LONDON • After losing the PR war against one distance legend during the week, Mo Farah found himself humbled by another as he trudged home in fifth place behind in a London Marathon for the ages.
Eliud Kipchoge cemented his claim to be considered the greatest runner over 42.195km by winning yesterday's race for a fourth time in 2hr 2min 37sec - not only a new course record but also the second-fastest time in marathon history.
Only the Kenyan himself has run faster, of course, with his world record in Berlin last year.
Kipchoge had told his camp that he was going to attack after the halfway mark - and he was as good as his word, leaving Farah in no man's land in the final third of the race as a personal best slipped away from him.
The 34-year-old's victory was secured only in the final 3.2km as he shook off the Ethiopian Mosinet Geremew, who was second in 2:02:55, and Geremew's compatriot Mule Wasihun, who was third and a 19 seconds further back.
Kipchoge was delighted after securing his 12th victory in his 13 career marathons.
The London Marathon victory yesterday was Eliud Kipchoge's 12th win in 13 marathons. It was also his fourth in the event.
"I am happy to make history by winning this race four times," he said. "And to see this race raise £1 billion (S$1.76 billion) for charity."
Asked where he would run next, he replied: "As usual, I do not chase two rabbits, I chase only one and that was London. I have caught that rabbit, so I will discuss with my team what follows."
Farah, meanwhile, ended a difficult few days by finishing over three minutes back in 2:05.39, after slowing down markedly in the final 4.8km.
He had insisted that he arrived looking for the win. Instead, he got a brutal reality check.
"I felt great early on," said Farah. "My aim was to follow the pacemaker and I was OK at halfway, but it got away from me.
"I hoped to reel them back but, once the pacemaker dropped back from the 32km mark, the wheels came off and I was just hanging there to be honest."
The 36-year-old's build-up to the race was overshadowed by an extraordinary row with Haile Gebrselassie over an alleged robbery in a hotel owned by the Ethiopian great.
Farah was gracious in defeat, hailing Kipchoge as a "special athlete".
"Kipchoge's time was incredible," he said. "He's humble and a nice guy, but I am definitely disappointed.
"The spat (with Gebrselassie) didn't distract me, I was concentrating on the race. What I said is the truth - I didn't mean to take any limelight away from the sport."
Understandably, Farah refused to commit to what he planned to do at September's world championships, where he could run either the marathon or the 10,000m.
"At the moment, my brain is all over the place," he added.
"I am going to have a chat with my coach and my agent and have a step back. I think for me I want to do a marathon.
"I gave it my all, I was aiming to run a low 2:04, but that is what it is."
There was also a Kenyan winner in the women's race, with Brigid Kosgei going one better than last year in London to lead the field in a time of 2:18:20.
Victory saw Kosgei, at the age of 25 years and 67 days, become the youngest winner of the women's race, breaking the London record of Aselefech Mergia (25 years and 92 days) set in 2010.
Kosgei's compatriot, Vivian Cheruiyot, was second. The latter had beaten Kosgei to finish first in London last year.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE