LONDON – Tsegaye Kebede claimed a second London Marathon title on Sunday, cheered through the streets by thousands of spectators reassured by enhanced security at the first major race since the twin bombings at the Boston event.
Kebede clocked 2 hours, 6 minutes and 15 seconds to emulate his 2010 triumph in London, while compatriot Ayele Abshero was third.
The victory in the British capital came after Kebede was denied a shot at glory here at the Olympics last year after being overlooked by Ethiopian selectors.
The Kenyan cruised over the line in 2:20:15 seconds, the fastest time this year, ahead of compatriot Edna Kiplagat, while Yukiko Akaba of Japan was third.
“Today I’m very, very happy, I couldn’t believe I could be the winner,” Jeptoo told the BBC. “It is a very tough race because everybody who comes here is really prepared.”
It was a miserable day for Olympic champion Tiki Gelana, who finished 16th after seeing her hopes thwarted by a collision about a third of the way in.
The Ethiopian collided with Canadian wheelchair racer Josh Cassidy as she went to get a drink.
“Every year we come to overtake the women, there’s 10 chairs going at 20 mph and the poor women are scrambling to find their feet,” said Cassidy, who finished 20th. “I have a brand new $2,000 pair of wheels that are damaged, who’s going to pay for them? Things have to change.”
It was the one blot on a day marked by the defiance of athletes and spectators in the bright London sunshine in a difficult week for the athletics community.
The spectre of the bombings near to the Boston Marathon finish line, which killed three people and injured more than 180, loomed in London.
And it was apt that Tatyana McFadden, who won the wheelchair race in Boston just before the explosions, shrugged off security concerns in London to win her second title in a week.
London organizers pledged to donate 2 pounds ($3) for every finisher to The One Fund Boston set up to raise money for the bomb victims.
Before a minute’s silence at the start of the marathon, event commentator Geoff Wightman urged athletes to “remember our friends and colleagues for whom a day of joy turned into a day of sadness.”
Prince Harry mingled with the crowds and said he had never thought about cancelling his visit following the bombings.
“It’s fantastic, typically British,” he said. “People are saying they haven’t seen crowds like this for eight years around the route. It’s remarkable to see.”