Last week’s London Marathon saw a dramatic power shift in world marathon history. The Kenyan legend Eliud Kipchoge, the first man to run a sub-2 hour marathon and formerly undisputed king of the marathon event lost his crown to Ethiopian challenger Shura Kitata.
History of Africans at the Marathon Race
Over a century ago, when South Africa’s Ken MacArthur became the first African to win a gold medal at a world major marathon event at the Olympic games in 1912. Since then, it has not been uncommon to see several other African athletes dominate athletics in both gender categories.
Asides from the marathon events that take place at the popular Olympic games as a selected sports category, the world’s biggest and most popular marathon races, which were founded as world marathon majors, started as far back as the year 2006, comprising of annual races from the cities of Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City.
The 2020 London Marathon
Shura Kitata defied the odds to win his first London Marathon over raining champion and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in a race that almost didn’t happen.
It is undeniable that the global pandemic’s effect has put a disruption into major sports activities all over the world, thereby forcing most sports federations to either annul or postpone the previously proposed dates for various sports tournaments.
However, some have been brave enough to proceed with sports competitions while observing safety protocols that have been put in place by medical and health outfits. Of all the 6 world major marathon events, the likes of the Boston, Berlin, Chicago, and New York have all canceled their major marathon events for the year 2020. However, the London marathon beat all odds to organize the competition on Sunday, 4th October making it her 40th edition of the tournament.
The London marathon was originally slated for April 26, 2020. Only elite athletes were allowed to participate in the tournament as mass participation was canceled to curb and control the spread of the Covid-19 viruses.
In the wake of the marathon, four-time marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge was tipped to win the men’s category effortlessly but fell short of expectation. He only managed to finish in 8th position in 2:06:49.
At the end of the race, it was Ethiopia’s Kitata who pushed ahead of Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba to finish in 2:05:41 seconds, just one second ahead of the Kenyan.
The men’s category of the London Marathon had about 30 elite athletes for the 2.15km race was held in St. James Park. The men’s race featured world marathon and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya, Ethiopian middle-distance runner Mosinet Geremew, 2016 IAAF World Marathon silver medalist Mule Wasihun, Tokyo 2020 marathon bronze medalist Sisay Lemma and Ethiopian long-distance runner Tamirat Tola all of whom have a personal best time under 2hrs5min.
Who Is Shura Kitata?
Shura Kitata was born on June 9, 1996. He has represented his nation of Ethiopia in several World Marathon Majors, and his victory at the 2020 London marathon was his first-ever London marathon title.
In a post-interview, Kitata said, “I prepared very well for this race, and I am very happy to win the race.”
Shura Kitata has also had other memorable performances, including the 2017 Rome Marathon. He recorded a time of 2:07:30, making it the second-fastest time ever witnessed in the event to claim gold. In the 2017 Frankfurt Marathon, he made a progressive 2 minutes off his personal best despite racing in difficult conditions to clock 2:05:50 to win gold for Ethiopia.