2011 World Champ,  Tiki Gelana, 2012 London Olympic champ, Florence Kiplagat, Joyce Chepkuiri, Meselech Melkamu, and Priscah Jeptoo, who had been the bridesmaid in 2011 WC and 2012 London Olympics, who were all running relaxed in the cool, windless conditions.  The pace makers were at 16:22 for 5k, as they had been instructed to hit the faster pace.

At 10k, Edna Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo, Tiki Gelana et al. were running fine, albeit a bit slower, hitting the 10k in 34:12. No one really wanted to lead. All the usual suspects were looking good, although the money was on Tiki Gelana. At 10k, Yukiko Akaba was in the front pack, as the Japanese runner had come through 5k in 16:44 and gently moved into the front pack. 

Just before the water stop at 15k, an incident that Yukiko Akaba described as "extremely dangerous" transpired. Tiki Gelana, who looked ready to run today, was involved in a pile up at the water stop, with Josh Cassidy, an elite wheelchair racer, whose chair was damaged in the accident. Gelana got up, and raced back to the lead group, looking strong until just past the half, when she drifted back in the pack, ending in sixteenth place, with a finish time of 2:36:55. 

The pack, which slowed down for the athletes involved in pile up, hitting the 15k in 51:06. Jeptoo, Edna Kiplagat, Meselech Melkamu, Florence Kiplagat, Tiki Gelana were all there. 

Yukiko Akaba of Japan took a small lead through 20k, which she hit in 1:08:13. The pack was chasing, three seconds back. The Kiplagats, Gelana, Melkamu were back in lead by halfway in 1:11:49.

The lead pack, 2013 Virgin London, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

It was between 20km and 25km that Edna Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo, and Florence Kiplagat began to pull away. By 25k, hit in 1:24:17, the trio had nine seconds on Tiki Gelana, who began her painful departure from the top ten, finishing 16th in 2:36.55. 

Edna Kiplagat looked like the winner between 25k and 30k where she lead in 1:40:18, with Priscah Jeptoo holding on, in 1:40:20 and Florence Kiplagat at 1:40:30.  Meselech Melkamu was in fourth in 1:40:51. The pace was telling, as Akaba and Atsede Baysa were the next closest followers, and they were the  at 1:42.09. The pace was relentless, as that 5k segment was run in 16:01! 

Priscah Jeptoo caught up with Edna Kiplagat just after 21 miles and from the 35k put seventeen seconds on Edna Kiplagat, running that segment in 16:09. Jeptoo did not let up, running the final 5k in 16:23, and putting one minutes, 17 seconds on second place.

Priscah Jeptoo won London with a final time of 2:20:15, one second off her personal best. She ran her second half of the race in 1:08.26! Amazing.  " It was not until around 25 miles that I got that confidence back and felt I would win. But again, you still have to run to the line because anyone could beat me."

Edna Kiplagat finished in second in 2:21.32, " On the start line, I felt good today. But as soon as a 5k the pace did not pick up. I am disappointed not to win, but I was in myself comfortable and thoroughly enjoyed the race once again."

Yukiko Akaba of Japan was the surprise third placer, running 2:24:43. " I am very happy. I wanted to run my best time, but I am happy with third." 

35,000 plus marathoners today ran with black ribbons, in honor and remembrance of their fellow runners, fans and families in Boston. 

Priscah Jeptoo said it best, " I am sad for Boston." 

2013 Virgin London Marathon, 1. Priscah Jeptoo, KEN, 2:20.15, 2.Edna Kiplagat, KEN, 2:21.32, 3.Yukiko Akaba, JAPAN, 2:24.43, 4.Atsede Baysa, ETH, 2:25.14, 5.Meselech Melkemu, ETH, 2:25.46, 6.Florence Kiplagat, KEN, 2:27.05, 7. Mai Ito, JAPAN, 2:28:37, 8. Biktimirova, Alevtina, RUS, 2:30.02, 9.Susan Partridge, GBR, 2:30:46, 10. Irvette Van Zyl, RSA, 2:31.44, #vlm2013

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