When race commentator Steve Cram announced “this is not normal” midway through Sunday’s London Marathon it was something of an understatement as Eliud Kipchoge, the most dominant performer the distance has ever seen, was finally looking mortal.
An hour later, Kipchoge trailed home eighth in a time six minutes slower than his own world record and over a minute adrift of Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata, who won the race after a spectacular sprint finish in two hours, 05.41 minutes.
The Kenyan had finally cracked just under three miles from the end, later saying he was suffering from a blocked ear that affected his breathing and cramp in his hip, but refusing to blame the cold, wet conditions for his poor run.
It was no surprise that he looked slightly bemused as he tried to articulate what had happened, having never previously experienced what almost every other marathon runner at every level has a bad day at the office.
His record over the distance almost defies belief. He posted in his Twitter account that one of his ears blocked, and it could not open anymore.
The Ineos Challenge record holder has however promised to fight for the title another day.
“But this is how the sport is, we should accept defeat and focus for the winning next time. Thanks for the support,” Kipchoge said. He added “If you want to enjoy sport then you have to accept the results. I congratulate the top finishers, and that is how to enjoy the sport.”
He has appreciated Kenyans and his fans for the tremendous support, saying that he is taking the defeat in a positive way.
The race was won by Ethiopian Shura Kitata in a thrilling sprint finish to claim an unexpected victory ahead of Kenyan Vincent Kipchumba.