London Marathon 2011 Live  //  Mutai and Keitany dominate

17 Apr 2011 Posted by
Emmanuel Mutai and Mary Keitany have won the 2011 London Marathon. Mutai shattered the course record in running 2:04:40, which makes him the fourth fastest man in history (with the 5th fastest performance), while Keitany broke 2:20 in her second run. For both, it was the manner in which the victory was achieved that was so impressive.

Men’s race summary

The men’s race, as is typical, was started with talk of a world record. That prospect seemed doomed as early as 15km, when the 5km split was 15:03. That was followed by another 15:03 up to 20km, and the pace was never as fast as had been promised.

Halfway was hit in 62:44, projecting a 2:05:28, which was fast, but even this was a little misleading because the first 5km had been so quick. Apart from those first 5km, the elite men were running closer to 2:06:30 pace. In fact, the section from 5km to 30km was run at 2:59.4/km, or 2:06:11 pace, so the fast first 5km and a truly exceptional final 10km were responsible for that time!

The race was really shaken up around 30km though. That’s when Mutai hit the front, and the table below tells the story. He burned up the roads of London, running 5km splits of 14:26 and 14:19 between 30 and 40km. It was brutally fast, and no one was able to survive. Martin Lel fought bravely with Patrick Makau in second, but Mutai opened 20 seconds at 35km and was 53 seconds clear at 40km. The rest of the elite group was even more fragmented, pre-race favourite Kebede slipping over 2 minutes behind in this 10km stretch.

Mutai’s final 12km were covered in 35:20, which is 2:54/km and 2:02 marathon pace! That surge was enough to bring the overall time down enormously, and contribute to a 61:56 second half, which was the only negative split of the elite men’s race. Lel and Makau ran 63 minutes for the second half, everyone else was 64 minutes or longer. Admittedly, many will have shut off having seen the win go away, exaggerating these times slightly. So Mutai, who was second in London and New York last year, has gone one better by winning and a lot better by breaking 2:05 and joining a select group of marathon superstars.

Women’s race summary

Keitany, meanwhile, exploded onto the marathon scene, having started in New York last year, she’s now established herself as perhaps THE woman to beat. This is always the case when such a great half-marathon runner comes up, but the question mark is always whether they’ll be able to translate their performances up. Keitany answered that question with a resounding yes today, running an exceptional second half to win in 2:19:19.

The women hit halfway in 1:10:37, which was fast, but gave no indication of what was to happen. It was pre-race Shobukhova who surged at halfway, but all that did was ignite Keitany, who went to the front and then never looked back. A 16:09, 16:01 and a 16:14 followed for the next three 5km splits, and the gap was over 1 minute.

Keitany slowed slightly at the end, and Shobukhova bravely clawed back some of the time she’d lost, finishing in a PB of 2:20:15. But it was an emphatic win for Keitany, who ran with such confidence. Her second half was an incredible 68:42, a massive negative split set up by the fast section from 20 to 35km. It also suggests more to come from Keitany, who must surely be capable of a sub-2:19, and it makes her the marathon runner to beat among the women. With London 2012 on the horizon, the rest of the world will be taking notice!

Below are the splits, and below those tables are my “in-race” thoughts, as the race developed in chronological order. As always, we’ll be doing the same for Boston tomorrow, where ideal conditions should help set up another great race! So join us then!


Men’s Race
Distance Time Interval time Pace for interval Projected time
5 14:34 14:34 2:55 2:02:56
10 29:23 14:49 2:58 2:03:59
15 44:26 15:03 3:01 2:04:59
20 59:29 15:03 3:01 2:05:30
Halfway 1:02:44 2:05:28
25 1:14:16 14:47 2:57 2:05:21
30 1:29:20 15:04 3:01 2:05:39
35 1:43:36 14:26 2:53 2:05:06
40 1:58:08 14:19 2:52 2:04:34
Finish 2:04:40
Women’s Race
Distance Time Interval time Pace for interval Projected time
5 16:16 16:16 3:15 2:17:16
10 32:54 16:38 3:20 2:18:49
15 49:50 16:56 3:23 2:20:11
20 1:07:01 17:11 3:26 2:21:23
Halfway 1:10:37 2:21:14
25 1:23:10 16:09 3:14 2:20:22
30 1:39:11 16:01 3:12 2:19:30
35 1:55:25 16:14 3:15 2:19:19
40 2:12:07 16:42 3:20 2:19:22
Finish 2:19:19

In-race commentary time line

Women start

The women are running 5:15 to 5:20 per mile early on, which is a reasonable start – projects just under 2:20. But, they’re just through 4km now, so a long way to go. The elite group is maybe 10 to 12 large. The commentator keeps saying that Keitany is running her first marathon – she’s not. She came 3rd in New York last year. She’s showing very aggressively at the front so far, but everyone is in touch.

5km in 16:16. 2:17 projected, so that’s quick, but the start of London is slightly down (from 3km to 4km – the mile there was 5:05) so it’s always reasonably quick. Expect it to slow down between 5km and 10km.

10km in 32:54, so it has slowed a little – 16:38 for the last 5km, including a slow mile of 5:48. Mikitenko dropped off just around 5km, but other than that, all the major contenders are there. Keitany running off to the side, Shobukova paying close attention to the pace-maker (and there is only one, which is strange)

Last mile in 5:02, so that must presumably be a downhill mile following the slight uphill. Either that or the pace is fast-slow, but that’s less likely.

Men start

The men are about to start. What an incredible field. Makau vs Kebede is probably the big battle, Makau being the World # 1 last year, and Kebede being beaten only by Wanjiru in that epic Chicago race. But there are maybe 6 men with a good chance of winning. Martin Lel is the dangerous unknown – the most incredible racer in the marathon a few years ago, he’s returning from injuries that have forced withdrawals from his last few races, so I don’t expect, but hope for something from him.

At 15km, the women are on course for 2:20:11, so it is slowing. It’s gone 3:15/km to 3:20/km to 3:23/km. The pacemaker has been joined by Shobukhova, who is probably more responsible for the pace than the official pacemaker. Very confident way to run. Keitany and Kiplagat, the big Kenyan challengers are in the pack now.

Men at 5km in 14:34. Very fast, projecting a 2:02, but don’t get too excited – as we said for the women, the 4th kilometer is downhill so the first 5km are very quick. But it’s a good sign of aggressive running so far. 17 men in the lead group, excluding 5 pacemakers.

The front men’s group has now split, and of the five pacemakers, there are now only two in the front group. There was a plan for a second paced group to run for around 2:06 – 2:07 (compared to a 62 min through halfway for the first group), so they have now separated into the “hierarchies”. There are nine in the group at the front, excluding those two pacemakers.

Women at 20km, and the progressive decline in speed has continued – the last 5km were at 3:26/km, so it’s gotten slower by around 3sec/km since the start. The projection is now for 2:21:23, and given her finishing speed, this will suit Shobukhova nicely. Keitany may also enjoy the slower pace, given her half marathon credentials.

Shobukhova drives very hard through the halfway mark, which is reached in 1:10:37. That move didn’t achieve too much, maybe she was just testing the Kenyans behind her. Very aggressive, that’s a long way out to be driving at the front. She obviously feels good. Given how quick her finish is, it’s a bit surprising to see that early push. The pacemaker is gone, so now it’s a race.

Men at 10km, and it has slowed just a little, but that was expected. The last 5km were in 14:49, and the overall projected time is now 2:03:59, which happens to be the World Record. The 14:49 is a touch slower though, if they were to maintain that, they’ll do just inside 2:05. The next 10km will tell us…

Mary Keitany has come to the front of the women’s race now, and she’s the big danger. Shobukhova’s move has been the catalyst for an overall increase in the aggression of the race. The lead group is now seven, Keitany at the front and Shobukhova following her. Remember that Shobukhova ran the final 2.2km of Chicago faster than the men’s winner did, so she has serious speed at the end of the marathon. A race between her and the half-marathon record holder is a great prospect!

Keitany is actually about 4 m clear. She’s driving very hard. Shobukhova is gradually pulling the group back towards Keitany. It’s all happening very early in the women’s race. The 20-25km split will be very interesting. This pace is doing some serious damage to the group behind her, they’re in a long line and gaps are appearing everywhere! She’s surged again and opened a lead on Shobukhova.

Keitany has about 30 m on the chasers now. And Shobukhova is no longer doing the leading in the chase group. This is a serious move, it’s opened the race up completely! This is the kind of racing not seenin women’s marathon running.

At 25km, Keitany is six seconds clear. Her last 5km was in 16:09, the fastest of the race and that’s what has done the damage. The group behind are split and this is the race’s big move. Kiplagat is chasing, followed by Kebede, Bekele and Shobukhova, who started the racing at halfway and now being severely tested!

The men are at 15km in 44:26, having covered the last 5km in 15:03. That will disappoint the race organizers, having asked for a 62 at halfway. The pace is considerably slower than that now, and so any thoughts of the world record are fading fast.

Around 28km, and Shobukhova has moved into second, but Keitany has a gap of maybe 30 seconds. She’s out of sight as they go through a twisty section and Keitany is looking superb, so fluid. The only danger for Keitany now is the distance and whether she’ll pay for this surge. The pace hasn’t slowed behind, and so Keitany is still holding a pace of around 3:15/km, which is incredible running. Last year’s winning time was 2:21:59 by Shobukhova, this should be substantially faster.

Keitany has reached 30 km in 1:39:11, with a last 5km of 16:01, so she’s actually gotten even faster! It’s extra-ordinary front running. And while it’s not entirely unchartered territory, to move this far out in only your second major marathon is exceptional running. The projected time has now dropped to 2:19:30, and the way Keitany is running, even 2:18 is not out of the question. The gap to the chasing Shobukhova & co is 33 seconds, and so they’re running 16:25 for the last 5km, which is good pace, but Keitany is soaring at the front!

The men at 20km, and the pace is still pretty slow. 15:03 for the last 5km, and so that’s 30:06 from 10km to 20km. And that’s not what the agreed pace was. The halfway split is 62:44, and the commentators are projecting 2:05:30. That’s a bit misleading, because the first 5km was so quick.

The truth is that given the last 10km, unless the pace picks up, they’ll run around 2:06:20.  Interesting to see how the racing in the second half affects this. Expect it to get quicker, but the sub 2:05 is looking out of reach for now. It’ll take serious racing to bring them under that barrier.

All the main protagonists are there. Mo Trafeh has dropped off, 14 seconds down at halfway, but he was running above himself to be there, and now will try to settle one something around 2:07 pace. The lead group is 10 men, Makau, Kebede, Lel, Kwambai and Gharib are all still in that group.

Keitany has hit 35km, and the pace is still strong, though understandably has slowed somewhat. The last 5km were covered in 16:14. The lead has grown – Shobukhova and Kiplagat are now 1:09 behind, so she’s opened up another 36 seconds in the last 5km! She’s unlikely to be coming back and marathon running has a new star!

The men have increased the pace, and at 25km, they’re speeding up again. The last 5km were in 14:47, which is 2:57/km pace and brings the projected time down. The group is still 10 deep, one pacemaker there. Kebede and Makau paying closer attention now.

Keitany through 40km in 2:12:07, so she has slowed – the last 5km has been covered at 3:20/km. The gap to Shobukhova, who is now clear in second, is 1:07, so that hasn’t changed since the 35km mark (it was 1:09 then. She’ll break 2:20 as well, comfortably – right now it’s projected at 2:19:22, so expect 2:19:30-something.

The men are at 30km – 1:29:20, and it’s just outside 15 for the last 5km. So again, slower than we all thought it would be. Martin Lel is still there, and looking so smooth. If his training was not quite geared towards London, it’ll start to tell soon. But if he’s there at 40km, then his finishing ability (assuming three years haven’t eroded it) will be hard to match.

The race has now begun though, the pacemaker is gone and the big guns are to the front. The elite group is down to six men – Mutai, Kebede, Lel, Makau, dos Santos.

Keitany wins! 2:19:19! Women’s marathon running has a new superstar! Whenever a super quick half-marathon athlete steps up, you expect great things, and Keitany is a fearsome half marathon athlete, so she is delivering on her promise now! She’ll be a big favourite in London next year, and the rest of the world will have taken notice!

Shobukhova coming in second with a super quick finish, she’ll run a PB in 2:20:15 and a great run, but put into the shade by an amazing performance from Mary Keitany.

And now we get to see the rest of the women finish while the men’s race is being decided. This happens every year. Let’s see who finishes 18th in the women’s race, forget the men’s winners…

The men’s race is on!  Mutai is pushing the pace and it’s Martin Lel following! Lel is there, and challenging. Kebede is in third, Makau in fourth, but gapped from the front three just slightly, and we’re coming up to 35 km.

No wait, we’re going to see the women again. We’ll wait for Jo Pavey, I’m sure. I appreciate the local interest, of course, but this is a lot like having a car dealership and putting the Ferraris and Porsches in the back, with the Toyotas and Volkswagens out front. This is a global event, they need to cater to it – you can’t grow the sport by “hiding” the superstars. Very ordinary.

Ok, she’s done now for the love of marathon running, can we PLEASE see the men’s race! No? Ok, let’s stick with the 20th best women for a little longer, and NOT watch the men… London, you have truly outdone yourself this year.

Oh, there is a men’s race after all.  They’re at 35km, and Emmanuel Mutai is clear. He covered the last 5km in 14:26, an exceptional surge in pace. That was enough to drop Lel, who was “last man standing”, and Mutai is 20 seconds clear! That gap was created very quickly – at 32 km, they were together, and so Lel may have hit something of a wall.

This is the race’s decisive move, with mile splits of 4:30 and 4:31 (2:47 per kilometer for 3km). Lel is second, 20 seconds down at 35km, and Makau a second back of him. The pre-race favourite, Tsegay Kebede, who spoke a good game of a world record before the race, has been pushed right back. At 35km, he’s 36 seconds down in 5th place. In fourth is Dos Santos of Brazil, but we’ll get a much clearer picture at 40km in a few minutes’ time.

From the camera shots, no one will catch Mutai, he has clear road behind and ahead, and he’ll win this race with about 12 minutes to go. Meanwhile, we’ll switch back to the women, and watch the women finishing in 2:38 or slower. And we’ll stay with these pictures, to see a 2:41 marathon runner, while the elite men running 2:05 are ignored. Go London coverage! It’s not difficult to split the feeds, the international feed can easily be separated from what is shown locally.

Mutai at 40km, and the time is 1:58:05, and Mutai is flying! He’s going to break the course record, and run one of the fastest marathons in history! And that’s off the back of a relatively conservative period from 5km to 30km – 62:44 at halfway, and the section 5km to 30km was run at 2:06:11 pace. So Mutai is going to go under 62 minutes for the second half!

Exceptional running! Martin Lel has hung in there and is second, 53 seconds down, with Makau just behind him in third. Makau will probably catch him. That means that Lel and Makau have maintained the pace and are on course for around 2:05:30, which is exactly what the halfway split predicted. So Mutai has been the man to emerge from the pack today with an outrageously fast second half. His last 5km were covered in 14:19, following on from a 14:26, and that’s 2:52/km.

Mutai has won in 2:04:40, making him the fourth fastest man in history, behind Gebrselassie, Kibet and Kwambai (Geb has run faster twice, incidentally). It’s a course record, and it’s been achieved with a second half of 61:56, which is super quick. The final 12km, incidentally, from 30km, were covered in 35:20, which is 2:54 pace, or a 2:02 marathon!

Martin Lel has won a sprint for second in 2:05:45, and that is an exceptional comeback from the multiple London champion. Makau is third only a second behind, and dos Santos has finished fourth. Tsegay Kebede, meanwhile, has finished fifth in 2:07:47. That’s pretty disappointing for him, given the pre-race talk and his last few performances. It’s made more so by the fact that the halfway split of 62:44 was not that quick, so his second half was 65:03, which he’ll be disappointed with. A bad day at the office.

The pacing – only one faster second half

An interesting note on pacing – the halfway split was reached in 62:44, which predicts at 2:05:28. And so the only elite athlete in the race to negative split was Mutai. That’s unusual, but what’s more amazing is the size of his negative split, compared to the positive split in some of the other elites.

For example, Mutai’s difference was 62:44 – 61:56, a 48 second differential faster! Lel and Makau ran the second half in 62:51, so 7 seconds slower. dos Santos was 63:50 or 66 seconds slower, and Kebede ran his second half 2:19 slower (65:03 vs 62:44).

So a race of attrition for all but the top 3, and especially for Mutai, who aided by his final 12km in 2:54/km was absolutely exceptional. The large spread across the top 8 was the result of Mutai’s amazing surge, combined with a big drop-off in pace by almost everyone else. One would not have thought that the men finishing in 5th or lower would run 65 minutes for the second half…


This post is part of the thread: Marathon Analysis – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.