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Eliud Kipchoge Breaks Tokyo Marathon Record en Route to Victory

The Kenyan running great wins the high-profile race for the first time in 2 hours, 2 minutes, 40 seconds.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line to win the men's elite race at the Tokyo Marathon on March 6. (Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool/REUTERS)

Eliud Kipchoge reminded the world of his marathon supremacy on Sunday, March 6, winning his second major race in Japan in less than a year.

Kipchoge crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 2 minutes, 40 seconds to win the Tokyo Marathon. Kipchoge broke the Tokyo Marathon record of 2:03:38 set by Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang in 2018.

He collected his second consecutive Olympic marathon gold medal at the Tokyo Games last August in Sapporo.

Last year’s race was postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, and organizers still decided to refer to the postponed event as the 2021 Tokyo Marathon. About 19,000 runners participated in the race, according to published reports.

The 2020 Tokyo Marathon was limited to an elite field of 165.

This time, thousands of runners raced through the nation’s capital. A negative PCR test was required in order to participate.

Kipchoge, 37, exhibited his running mastery from start to finish. As the 42.195-km race reached the latter stages, Kipchoge found an extra gear, showcasing his stamina.

The world-record holder in the marathon, 2:01:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon, was engaged in a race within the race at the 35-km mark. He and Kenyan compatriot Amos Kipruto were tied with a time of 1:41:30.

From that point on, Kipchoge created a bit of a gap over his rival, stretching it to a 5-second margin around the 37-km mark. And the distance between the two men continued to pick up until Kipruto finished second in 2:03:13.

Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola placed third in 2:04:14. Japan’s Kengo Suzuki was fourth (2:05:28) and Shura Kitata of Ethiopia was fifth (2:06:12).

Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei was the top female finisher in 2:16:02, a Tokyo Marathon record for women runners.

Ethiopians Ashete Bekere and Gotytom Gebreslase came in second (2:17:58) and third (2:18:18), respectively.

Mao Ichiyama, who placed eighth at the Tokyo Olympics, was Japan’s top women’s finisher, placing sixth in 2:21:02.

From the Winner’s View

After his 33-second victory over Kipruto, Kipchoge reflected on the race and its energetic atmosphere.

“I am really happy,” Kipchoge told reporters. “I am excited to be here in Japan, especially after winning the Olympic Games in Sapporo. I really appreciated the crowd.”

“I said I wanted to run strong in Japan and I did, I ran a course record,” he added after running the fourth-fastest time ever for a marathon. “I am really happy I won another major marathon.”

Delighted by his performance, the Kenyan runner paid tribute to Tokyo after the race.

“I am so proud to win in the streets of Tokyo, where the people have running in their heart and minds,” Kipchoge wrote on Twitter.


The race began in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward and ended in the city’s Marunochi District.

Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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