Of the 37,675 who crossed the Finish Line in The Mall by 18:10 this evening, three established new world records while no fewer than six course records fell on a day of celebration for Paula Radcliffe and triumph for London Marathon debutants Eliud Kipchoge and Tigist Tufa, who took the prestigious elite titles in style.
Kipchoge clinched the men’s crown with a thrilling sprint finish and a flamboyant gesture, denying reigning champion Wilson Kipsang his third London win as he clocked the third fastest time on the course of 2:04:42, while Tufa upset the odds to beat a field of fancied Kenyans, becoming only the second Ethiopian to win the women’s race.
In the men’s wheelchair race it was another case of so near, yet so far for Britain’s David Weir. He again missed out in his bid for a record seventh title by one second, this time losing to Joshua George, who completed a US double in the wheelchair races, grabbing gold for his nation in the IPC Athletics Marathon World Championships, where a trio of records were set by world-beating para-athletes.
Morocco’s El Amin Chentouf retained his T12 world title in 2:21:23 to claim his third consecutive London Marathon victory, while Spain’s Abderrahman Ait Khamouch finished in 2:26:54 to break the T46 record by eight seconds, and Russia’s Elena Pautova broke three hours to win the women’s T12 race in 2:58:23.
Before all that breathtaking action, crowds around the Finish Line, including the Beckham family supporting Romeo, had already seen five course records in the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon, none more impressive than Kate Adenegan who marked herself out as one to watch by smashing more than two minutes from the Under 14 girls’ wheelchair mark.
There were records too for Nathan Maguire in the Under 17 boys’ wheelchair event, Ben Dijkstra in the Under 17s boys’ race and Tommy Dawson in the Under 13 boys’ race, while Katy-Ann McDonald equalled the Under 15 girls’ mark.
After the Minis came the masses, set on their way by the London Marathon’s first-ever winners, Joyce Smith, Inge Simonsen and Dick Beardsley, who sent a record 38,020 starters off from Greenwich this morning with a hand-in-hand gesture to echo Simonsen and Beardsley’s famous shared finish from 1981.
There were no shared finishes among the elites this year, but a lot of shared love for Radcliffe who completed an emotional final race as a competitive athlete, receiving a standing ovation on The Mall, before being presented with the John Disley London Marathon Lifetime Achievement Award by Prince Harry and race founder Disley.
“This is a really special event and everyone will tell you that,” said Radcliffe afterwards. “For me it was very, very special to be given that award.
“I knew it would be emotional and it was. I nearly lost it at Birdcage Walk, but the crowds bowled me over. I wanted it to last forever.”
It was an emotional day for thousands of other runners too, as behind the stars the masses chased times and fundraising targets, turning the cool, damp London streets into a colourful parade as club runners, fun runners, celebrities and Guinness World Records hopefuls pledged to transform their 26.2-mile challenge into millions of pounds for charity.
Former Team Sky cyclist Chris Newton smashed his own celebrity record with a hugely impressive finishing time of 2:39:27, followed home by an array of well-known faces including Formula 1’s Jenson Button, who clocked a swift 2:52:30, model Christy Turlington Burns in 3:46:45, BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans who crossed the line in 4:53:15 and Bank of England governor Mark Carney who ran 3:31:35 before declaring it “one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life”.
Alun Cairns was again the fastest MP, in 3:38:25, while 33 fancy dress-wearing fundraisers set Guinness World Records, an amazing total on an amazing day for all, not least Laura Harvey and Paul Elliott, who married at St Katharine Docks half way round the course, and fittingly crossed the line #handinhand, claiming it was “the best day of our lives”.