Kenya’s Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui prevailed in a compelling east African duel with Ethiopian Tamirat Tola on the streets of London to win the men’s marathon at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday.
Kirui, victor at the Boston Marathon in April, finally broke Tola, the fastest man in the field, with five miles (8.05 km) of the 26.2-mile course left after they had gone head-to-head over the second half of the race.
At the 19-mile mark, Tola, the fastest man in the field, had made his decisive effort and sped away from the 24-year-old Kenyan but within two miles Kirui had hauled back the lead before surging away immediately and emphatically.
Kenya’s fifth men’s world champion at the distance eventually crossed the line at Tower Bridge in 2 hours 8 minutes 27 seconds, finishing one minute and 22 seconds ahead of Tola (2:09:49).
The fading Ethiopian just held on for silver by two seconds from the fast-finishing Tanzanian Alphonce Simbu.
Britain’s Callum Hawkins created the biggest cheers from the big crowds lining the streets when he came home in a remarkable fourth place in 2:10:17 amid familiar African domination.