Peres Jepchirchir won the 2024 London Marathon in a new women's only world record. GETTY IMAGES

Ethiopia's Tigst Assefa was the main headliner as she eyed her first London Marathon win, but Peres Jepchirchir stole the show on Sunday by breaking the seven-year-old women's only world record. The Olympic champion surged clear in the closing stages to win in two hours, 16 minutes and 16 seconds.

The Kenyan held off three of the fastest women in history to take victory, crossing the line seven seconds ahead of Assefa with another Kenyan, Joyciline Jepkosgei, in third. Last year's runner-up Megertu Alemu was fourth having been the first to drop back as the pace increased approaching the finish.

Jepchirchir suffered her first marathon defeat in six races when she finished third behind Sifan Hassan in London 12 months ago. This time, the 30-year-old came out on top as she took 45 seconds off Mary Keitany's women's-only world record of 2:17:01 set at the 2017 London Marathon.

Her superior finishing speed proved decisive as she finished over four minutes outside Assefa's absolute world record from last September's Berlin Marathon recorded alongside male pacemakers.

"I am feeling grateful. I am so happy for the victory," said Jepchirchir afterwards. "I was not expecting to run a world record. I knew it might be beat but I did not expect it to be me. I knew the history and the ladies were strong. I was working extra hard. My time was lower but I've come good today and set a PB. When I was at 40km, I said, ‘Let’s relax. And then at 41km I would accelerate or wait until 600m.'"

Jepchirchir told reporters afterwards that she was even more delighted as this was the last race that Kenyan selectors would take into account when picking the team for Paris 2024. She added, "I am so happy to qualify for the Olympics and I feel grateful. I'm happy to be at Paris and run well to defend my title. I know it won't be easy but I'll try my best."

In the men’s elite race, Alexander Mutiso Munyao completed a Kenyan double by winning in 2:04:01. Track legend Kenenisa Bekele, at 41 years of age, was the only man able to stay with Munyao in the closing 10km but finished 14 seconds adrift in second. Emile Cairess of Great Britain was third.

A three-time Olympic gold medallist on the track, Bekele was on course for his first win in London but Munyao proved too strong in the closing kilometres. "At 40km I got some pressure from Bekele, but I had a lot of confidence because I trained for this race," said Munyao. “I thought I had enough energy. That's why I kicked and I knew I would win."

Alexander Mutiso Munyao, from Kenya, won the 2024 London Marathon. GETTY IMAGES
Alexander Mutiso Munyao, from Kenya, won the 2024 London Marathon. GETTY IMAGES 

The 27-year-old also paid tribute to world record holder and 2023 winner Kelvin Kiptum, whose sudden death in February sent shockwaves through the sport and, most painfully, his home country of Kenya. "I think about him and let him rest in peace. He came here in London and he won," Munyao said.