London Marathon

London Marathon 2020

By David Barbash

Here we are 40 edition London Marathons later in  2020 is finally here after the date change and no doubt has a different look with an Elite Field only, a 19.6 lap more confined course and no spectators, all due to Covid-19. 

There will be however an estimated 45,000 runners doing virtual London Marathons today around the globe. We support and applaud your efforts. So many will be new to running a Marathon and there will be some amazing stories in store I sure. As we get some of them we will be sure to share them with you.

I personally fell in Love with The London Marathon over 39 years ago, watching the first one in ’81 when I was 15 years old and 2 years later at 17 I ran 1.11 for the half marathon. I was hooked and remember in a subsequent years lining up against some of the winners of the race like Steve Jones, Douglas Wakihuru, Grete Waitz and Ingrid Christensen, among others.

The Big Question this year will be : Does this year’s race bring about Change like we’ve seen in other sports so far his year or will it be more of the same with dominance by the Favorites in both Men’s and Women’s.

One Thing is for sure 2020 is unpredictable

First up..The Weather. Rainy and Windy Cooler Conditions 48F/9C . Maybe not ideal upfront for Fast times but still providing for fascinating battles on both Mens and Women’s.

On the Men’s Side the last minute Withdrawal by Kenenisa Bekele due to injury erases the duel between 4 Time Champion and WR holder Eliud Kipchoge and the 2nd fastest ever in Bekele.

Despite the injury to Kipchoge, plenty of fire power upfront in Geremew who finished second last year to Kipchoge in 2.02.55 plus another 5 guys with PB’s under 2.05 including Wasihun, Lemma, Kitata, Tola and Kipsurem as well another 2 guys under 2.06 in Kipchumba and Kipruto. Sir Mo Farah is expected to be a pace maker this time around for the British Men’s hopefuls looking to get under the Olympic qualify standard of 2.11.30. 

On the Women’s side the overwhelming favorite is the reigning champ Brigid Kosgei who recently smashed Paula Radcliffes WR running 2.14.04 in Chicago but has some strong challengers in Chepngetich and Cheruiyot both sub 2.19 as well as Jemeli and Asimeraw also sub 2.20. Among the other runners tipped to perform well include Sara Hall of the US who ran 2.22.21 in Berlin.

Brigid Kosgei is wearing the Nike Alpha Fly Next the same shoes Kipchoge chose to wear when he broke the 2hr barrier in Austria last year. How will they hold in the Wet. We shall see.

Up First are the Women

London Marathon 2020
CREDIT: Adam Davy/PA.

and Off we go.

7:15 a.m GMT

Kosgei lined up next to Chepnegetich as it’s raining and quite blustery.

Vivian Kiplagat to do the pacing duties like she did in Chicago for Kosgei.

Its raining and cool and already within the first kilometer there is group of 8 women separating themselves with Sara among two athletes just behind them. Looks like it could be a mental game also with 19.6 loops and plenty of turns.

7:48a.m GMT

33 mins in and a now  pack of 5 women with last min split being a 5.08 and 15 laps to go..They just went through 10k in 32.25 which included a quicker second 5k in 15.59 One surprise that Kiplagat one of the 3 designated pacemakers is off the pace and further back.  
The Second pack further back includes Americans Sara Hall, Molly Seidel and Lindsey Flanagan who all could move up if the pace gets too hot at the front.

10 Miles in now and its the last pacer just ahead Kosgei and Chepnegetich averaging 5.11 per mile pace so far still on pace for 2.16 and its a two woman race at this point as Jemeli had been dropped.

Behind there is solid pack of 10 women including the Americans Hall and Seidel.

11th Mile Kosgei and Chepnegetich with the help of the pacemaker drop a 5.08 mile!! Still under Women’s Only WR pace but given the weather will they pay in the second half?

13th mile and they throw in a 5.17, a bit slower and the pacer go through half way in about 1.08.00 with Kosgei and Chepnegetich about 12 secs back.

14 miles in 5.21 a bit slower but Kosgei and Chepnegetich still together right behind the pacer.

18 miles in and a 5.28 mile with Kosgei trying to surge and break away.

9.00am GMT 


Kosgei passed in 1.45.31 and has a 10 sec lead over Chep.


in and its all Kosgei with Chepnegetich 46 secs back as she ran the last 5k in 16.42 and the last mile in 5.21


Passed in 2.11.41 last mile win 5.25 and only 2 km to go . Kosgei looking really good. 

2.17 back is Chepnegetcih but only 40 secs behind her is Sara Hall from the US. Hall has Chep is her sights but only 2km to make it up. 

42km and the Finish.

Kosgei comes across in 2.18.58 and wins the London Marathon for the second year in a row. 


Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei
Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei winning the elite women’s race (CREDIT: Richard Heathcoate) Virgin London Marathon

Terrific time considering the conditions and may have been faster if not for the mid race faster pace.

 A few mins behind her is a big battle for second as Sara Hall is trying to track down Chep for 2nd Place having been down 40 secsto Chep with only 2k to go .

and she does it.. Wow!

Passing Chep right before the finish. Hall in a PB 2.22.01 vs Chepnegetich the World Champ in 222.06. 

There was your Podium but just behind them were Bekere and Megertu and then in 6th place Molly Seidel of the US in a PB of 2.25.13.

First British Women were Natasha Cockram and Naomi Mitchell with only 4 secs separating them both finishing a little over 2.33 and Stephanie Twell fave among the Brits going in unfortunately DNF’d. Hopefully Next time Steph.


Virgin-London-Marathon-2020-Sara Hall
SARA HALL PASSES CHEPTEGETICH (Credit Virgin London Marathon)

The Women will be a Tough Act to Follow but Next are the Men

Should be a Great Battle

8:10AM GMT.

Off and Running:


Lead Pack of around 12 go thru the Mile in 4.43 and Kipchoge looking relaxed along with the other main pre-race favorites.


 Lead Pack thru in 14.48 equating to low 2.03s and all looking smooth.


 Lead pack still tight and goes thru in 29.45 .


 Still same pack and sail through in 44.31 habit off corse record pace but still early.


 59.37 and no one is going anywhere from this pack.

Half in 1.02.54 and you have the feeling someone in the next few miles needs to start surging.

25K in 1.14.22 and  Kipchoge and Geremew still near the front of the pack of about 10.


1.29.00 with Kipchoge still in mix 2 sec back in the middle of that pack now of 9. but nobody’s made a big move yet. Kipchoge missed his bottle of water at the station. Will that cost him at a

Tola and Kipchumba at the head of the pack but every one looks good so far.


1.44.14 and he pack is still 9 deep with Kipchoge in 4th with the same time

Getting interesting for Kipchoge as  the next mile split is only 5.00 which bunches everyone together .

He normally will through a 4.30 mile in at this point to break open the race. Anyone’s race now.

1.51 in and Kitata breaks it open and there’s a gap between the pack of 5 ( Kitata, Lemma, Kipchumba, Geremew and Wasihun) and Tola, Kipchoge and Kipruto.

Will there be a new winner in this Years race.?


Passed in 1.59.19 and only 2km to go and only 1 second separates the top 5 pack.


A  battle between Kibchumba, Kitata and Lemma comes down to the homestretch right before the Finish!!!

Shura Kitata wins a close one in 2.05.41,  Vincent Kipchumba in 2nd in 2.05.42 and Sissay Lemma in 3rd in 2.05.45.. Now that is a close Race!!  

London Virgin Marathon
Credit Virgin London Marathon

Last years runner up Geremew is 4th in 2.06.04 and back in 8th comes Reigning Champion and WR holder Kipchoge in 2.06.49by far  his slowest in his last 14 races.

British Qualifiers for The Olympic Standard were Jonny Mellor in 2.10.38 and Ben Connor in 2.11.20.

Ethiopian Men were the winners taking 5 of the 6 top positions.

Great Race.

And up next what should be really close races  the Mens’ Wheel Chair and the Womens’s Wheel chair Marathon.

The Men’s Wheel Chair lived u to the Billing as it came down to the wire with Brent Lakatos of Canada edging Brit David Weir.

Only 4 secs departed the top 4 and 7 secs between 1st and 6th. Wow!!

Men's Wheel Chair Racing
Credit: Richard Heathcote

The Women’s Race was fast but not as close as Nikita Den Boer won in a great time of 1.40.07 and a New Dutch National Record over Manuela Schar in 2nd in 1.41.29. They were more than 11 minutes ahead of third.

What a Great way to Wrap the Day up and to all of the Elite Competitors we Congratulate you and applaud you and to the 45,000 out there that did your Virtual Marathons Today you are Inspiring!!

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