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London Marathon start 2019

From the sublime to the hilarious at the London Marathon

With the ballot already open for the 2020 race we take a look back at some of the off-beat highlights of the 39th Virgin Money London Marathon (VMLM) on Sunday (28 April) through the eyes of runABC reporter Alan Newman, who has a personal connection with one of the most publicised competitors...

This year's London Marathon broke new ground with a record 42,906 starters and 42,549 finishers, 2,000 more than the previous best. There are no superlatives left to describe the utter dominance of world record holder, Eliud Kipchoge, whose winning time (2:02:37) was a course record and second fastest in history behind his 2:01:39 in Berlin – making London the second fastest marathon in the world.

Kipchoge (34) has now won 10 of his 11 marathons, including the Rio Olympics. If you take out his 2:08:44 Olympic gold in torrid conditions in Brazil, his average time is 2:04:00! Kipchoge now joins Ingrid Kristiansen as a four-time London champion.

Sir Mo Farah attracted some negative headlines for fifth in 2:05:39 but this was less than 30 seconds outside his European record and he broke his British 30K record (1:27:28) by three seconds as he battled to stay with the African elite.

Brigid Kosgei (25) became the youngest ever female champion and the ninth fastest in history despite an almost pedestrian first half (1:11:38). The quickest ever second half (1:06:42) was responsible for her magnificent 2:18:20, a personal best by 15 seconds.

Celebrity finishers were led by former world champion cyclist Chris Newton (2:45:24) and model Nell McAndrew (3:15:08). The women's race starter, former Wimbledon champion Amélie Mauresmo, recorded 3:22:46 to miss out on a dinner paid for by men's starter Andy Murray, had she improved her PB. One celebrity who impressed our reporter was the 'Ever Present' Chris Finill (M60, 2:59:46) who achieved his 38th sub-3-hour run in London.

The race predictably took the charity fund raising total to the £1 billion milestone since the inaugural London Marathon and many competitors wore fancy dress in an attempt to set a Guinness world record. Fastest of the 38 successful record beaters was Matthew Berry (2:43:54) 'dressed as a zombie (male)'.

The Metropolitan Police were successful in their bid for glory as the 'fastest six-person costume' as they piloted their Thunderbird 2 outfit to a world record 5:59:33. However, maximum publicity for his charity Dementia Revolution was achieved in a failed attempt on the marathon record 'dressed as a landmark' by Lukas Bates (30) from Maidstone, Kent.

Lukas, a useful club runner with a 2:59:22 best, was coached for a few years at Paddock Wood AC by this writer, who was reduced to tears watching him attempt to get his over-sized Big Ben costume beneath the finish gantry. Lukas clocked 3:54:21 after receiving a big hand from a helpful marshal but he missed the record by 20 mins. Enjoy Lukas' hilarious moment of fame here...

Image courtesy Virgin Money London Marathon on facebook

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