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Richard Heathcoate/PA Shura Kitata won the London Marathon after a thrilling sprint finish.
# London Calling
Stephen Scullion takes more than two minutes off marathon PB to finish 11th in London
Eliud Kipchoge’s reign came to a shock end as Shura Kitata won the London Marathon.

STEPHEN SCULLION RAN the second-fastest marathon time in Irish athletics history as he smashed his personal best by over two minutes in London.

Scullion clocked a time of 2:09:49 to finish 11th, only 34 seconds slower than John Treacy’s time at the Boston Marathon in 1988.

The Belfast native — who had already met the Tokyo Olympic qualification standard when he ran 2:11:52 in Houston in January — comfortably bettered that mark in the London rain.

Dublin’s Mick Clohisey finished 28th in a time of 02:18:52, well outside his PB of 2:13:19.

The headlines and the glory went to Shura Kitata as Eliud Kipchoge’s reign as the king of the London Marathon came to a shock end.

In a stunning upset Kipchoge, who had won all of his previous four London Marathons and had not lost over the distance in seven years, dropped alarmingly off the pace around the 22-mile mark.

Kipchoge, the 35-year-old world record holder, had no answer as a seven-strong lead group edged away from him, and he ended up finishing down in eighth.

Instead the title was up for grabs and it was Ethiopian Kitata who snatched it in 2:05:41, pipping Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba on the line after a thrilling sprint finish.

A faster race was predicted due to the nature of the course – 19.7 laps of St James’s Park rather than the traditional street route – but the incessant rain and autumnal temperatures put paid to that.

With Kipchoge’s great rival Kenenisa Bekele, the second fastest marathon runner in history, missing through injury the stage looked set for a fifth victory for the Kenyan superstar.

But despite the slow pace he came up short and Kitata took full advantage, as Kipchoge was beaten for the first time since he came second in Berlin in 2013.

Kipchoge revealed afterwards that he had a problem with his right ear which hampered his race and ultimately cost him the chance of another win.

“I’m very disappointed but, all in all, this is sport,” he said. “I got a blocked ear the over last 15km. I tried to keep going and make sure I finished, to show there is always hope in the world. It’s not the end of the world that I can’t win.

“It’s not suicide. This is sport and we need to embrace ourselves. I want to congratulate the top finishers for bringing hope to the streets of London at this time of Covid-19.”

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This year’s competitors pounded just four streets of London rather than the traditional route from Blackheath to Buckingham Palace, with no crowds and no fun runners due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The home straight remained the same, down The Mall, and it staged a nailbiter as Kitata got the better of Kipchumba by a second.

Kitata revealed he had taken the advice of Bekele, who was runner-up last year.

He said: “I prepared very well for this race, kept my concentration. Kenenisa trained me and advised how I should run this race. I trained for the same course. I am very happy to win the race.”

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