Peres Jepchirchir sets women’s-only world record in brilliant London Marathon win

Peres Jepchirchir sets women’s-only world record in brilliant London Marathon win

There’s a line towards the end of Shawshank Redemption uttered by Red, the one film character I defy anyone to dislike (if you do dislike him, then I despair…) where he utters: “Seriously, how often do you look at a man’s shoes?”

It’s a line that that I have often thought about since I first watched the celebrated film and – unless you happen to be wearing pointy, black school shoes with the laces on the side – the answer from me is “not that much”.

But that won’t be possible today when a lot, if not all, the talk will be of shoes. Yep, technology has come to long-distance running with spectacular results and there is talk of records possibly being broken today.

Tigst Assefa wore the now almost mythical Adidas Adios Adizero Pro Evo 1 carbon running shoes (nice pithy name there) for her world record run in Berlin last year. The Ethiopian crossed the line in 2hr 11min 53sec, shaving more than two minutes off Brigid Kosgei’s 2019 landmark of 2hr 14min 04sec. A former 800m specialist, Assefa only raced the marathon for the first time two years ago before winning the 2022 Berlin race with what was then the third fastest women’s run in history.

Kosgei’s record, which itself beat Paula Radcliffe’s 2003 world record of 2hr 15min 25sec, was also set in the era of the new super-cushioned carbon-plated shoes that emerged in 2016 with Nike’s Vaporfly and then Alphafly innovations.

Today, Assefa is out at the very least to break at least one record, the course record.

“I am very happy to be in London for the first time,” the 27 year old said. “I did train very well for Berlin and I have trained well for this one. God will show how good I am on Sunday.

“I have prepared very well for this race and I am sure I can beat the course record here. As I am sure all my competitors here will feel as well. Regardless of whether it is London or Berlin, it will not change my strategy at all.

“I am here to win.”

In the men’s race shoes will also be a key factor. But last year’s winner Kelvin Kiptum will not be at the start line after his tragic death in a car crash in February. The Kenyan broke the course record with a time of  2hr 1min 25sec last year. The London Marathon will honour the Kenyan in a series of tributes today.

In his absence Tamirat Tola starts as favourite and, having won in New York last autumn, the Ethiopian feels a carefully planned build-up will give him every chance of adding the London Marathon title to his Stateside success.

The 32-year-old locked a new course record of two hours, four minutes and 58 seconds when he won in Manhattan and has high hopes of another fast time in the UK capital.

”[Winning in] London is not easy, but I worked hard to win New York and my training has all been OK since then, so I am ready,” said Tola, who also won the 2023 Great North Run title.

“Everything is good with what my coaches have prepared for me to win, so we can hope for a good result on Sunday.”

Stay here for all the action on London’s roads and watch out for those shoes…
 

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