Eliud Kipchoge back to winning ways in NN Mission Marathon

Reigning Olympic champion showed London was merely a blip as he clocked 2:04:30 in what he called "the real test" ahead of his title defence in Tokyo in August.

By Rory Jiwani

Eliud Kipchoge is back.

The reigning Olympic marathon champion and sub-two-hour man bounced back from his shock defeat in London last October to take victory in the NN Mission Marathon in Enschede in 2:04:30.

The Kenyan hero had compatriot Jonathan Korir and pacemaker Philemon Kacheran for company at 30km.

Minutes later, Kipchoge made his move and eased clear of Korir on his way to an emphatic victory on the special looped course at Twente Airport.

This was Kipchoge's last marathon before he defends his Olympic title at Tokyo 2020 on 8 August.

In his post-race interview, the 36-year-old gave thanks to organisers who had to switch the race from its original venue of Hamburg due to COVID restrictions.

Kipchoge said, "It's mission accomplished. Thank you to the great men and women who organised this race in less than 10 days. I can say that the NN Mission Marathon is the best ever. It's good to organise in a different environment. It's good to organise the meet during a pandemic to tell everybody that you can still run. This is the best race towards to a huge day at the Olympics.

"This was the real test towards the Tokyo Olympics. It's a good marathon to happen a few months before the Olympics to test your fitness. The plans are going on. I'm going back to Kenya to talk to the right people... my good coach, my good management, my good technical team for consolidation."

While the race was closed to spectators, it was certainly open to the elements, but world record holder Kipchoge felt comfortable.

He added "The conditions were really good. A bit windy but no complaints and all of us run in the same conditions. I don't like to complain because a race is a race and we are running on the same course."

Korir plugged on for second in a new personal best of 2:06:40 with Eritrea's Goitom Kifle third in 2:08:07.

Kacheran kept going and crossed the line in fourth but, as a designated pacemaker, his result does not count.

London 2012 marathon gold medallist Stephen Kiprotich clocked 2:09:04 to take fourth ahead of fellow Ugandan Geoffrey Kusuro.

Germany's Katharina Steinrueck, the daughter of Seoul 1998 bronze medallist Katrin Doerre, broke her personal best by well over a minute as she took the women's race in 2:25:59.

Gladys Chesir, 2010 Youth Olympic gold medallist at 3000m and the fastest woman in the field, lost touch with the leaders 25km into her first race back from having a baby.

She finished eighth in 2:29:16, more than five minutes outside her career best.

READ: Results from the NN Mission Marathon