Martin Lel of Kenya won the London Marathon for the third time in four years Sunday, setting a course record in the rain and wind on a route that detoured because of a gas leak on a road just over Tower Bridge.
Irina Mikitenko of Germany captured the women's race in only her second attempt at the distance.
Lel outsprinted Sammy Wanjiru to win in a personal best of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 15 seconds. The two Kenyans and Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco had pulled away at 23 miles.
Lel, who also won in 2005 and '07, finished nine seconds ahead of Wanjiru. Goumri was third in 2:05:30 and Ryan Hall was fifth in 2:06:17, the third fastest time for an American.
This was the first time the top three in a marathon finished under 2:06 and the first time in the last 4 1/2 years anyone had run under 2:06 apart from world-record holder Haile Gebrselassie.
"I think what happened today makes me confident of breaking the world record," Lel said. "Despite the wind and rain, we ran a fast time."
The race marked the 100th anniversary of the modern marathon distance. The 26 miles, 385 yards was first run at the 1908 London Olympics, from Windsor Castle to White City.
Mikitenko broke away after 24 miles to win in 2:24:14. She beat Svetlana Zakharova by 25 seconds, with Gete Wami third in 2:25:37. Wami had to make up nine seconds after falling at a drinks station and was limping after she crossed the line.
"I would have liked to run faster. That is why I pushed the pace, because I felt I could run under 2 hours, 24 (minutes)," Mikitenko said. "But, of course, I'm delighted to win."
The detour added two or three yards to the course. It's the first time in the 27 years of the race the course was altered during the run. Organizers said the health of the runners was not affected by the gas leak.
Halfway though the race, the leading men were timed in 61:12 minutes, well inside world-record pace. There were 11 men in that group, including Lel, Emmanuel Mutai, Hendrick Ramaala, Felix Limo Deriba Merga, Samuel Wanjiru, Hall and two pacesetters.
But the fast pace took its toll, with Ramaala, Limo and Hall dropping off at 18 miles, when the two pacesetters also withdrew. Hall ran strongly to claw back nine seconds and rejoin the group by the 21st mile.
Khalid Khannouchi holds the two fastest times overall for an American_ 2:05:38 to take the 2002 London Marathon, which was the previous course record, and 2:05:56 to win in Chicago in the same year.
The leading group dropped off world-record pace in the last 6 miles, hampered by rain. The race produced the best times in a marathon for third, fourth, fifth and sixth.
Mikitenko ran her first marathon in September, when she finished second to Wami in Berlin.
She made her first move at 15 miles, joining a breakaway group containing Wami, Berhane Adere and Souad Ait Salem. They were later joined by Ludmila Petrova, Salina Kosgei and Zakharova.
Wami tripped over a fallen Ait Salem just before the 18-mile mark at Canary Wharf. Wami recovered to make up time and rejoin the pack as Ait Salem fell back.
"I fell on my face," Wami said. "The first thing I did was feel my teeth as I felt like my teeth fell out."
Mikitenko then pulled away at 21 miles, taking Wami and Zakharova with her. Zakharova earned a place on Russia's marathon team for the Beijing Olympics.
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