ANOTHER MARATHON, ANOTHER GOLD MEDAL. Eliud Kipchoge added to his already legendary career with a thoroughly dominating performance in Sapporo.
Following a cautious start the 36-year-old Kenyan hit the front after 25K and broke clear in the 31st K to cruise to a 2:08:38 win. Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands claimed the silver in 2:09:58 in an amazing sprint finish as he waved and willed his Belgian training partner Abdi Bashir (2:10:00) past Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono (2:10:02) and onto the podium.
“The Olympic dream is a special dream,” said the favored Kipchoge. “For every athlete here, it has taken a lifetime of preparation to get to this point. Today I lived my Olympic dream.” For the second time.
The race started with the ever-present 72-degree dew point, but the runners caught a bit of a break with partly cloudy skies. A 15:07 opening 5K was followed by an uphill 15:36 and downhill 15:10 before a leisurely 15:44 as a huge lead pack enjoyed their Olympic experience, complete with fist bumps. The only significant early casualties were ’12 gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich and reigning London champ Tola Shura.
The festive running continued as giddy group of 31 strolled past the half within a handful of ticks of Stephen Mokoka’s 65:13. After completing a 22K loop, the pack set off into 2 laps of a 10K with the first half having a slight downhill grade, dropping 10m, and the second climbing 10 to the finish.
Cautious pacing prevailed over a 15:37 segment as a pack of 28 crossed 25K in 1:17:23 — 2:10:38 pace. Kipchoge picked up the tempo and 2 kilos later when he surged around a corner, the race was on. In his wake the road was full of runners scrambling to respond to the challenge or fading out of sight.
In the 28th kilometer a 10-man chase pack headed by Galen Rupp gathered at his heels — or on his heels — as the leader turned around to express his annoyance. Kipchoge spurted a few meters further ahead to get free of the traffic, and a few minutes later crossed 30K in 1:32:31 (2:10:07 pace) after a 15:07 split.
After taking two gulps of his fluids, Kipchoge exited the refreshment station in high gear and in an instant took a 10m lead that seemed to grow with every stride. After passing the eventual finishline and heading into the final 10K loop his lead had grown to 7 seconds over a 5-man chase group fronted by his countrymen Cherono and Amos Kipruto, Spain’s Ayad Lamdassem, and Somalian expatriates Nageeye and Bashir. Rupp and Suguru Osako run another 50m back.
Rather than out of annoyance, Kipchoge’s attack had a philosophical motivation: “I wanted to create a space, a gap, to show the world that this is a beautiful race. I wanted to test my fitness, I wanted to test how I’m feeling.”
Thus inspired, he was on a tear as he sped on in a marathon stride of ergonomic precision. Be it the ever-steady rhythm of arms and legs or the sharp focus of his eyes, he has perfected the running mechanics that have powered his incredible competitive record.
The ensuing 14:28 5 split documented his mastery of the roads and opened up a 26-second lead that turned the final 7K into a long victory lap.
Cherono continued to front the chase group, but Kipruto had fallen back. Bashir and Lamdassem clung to Cherono’s pace while Nageeye struggled to maintain contact with the trio.
Up ahead Kipchoge raced on almost effortlessly, unfazed by the heat and humidity, and in the 38th kilometer broke out his victory smile. A few minutes later he finished off one of the most dominant runs in Olympic marathon history and repeated his gold-medal win 5 years ago in Rio.
“It means a lot for me, especially at this time,” said the WR holder. “I always say that sport is like life, whereby you can win and lose. But today was a day where I won and get to say I successfully defended my Olympic title.”
As for the silver and bronze tandem of Abdis, Nageeye explained, “Bashir and I, we train together and we have that connection. We are both born in Mogadishu and I am really happy that we both did well here, to inspire people not only in Belgium and the Netherlands but also in where we come from, the Somali people.”
As for the American runners, Rupp did well to hang in the top ten after Kipchoge’s break and finished 8th in the fastest U.S. time of the year, 2:11:44. Jacob Riley (2:16:26) finished 29th, Abdi Abdirahman (2:18:27) 41st.
MEN’S MARATHON RESULTS
(Sapporo, August 08) (temperature 79–82F/26–28C; humidity 80–72%)
1. Eliud Kipchoge (Ken) 2:08:38
(15:19, 15:34 [30:53], 15:11 [46:04], 15:43 [1:01:47], 15:37 [1:17:24], 15:07 [1:32:31], 14:28 [1:46:59], 14:56 [2:01:55], 6:43)
2. Abdi Nageeye (Neth) 2:09:58
3. Bashir Abdi (Bel) 2:10:00
4. Lawrence Cherono (Ken) 2:10:02
5. Ayad Lamdassem (Spa) 2:10:16
6. Suguru Osako (Jpn) 2:10:41
7. Alphonce Felix (Tan) 2:11:35
8. Galen Rupp (US) 2:11:41 (AL)
9. Othmane El Goumri (Mor) 2:11:58; 10. Koen Naert (Bel) 2:12:13; 11. Mohamed Reda El Aaraby (Mor) 2:12:22; 12. Nicolas Navarro (Fra) 2:12:50; 13. Maru Teferi (Isr) 2:13:02; 14. Goitom Kifle (Eri) 2:13:22; 15. Jeisson Alexander Suárez (Col) 2:13:29; 16. Tachlowini Gabriyesos (Eri) 2:14:02; 17. Morhad Amdouni (Fra) 2:14:33; 18. Hamza Sahili (Mor) 2:14:48; 19. Shaohui Yang (Chn) 2:14:58;
20. Eyob Ghebrehiwet Faniel (Ita) 2:15:11; 21. Daniel Mateo (Spa) 2:15:21; 22. Yohanes Gebregergish (Eri) 2:15:34; 23. Abdi Hakin Ulad (Den) 2:15:50; 24. Liam Adams (Aus) 2:15:51; 25. El Hassan El Abbassi (Bhr) 2:15:56; 26. Richard Ringer (Ger) 2:16:08; 27. Tiidrek Nurme (Est) 2:16:16; 28. Girmaw Amare (Isr) 2:16:17; 29. Jake Riley (US) 2:16:26;
30. Amanal Petros (Ger) 2:16:33; 31. Eulalio Munoz (Arg) 2:16:35; 32. Jianhua Peng (Chn) 2:16:39; 33. Javier Guerra (Spa) 2:16:42; 34. Elroy Gelant (SA) 2:16:43; 35. Oqbe Kibrom Ruesom (Eri) 2:16:57; 36. Zane Robertson (NZ) 2:17:04; 37. Haimro Alame (Isr) 2:17:17; 38. Adam Nowicki (Pol) 2:17:19; 39. Olivier Irabaruta (Bur) 2:17:44;
40. Sondre Nordstad Moen (Nor) 2:17:59; 41. Abdi Abdirahman (US) 2:18:27; 42. Thomas Rainhold (Nam) 2:18:28; 43. Derlis Ayala (Par) 2:18:34; 44. Fred Musobo (Uga) 2:18:39; 45. Hassan Chahdi (Fra) 2:18:40; 46. Ben Preisner (Can) 2:19:27; 47. Yassine El Fathaoui (Ita) 2:19:44; 48. Trevor Hofbauer (Can) 2:19:57; 49. Jong-Sub Shim (SK) 2:20:36;
50. Hendrik Pfeiffer (Ger) 2:20:43; 51. Felix Chemonges (Uga) 2:20:53; 52. Yavuz Agrali (Tur) 2:21:00; 53. Joaquín Arbe (Arg) 2:21:15; 54. Chris Thompson (GB) 2:21:29; 55. Byambajav Tseveenravdan (Mgl) 2:21:32; 56. Jose Santana Marin (Mex) 2:21:32; 57. Guojian Dong (Chn) 2:21:35; 58. Kevin Seaward (Ire) 2:21:45; 59. Dieter Kersten (Bel) 2:22:06;
60. Christian Pacheco (Per) 2:22:12; 61. Peter Herzog (Aut) 2:22:15; 62. Shogo Nakamura (Jpn) 2:22:23; 63. Arkadiusz Gardzielewski (Pol) 2:22:50; 64. Malcolm Hicks (NZ) 2:23:12; 65. Juan Pacheco (Mex) 2:23:41; 66. Brett Robinson (Aus) 2:24:04; 67. Suttoali Khoarahlima (Les) 2:25:03; 68. Roman Fosti (Est) 2:25:37; 69. Paulo Roberto Paula (Bra) 2:26:08;
70. Thijs Nijhuis (Den) 2:26:59; 71. Paul Pollock (Ire) 2:27:48; 72. Cam Levins (Can) 2:28:43; 73. Yuma Hattori (Jpn) 2:30:08; 74. Jesús Arturo Esparza (Mex) 2:31:51; 75. Joge Castelblanco (Pan) 2:33:22; 76. Ivan Zarco (Hon) 2:44:36;
… dnf—Tadesse Abraham (Swi), Jack Rayner (Aus), Lemawork Ketema (Aut), Mykola Nyzhnyk (Ukr), Joo-Han Oh (SK), Oleksandr Sitkovskyy (Ukr), Daniel da Silva (Bra), Daniel do Nascimento (Bra), Alemu Bekele (Bhr), Lelisa Desisa (Eth), Sisay Lemma (Eth), Bohdan-Ivan Horodyskyy (Ukr), Ben Connor (GB), Amos Kipruto (Ken), Khalid Choukoud (Neth), Bart van Nunen (Neth), Marcin Chabowski (Pol), John Hakizimana (Rwa), Desmond Mokgobu (SA), Gabriel Gerald Geay (Tan), Polat Kemboi Arıkan (Tur), Stephen Kiprotich (Uga), Shumi Dechasa (Bhr), Stephen Mokoka (SA), Callum Hawkins (GB), Tola Shura (Eth), Ivan González (Col), Stephen Scullion (Ire), Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mgl), Yassine Rachik (Ita).
(5K leader splits: Petros 15:17; Kipchoge 30:53; do Nascimento 46:03; Suárez 1:01:47; Kipchoge 1:17:24; 1:32:31, 1:46:59, 2:01:55) ◻︎