London Marathon Women — Kosgei Zinging In The Rain

Due to the weather, “I struggled a lot today,” said Kosgei after her third London win. (NBCSportsGold screen capture)

LONDON, ENGLAND, October 04—Brigid Kosgei ran through the raindrops to her third straight WMM win, defending her London title and following up her stupefying World Record a year ago in Chicago with a very solid 2:18:58 effort.

American Sara Hall charged up the leaderboard over the second half and sprinted by Ruth Chepngetich in the final 100 to finish 2nd, clocking a 2:22:01 PR. Countrywoman Molly Seidel backed up her Olympic Trials debut in the 26-miler with a very credible 6th in a PR 2:25:13 as both scored well on the all-time U.S. list (see sidebar).

While Kosgei didn’t ever challenge her 2:14:04 standard—or match the domination displayed over the 66:42 closing half of her ’19 London win—the 26-year old Kenyan made winning look easy on a difficult day and in a difficult C19 impacted competition. Such were the challenges that Kosgei was happy just getting the win. “Due to the weather today, it made our legs freeze all the way to the finish,” she said, “so, I struggled a lot today to hit my normal time, but I had to finish.”

For all their efforts in staging a bubble competition, neither the athletes nor London’s organizational team deserved the cold drizzle that fell upon the elite women’s field that set off at 07:15. Fortunately, that is prime training time for the East African women and they got after it ripping through the opening 10K in 32:25 (2:16:51 pace).

Kosgei and Chepngetich ran in lockstep a stride behind a trio of pacers with only Valary Jemeli and Ethiopian Ashete Bekele able to match the fast start.

Not for long as the pace got steadier and faster with all 10 of the ensuing Ks covered between 3:11 and 3:15 with the lead group passing 20K in 64:35 (2:16:07 pace). Fast running indeed and well inside Mary Keitany’s women-only WR of 2:17:01.

Yet after an hour’s run in the chilly downpour, almost all the runners began to slow down—including Kosgei. “I just tried my best,” she said. “The weather affected us today. There was some wind and rain all the way, which made our muscles colder. No one could warm up so it was difficult to even finish.”

As the pace eased, Kosgei and Chepngetich remained together through 30K in 1:38:18 (2:18:17 pace) before the favorite threw in a surge to break clear and run unchallenged over the final 12K to dip under 2:19 for the fourth time in her career. “I didn’t have anything planned,” she admitted, “but I felt good. I felt my body wanted to move.”

While the leading quintet began a long, slowing glide path to the finish, Hall was able to maintain her pace and charged up through the ranks. Sitting in 7th after crossing halfway in 1:10:27, Hall hit her stride and it was a strong powerful stride that she was able to sustain all the way to the finish.

“I was fighting the whole way just catching people,” she said. “My husband [Ryan] was going nuts. He was telling me how far back I was on the last couple of laps from 3rd and then 2nd. I just felt amazing out there.”

Hall worked her way onto the podium passing Bekele with 4K to go, and heading into the final 2150m lap set her sights on Chepngetich, the reigning WC gold medalist: “It was a very surreal moment, Seeing the world champion there in the last lap, that definitely motivated me to give it my all.”

Hall termed her runner-up finish driven by a closing dash past world champ Chepngetich “a redemptive moment.” (NBCSportsGold screen capture)

The 37-year-old Californian, who chopped 15 seconds off her PR, admitted, “This was such a redemptive moment. I didn’t make our Olympic marathon team and it was a massive disappointment, and this was just the moment of redemption for me. I feel so grateful.”

LONDON MARATHON WOMEN’S RESULTS

London, England, October 04 (2150m loop course)—

1. Brigid Kosgei (Ken) 2:18:58 (x, =26 W) (1:08:13/1:10:45);

2. Sara Hall (US) 2:22:01 PR (AL) (6, 8 A) (1:10:27/1:11:34);

3. Ruth Chepngetich (Ken) 2:22:05 (1:08:12/1:13:53); 4. Ashete Bekele (Eth) 2:22:51; 5. Alemu Megertu (Eth) 2:24:23;

6. Molly Seidel (US) 2:25:13 PR (9, x A) (1:12:26/1:12:47);

7. Gerda Steyn (SA) 2:26:51 PR; 8. Sinead Diver (Aus) 2:27:07; 9. Darya Mykhaylova (Ukr) 2:27:29; 10. Valary Jemeli (Ken) 2:28:18; 11. Edith Chelimo (Ken) 2:29:03; 12. Ellie Pashley (Aus) 2:31:31;… 17. Lindsay Flanagan (US) 2:37:16;… rabbit—Vivian Kiplagat (Ken) (1:08:11).