It was the London Marathon this week and the annual running event brought with it the usual spectacle and thrilling finishes. From a farewell to our beloved Mo to a celebration of records being broken, there was plenty to excite onlookers as well as those cheering on from home. From the unexpected to the unbelievable, it was a day of interesting stats and twists and we’d like to highlight 10 of our biggest takeaways from the London Marathon.
BBC commentary gave terrible advice
Like any major event, the London marathon features many armchair experts, wadding in with their two cents. Of course, any marathon can be a difficult beast to predict and examine and even the experts can fall afoul with the odd blunder. Halfway into her race, Steve Cram and Co suggested Sifan Hassan, a marathon debutant and early contender, retire due to an injury she was visibly struggling with. Thankfully she didn’t listen and went on to win the women’s race and her very first marathon in stunning fashion, pipping Alemu Megertu and previously undefeated Olympic gold medallist Peres Jepchirchir at the post to win by mere seconds.
The Marcel Hug Show
It’s Marcel Hug’s world and we are all just living in it. The Swiss legend completed another romp of the men’s wheelchair category less than a week after his win in the Boston marathon. He won by exactly 5 minutes and secured another course record by beating his own by a minute. He’s dominated the category over the last 3 years, becoming the first man to win 3 in a row since David Weir in 2006-8. He’ll now have his eye on the record number of wins, currently held by David Weir at a massive 8 wins. With 5 wins under his belt and a massive surge of momentum, he’s the king of the wheelchair category at the moment.
Age is just a number
This year’s London Marathon saw the biggest field ever with over 48,000 people taking part and completing the daunting distance. The bumper field saw a rise in the old guard as there were 408 runners over the age of 70, nearly double the competitors in the 18-19 bracket! A particular highlight saw 90-year-old David Picksley complete the race after completing the virtual versions of the race after the last 2 years. In sharp contrast to this, the youngest participant was Lana Dales, who just squeezed over the age limit by celebrating her birthday on the eve of the race!
Get a grip
When passing by drink stations, be sure to get a firm grip on the bottles or cups. Kelvin Kiptum ended up having to pray to the gods he’d make it through the last mile after failing to grab a much needed hydration boost. Thankfully it didn’t derail him too badly as he finished 3 minutes clear of the next fastest!
The drinks station can be a tricky obstacle to tackle mid-run for even the best of us as both winners suffered from drinking blunders. Sifan Hassan also managed to overcome making a mess of collecting a drink from a water station, and even ended up sharing her drink with a rival. Teamwork makes the dream work after all.
Records are there to be broken
With so many people taking part and so many different challenge runs, the London marathon is no stranger to record breaking achievements and the 2023 marathon was no exception with 45 records beaten. The highlight was obviously Kelvin Kiptum’s immense 02:01:25 which saw him break the previous record for the men’s event held by fellow Kenyan and marathon icon Eliud Kipchoge. Marcel Hug also continued his dominance in the wheelchair category knocking off a minute from his course record from last year to set a new record in 01:23:44. The other records are a mixed bag of ridiculous costumed achievements but still mighty impressive. A select few of our favourites included :
- Guillaume Perin: Fastest marathon dressed in an Australian Football League kit (male) – 03:26:43
- Matthew Friend: Fastest marathon in a Kung Fu uniform – 03:28:10
- Nickolaj Kennett: Fastest marathon dressed as a postal worker (male) – 03:28:38
- Peter James Banks: Fastest marathon dressed as a star (male) – 03:30:09
- Alex Grady: Fastest marathon dressed as a boxer – 02:38:52
- Thomas David Hall: Fastest marathon dressed as a lifeguard (male) – 02:42:22
- Julian Rendall: Fastest marathon dressed in pyjamas (male) – 02:46:46
Shoes on the wrong feet…
The running shoe market has been historically dominated by Nike for decades with their shoes being on the feet of some of the most iconic athletes of all time. In recent years however, the Nike chokehold has been loosening and that has led to the likes of Adidas making gains with them recently having a huge weekend at the Boston Marathon. It will have come as a blessed relief then that Kelvin Kiptum’s record-breaking display came in a pair of Nike shoes. Well, it will be for Nike at least…
However, it could land Kiptum in a spot of bother. In March of this year, Kiptum signed a multi-million pound deal with Chinese shoe brand Qiaodan in what was a major shock. However, on the day of the race, Kiptum ran in his old reliable Nikes. What’s even more interesting is that he didn’t run in the new Vaporfly 3s (Nike’s big new feature), instead opting for the older 2s. It seems unlikely that Kiptum and his team would simply break a massive contract so blatantly but Qiaodan are reported to be considering legal action. It’s a fascinating situation and one that could easily boil over as Qiaodan are no stranger to a legal battle as their lengthy court disputes with the Jordans have proven.
All this controversy over a running shoe? I mean seriously, how often do you really look at a man’s shoes?
The Men’s / Women’s gap widens for the first time in years
With a combination of Kiptum’s insane performance and Hassan’s battling victory, the gap in times between men and women grew for the first time in years. In the last 5 years, the gap had come down to around 14 minutes between the two races as the performance of both sets of athletes has steadily improved but this year, the difference between the two times was 18 minutes and 7 seconds. With Kiptum being 3 minutes in front of Geoffrey Kamworor in second, this is more a reflection of Kiptum’s dominance than anything else.
King Mo bows out
Just 2 weeks before the King is crowned, the king of long-distance running, Mo Farah, ran his last ever marathon putting in a more than respectable display to finish 9th. Over 10 years since his heroic efforts at the London Olympics, Mo will be running one last event at the Great North Run before heading into retirement. One of the most respected and decorated endurance athletes of all time, Mo Farah has captured the hearts of the nation and at 40 years of age, he’s still one of the best to ever do it.
Training during Ramadan
Training for the London marathon is difficult enough for any runner but for those fasting through Ramadan, training is made even more difficult. This is not a new topic with muslim runners such as Mo Farah either opting to fast after the season is over or donating to charity and giving their time to fundraising. The BBC looked to highlight this aspect of preparation for muslim runners with a race diary following Haroon Mota on his journey to London and how his fasting impacted his training. However, with Sifan Hassan fasting during her preparation for her first ever marathon, it makes that victory even more significant. To win your very first marathon (no matter how talented and successful Sifan has been over the years) is a truly special achievement and to do it while also participating in a religious fast shows the determination and level of focus Hassan has.
A charitable success
The London marathon is obviously a major source of fundraising and last year raised over £58.3 million for worthy causes. This year’s marathon was bigger than ever and as showcased above, it had no shortage of challenge runs and fundraising efforts. So far, the money raised has exceeded over £52 million across JustGiving and Enthuse, a truly amazing achievement from everyone involved! To see the campaigns that managed to raise the most money along with donation links to show your support, check out the following link with tons of great information.
The London Marathon was an absolute triumph, a celebration of running and the great community at the heart of it. The amount of money raised is incredible and the high number of entrants has been truly amazing to see. If you’ve felt inspired by the recent marathons and you’d like to try marathon running for yourself, check out our blog. We’ve got a number of articles on marathon tips, marathons for beginners and tips for fuelling yourself for long runs. Life is for running so get your shoes on!