Inseparable in their association is the city of London and the river Thames that winds its majestic way through it. The chimes of Big Ben, the most famous clock in the world, the ring over the city in seeming immortality.
And so was it in 2019, on April 28, that a world champion who has firmly set his sights and his word on breaching the 2 hour mark, ran the 26 mile 385 yard race in 2:02:37, for a record fourth win. Eluid Kipchoge, the reigning champion, didn’t seem to break a sweat at the finish line saying, “you’ll still see me around”! Following on his red hot heels was another elite African, Musinet Geremow at 2:02:55, a personal best for the Ethiopian. Local hero Mo Farah, mired in controversy over a hotel incident less than a week earlier, had to be content with fifth place in 2:05:39. Among the women, Brigid Kosgei breasted the tape in 2:18:20, nearly two minutes ahead of her nearest rival and defending champion, Vivian Cheruiyot, in 2:20:14. So much for the race and the timings. This year saw over 43,000 runners participating for a run, for fun and for a cause. This marathon is the biggest annual fundraising race in the world, with an astounding contribution of close to 50 million pounds sterling since inception.
Contrary to ‘propah’ British tradition, or maybe as a part of it, the London Marathon is full of quirks. Lukas Bates, dressed as the Big Ben, completed the course in 3:54:21, although creating a minor hitch when his ‘towering’ costume got stuck at the finishing line! And then there were the oldest runners. Eileen Noble, all of 84 years, the oldest woman competitor, ran a superb race to finish in 6:28:07. Just a year her senior was Ken Jones, the oldest male competitor, who took an hour longer to complete in 7:40:50. Hayley Carruthers, a radiologist by profession, collapsed but decided not to give up and crawled over the finish line.
London can never be its true self without a curry flavour. And so it was, with two well-known athletes from Chennai. Neville Bilimoria, the legendary super athlete, ran a fabulous race, doing the city and the country proud. The Indian toast of the event, however, goes to Narayanan Muthuswamy, of Chennai Runners – Pettai Rappers, who finished in 3:48, surpassing his personal best by an unbelievable 18 minutes. Inspirational indeed!