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Double delight for Kenya in the biggest ever London Marathon

22 April 2012

A record number of runners finished the Virgin London Marathon today as Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany completed a classy Kenyan double in the elite races while British stars David Weir and Shelly Woods raced to victory in the wheelchair contests.

British Olympic legend Dorothy Tyler set 37,227 on their way from Greenwich this morning, a record number of starters, after 37,542 had registered to run by close of play on Saturday from more than 50,000 accepted applicants. By 7.20pm this evening, 36,705 had crossed the finish line in The Mall beating the previous record of 36,550 from 2010.

Fastest of all was Wilson Kipsang who missed the course record on his London debut by just four seconds while Keitany became the quickest African of all time as she retained her women's title with a re-run of her sparkling solo win from 12 months' ago.

Kipsang came to London as the second fastest man in history and he stamped his authority on a high-quality field with two bold surges in the second half of the race. Breaking free after 20 miles, he crossed the line more than two minutes clear in 2:04:44.

"I am so sorry I didn't ditch the record but winning is the most important thing for me," said Kipsang after Prince Harry had presented him with his winner's trophy.

Martin Lel completed a Kenyan one-two as he repeated his runner-up place from 2011. The 33-year-old crossed the line in 2:06:51, winning a sprint finish by a second from Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede.

Keitany kicked away from four compatriots in the last four miles of the women's race to clock 2:18:37, moving to third on the world all-time list. She finished 10 seconds inside Catherine Ndereba's 11-year-old Kenyan record and was more than a minute ahead of world champion Edna Kiplagat who broke 2:20 for the first time to take second.

World silver medallist Priscah Jeptoo completed a Kenyan sweep of the medals - the first ever in the women's race.

"I'm so delighted to win for the second time in London," said Keitany. "I knew I could run 2:18 but to break Catherine's national record is special for me."

It was a double day of doubles in the elite races as Weir and Woods dominated the wheelchair events in contrasting styles.

Weir produced a superb sprint finish to win his sixth wheelchair title and equal the London record of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, while Woods dominated the women's race to regain the crown she won in 2007.

Weir won by a second from Switzerland's Marcel Hug in 1:32:26 while Woods out-pushed a high-class women's field to take victory in 1:49:10, almost four minutes ahead of Japan's Wakako Tsuchida.

Behind the stars, thousands of Guinness World Record chasers, fun runners and fancy dress fundraisers enjoyed the cool cloudless conditions to push themselves towards their personal goals.

Among the masses of personal triumphs on a day that clouded and dampened in the afternoon were 29 Guinness World Records, including the fastest book character, a frightening 2:42:17 for David Stone dressed as Dracula; the fastest jester a hardly laughable 3:01:56 for Alexander Scherz; and the fastest Roman soldier, a more-than-marching 2:57:00 from David Tomlin.

As usual, many turned out in outlandish costumes and many thousands more ran to raise millions for hundreds of charities.

An emotional Nell McAndrew was the quickest celebrity, the model running a truly speedy time of 2:54:39, just ahead of the Olympic medal-winning rowers, Steve Williams and James Cracknell, who also broke the three-hour barrier.

Tony Audenshaw was again the best of the soap stars in 3:36:51 while BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth made it to the line safely in a highly creditable 3:56:42. Former Doctor Who Chris Ecclestone finished in 4:17:43 while Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was more than an hour later in 5:31:48.

Cara Kilby was the best of the TOWIEs, The Only Way is Essex star crossing the line in a weary 5:47:45, nearly a quarter of an hour ahead of co-stars James Argent and Billi Mucklow.

Thirty people were taken to hospital compared to 68 in 2011.

The ballot to enter the 2013 Virgin London Marathon opens online on 30th April.

Go to www.virginlondonmarathon.com.