Kenya’s Mary Keitany took 41 seconds off the women’s-only world record* at the Virgin Money London Marathon, running 2:17:01 at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday.
In an incredible display of front-running, the 2009 world half marathon champion set off on her own with just a pacemaker for company in the early stages, passing 5km in 15:31, 10km in 31:17 and half way in 1:06:54. Her pace in the first half suggested a finish time faster than the outright world record of 2:15:25, set by Paula Radcliffe in 2003.
Keitany’s pace started to slip in the second half, but she still maintained enough form to stay on course to break Radcliffe’s women’s-only world record set in 2005.
At 30km, she was 78 seconds ahead of her nearest challenger, three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba. The Ethiopian began to make inroads into Keitany’s lead in the final stages, but then suffered from stomach cramps just a few kilometres from the finish.
Keitany held on to her lead and charged down The Mall to win in 2:17:01, the second-fastest time in history. Once recovered from her stomach cramps, Dibaba finished strongly to take second place in an Ethiopian record of 2:17:56, moving to third on the world all-time list.