About midway through the men’s marathon, Kenya’s Abel Kirui said goodbye to the large pack he was running with and dashed off on his own, blowing away the field to defend his title in 2:07:38. Kirui’s margin of 2 minutes, 28 seconds over fellow Kenyan Vincent Kipruto was the largest in World Championship marathon history.
Kirui and the rest of the leaders ran a bit slowly through 20 kilometers, then Kirui reeled off three consecutive sub-15 minute splits to take charge. Kirui ran 14:43 between the 20- and 25-kilometer marks, then began pulling away from the field with a blazing 14:18 split, the fastest ever recorded in a World Championship, to take an 11-second lead after 30 kilometers. Kirui then ran a 14:40 split to push his lead over Kipruto to more than one minute by the 35-kilometer mark. The Kenyan eased up a bit, yet continued to build his lead until the end. Kipruto finished second in 2:10:04, followed by Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa in 2:10:32.
Ibrahim Jeilan of Ethiopia won an exciting men’s final, passing Farah on the final straight. Farah had emerged from an eight-runner pack on the penultimate lap and seemed to be pulling away at the start of the final lap. But Jeilan reeled him in and won in 27:13.81. Farah took second (27:14.07) and Imane Merga third (27:19.14). Kenenisa Bekele, who’d just returned from a leg injury, tried to make a bid for his fifth consecutive World title, but pulled out of the race with 10 laps remaining.
Bernard Lagat, who the 1500-5000 double in 2007, shadowed Farah throughout the slow-paced race, but Lagat got caught up in some traffic around the final turn and let Farah gain too much of a lead. After Lagat escaped he gained ground on Farah but couldn’t catch him. Farah won in 13:23.36, with Lagat second in 13:23.64. Imane Merga crossed the line third but was disqualified for stepping inside the curb, leaving the bronze to fellow Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel (13:23.92).