Report03 Mar 2024

Kipruto and Kebede run Japanese all-comers' records in Tokyo


Sutume Asefa Kebede wins the Tokyo Marathon (© AFP / Getty Images)

Kenya’s Benson Kipruto and Sutume Asefa Kebede of Ethiopia set respective Japanese all-comers' records of 2:02:16 and 2:15:55 to win at the Tokyo Marathon – a World Athletics Platinum Label road race – on Sunday (3).

Both secured convincing victories from strong fields in the Japanese capital. Kipruto, the 2022 Chicago Marathon champion, won ahead of Timothy Kiplagat and Vincent Kipkemoi Ngetich in a Kenyan top three, while Kebede triumphed ahead of Kenya’s Rosemary Wanjiru and Amane Beriso, Ethiopia's world champion.

The winners improved the records of 2:02:40 and 2:16:02 set by Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei in 2022. Kipchoge returned to Tokyo – back in the country where he won the second of his two Olympic marathon crowns – looking to regain the title but this time the former world record-holder had to settle for 10th place in 2:06:50.

The men’s race went out on world record pace but by 15km the tempo had settled slightly and a four-strong group – featuring Kipchoge, Kipruto, Kiplagat and Ngetich – passed that mark in 42:52, running behind three pacemakers.

The start of the 2024 Tokyo Marathon

The start of the 2024 Tokyo Marathon (© AFP / Getty Images)

Kipchoge started to drop back before 20km and he was five seconds behind when the leaders reached that checkpoint in 57:14.

There was a bit of a cat and mouse battle between the leading trio over the second half of the race, while Kipchoge continued to lose ground. Kiplagat was five seconds ahead of his pursuers at 30km, passed in 1:26:08, but then Kipruto took control.

Dropping Ngetich – last year’s Berlin Marathon runner-up – for good, Kiplagat and Kipruto forged ahead and when Kipruto kicked away over the final 5km, Kiplagat couldn’t respond.

Kipruto went on to win in 2:02:16, taking a chunk off his PB of 2:04:02 set when winning in Chicago last October to move to fifth on the world all-time list. Kiplagat also improved by almost a minute, running 2:02:55, while Ngetich was third in 2:04:18.

Finishing one place ahead of Kipchoge in ninth, Yusuke Nishiyama was the top Japanese finisher, running a PB of 2:06:31. The race was the final opportunity for Japanese men to make it on to their country’s team for the Olympic Games and Suguru Osako's 2:05:50 was the time to beat. Nishiyama was on pace up to 35km but was unable to maintain it and so the third place on the Paris team looks set to go to Osako.

“I didn’t know that it would be a course record but I am so happy with today’s run,” said Kipruto. Asked about the race going out at world record pace, he replied: “I was ready. I knew it was so fast. I trained for it and I was ready for everything that could come.”

In the women’s race, seven athletes – Kebede, Wanjiru and Beriso plus multiple Olympic and world track gold medallist Sifan Hassan, Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, Betsy Saina and Buzunesh Getachew – ran together in a group alongside male runners and reached 15km in 48:38.

Hassan was towards the back of that pack at 20km – reached first by defending champion Wanjiru in 1:04:45, with Hassan four seconds behind.

Hassan, who won the London and Chicago marathons last year, had let them get away by 28km but she carried on, running solo.

The podium seemed decided at 30km, reached by Wanjiru, Kebede and Beriso in 1:36:43, and after Beriso was dropped, Kebede also managed to shake off Wanjiru and sealed victory over the closing kilometres.

She won in 2:15:55, taking more than two minutes off the PB she set in Seoul in 2022 to move to No.8 on the world all-time list. Wanjiru was second in 2:16:14 and Beriso was third in 2:16:58.

Hassan held on to fourth place, clocking 2:18:05, while Saina was fifth in 2:19:17 and Japan’s Hitomi Niiya sixth in 2:21:50.

“I am so happy, I don’t really have words for it,” said Kebede, speaking through an interpreter. “It’s my first victory and I don’t have the words to express how happy I am about that.”

Leading results

1 Sutume Asefa Kebede (ETH) 2:15:55
2 Rosemary Wanjiru (KEN) 2:16:14
3 Amane Beriso (ETH) 2:16:58
4 Sifan Hassan (NED) 2:18:05
5 Betsy Saina (USA) 2:19:17
6 Hitomi Niiya (JPN) 2:21:50

1 Benson Kipruto (KEN) 2:02:16
2 Timothy Kiplagat (KEN) 2:02:55
3 Vincent Kipkemoi Ngetich (KEN) 2:04:18
4 Hailemaryam Kiros (ETH) 2:05:43
5 Tsegaye Getachew (ETH) 2:06:25
6 Bethwel Kibet (KEN) 2:06:26

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