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9 Amazing London Marathon Winners Whose Stars Have Lit the Runway

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It’s not surprising that a significant number of London Marathon winners are African. They typically dominate long-distance races and the London Marathon, one of the six world major marathons, is no exception. The event is traditionally held in April but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was moved to October between 2019 and 2022.

This year, elite men and women marathoners will line up in London on April 21 alongside 50,000 who entered the lottery. The course has produced a world record on several occasions, including in the last edition in 2023. In this article, we tell you more about London marathon winners.

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Eliud Kipchoge

Eliud Kipchoge at the 2018 London Marathon. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-2.0

You can’t talk about London Marathon winners without mentioning Eliud Kipchoge. He’s the most successful runner on the track, having won four races in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. In his last victory, Kipchoge also broke the course record, running 2:02:37.

Despite his mastery of the track, his second marathon defeat came in 2020, finishing eighth in a time of 2:06:49, his worst in his career. It appears as though Kipchoge won’t compete in London this year, as his name isn’t included in this list by World Athletics.

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Kelvin Kiptum

Kelvin Kiptum’s sudden demise left the world in shock. At 24, his career was just getting started. After running in a series of half-marathons, Kiptum wrote history in his first London marathon. The late athlete broke Eliud Kipchoge’s course record and finished in the second fastest time of 2:01:25, missing out on Eliud Kipchoge’s world record by 16 seconds.

The 23-year-old beat a competitive field that included two-time New York marathon winner Geoffrey Kamworor and Tamirat Tola. A few months later, Kiptum broke the world record in Chicago and rewrote his name in the history books. Unfortunately, the world was robbed of a talent that could have broken more records.

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Shura Kitata

Shura Kitata at the London Marathon 2018. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-2.0

The Ethiopian joins our list of London marathon winners after his 2020 victory. He completed the race in 2:05:41 and ended Kipchoge’s winning streak at the course. In 2019, the runner finished fourth and stated that he only took fruits for breakfast. He changed his approach in 2020, having bread, soup, eggs and yoghurt for breakfast, which he said, powered him to victory. This was his first win in the London capital and his first gold medal in a marathon major.

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw

Yalemzerf Yehualaw will remember her first major marathon forever. She became the youngest woman to win the race after clocking 2:17:25, beating a competitive field that also included Jocelyn Kipkosgei and compatriot Alemu Megertu. Yehualaw recovered from a fall just 10 km to the finish line to win her first major. She’s expected to defend her title this year.

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Brigid Kosgei

Brigid Kosgei at the 2018 London Marathon. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-2.0

Kenya’s two-time London Marathon winner is set to return to the course this year after missing out on last year’s race due to a hamstring injury. In preparation, the former world record holder competed and won the Lisbon half marathon in March, as she aims to reclaim her title in London. She’s one of the most decorated runners in the women’s lineup having won five gold medals in three majors.

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Sifan Hassan

The Ethiopian-born Dutch athlete clinched victory on her marathon debut in London and joined the list of London marathon winners. This wasn’t an easy victory. Sifan Hassan endured a hip problem at the 15-mile mark, forcing her to stop but then it subsided and she got back into the race.

The 30-year-old also recovered from a mess at the water station, passing her bottle to last year’s winner, determined to finish the race. She peeled away from fierce rivals Alemu Megertu and Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir, in the sprint finish along the Mall, to clock 2:18:33.

After her win, Sifan said winning London was a dream, and it’s a race she’ll never forget. The athlete has enjoyed massive success in other disciplines, like the 5,000 and the 10,000-meter, in which she’s won a gold medal in several events:

  • Olympics
  • World Championships
  • Diamond League
  • World Indoor Championship
  • European Championship

Wilson Kipsang

Wilson Kipsang talks about his doping case. Video Credit: NTV Kenya

The former world marathon record holder and two-time London Marathon winner is planning to return to competition after serving a four-year ban. The punishment was implemented in 2020 after a series of anti-doping violations. He finished first in London in 2012 and 2014, and the 42-year-old might find it difficult to keep pace with the current crop of runners.

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Joyciline Jepkosgei

The Kenyan runner emerged victorious in the women’s race in 2021 in a time of 2:17:43, the seventh fastest time of a female marathoner. This was Jepkosgei’s first London marathon in which she beat a stellar lineup of Brigid Kosgei, Ashete Bekere and Degitu Azimeraw among others. She couldn’t defend her title in the 2022 edition, finishing second. She’s one of the runners expected to make the field this year.

Sisay Lemma

Sisay Lemma after winning the 2021 London Marathon. Video Credit: CGTN Sports Scene

Ethiopian runner Sisay Lemma improved on his 2020 London marathon third-place finish to win the race in 2021. He ran a time of 2:04:01, which was faster than his previous 2:05:45. Before this, the Ethiopian finished third in the Berlin marathon in 2019, fourth in the Chicago marathon and failed to finish the Boston marathon.

Running a marathon isn’t easy. And it’s why we admire and celebrate these athletes. Every year, they entertain us and demonstrate resilience, sportsmanship and competitiveness. Africans, and particularly East Africans, have dominated this race, and that is set to continue with the number of athletes this region produces.

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Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi is a sports enthusiast who enjoys sharing sports knowledge. Over the years, she has also written on different niches, and she now brings that experience at Spotcovery. She writes sports content and also, Arts & Culture, Recipe, Beauty and more.

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