Australian Kurt Fearnley won his first London title in style beating the best field the wheelchair race has seen in many years. The Paralympic gold medallist was in great form to take Briton David Weir's 2008 title as well as his 2006 course record.
The weather conditions were perfect this morning, so expectations were high for a competitive race. Both Fearnley and Weir are experts in marathon sprint finishes and were involved in last year's seven-man title challenge, with Weir victorious. A few miles into this year's race, that looked likely again.
Weir and South African Ernst Van Dyk broke away early from the leading pack. By seven miles, they were joined by Fearnley and Heinz Frei from Switzerland for what looked like it was going to be a four-man race.
At half way all four were on pace to beat Weir's 1:29:48 course record. Nearly forty seconds behind were Japan's Masazumi Soejima and the French former champion Denis Lemeunier.
Marathon world record holder 51-year-old Heinz Frei was unfortunate to drop back from the leaders at the 20-mile stage. Weir, Van Dyk and Fearnley were all going to challenge for the number one spot.
As the three came round the finishing corner with 600m to go, Van Dyk was ahead. However, with top sprinters Fearnley and Weir behind they were the likely ones to challenge the lead and overtook him on the straight.
Fearnley crossed the line in a new course record of 1:28:56, with Weir just one second behind. Monday's Boston winner Van Dyk finished in 1.28. 59.
After the race, all were reflective on their own race tactics. Fearnley and Weir have had a competitive last 12 months and clashed on the track at the Beijing Paralympics.
Weir hasn't competed since the 1500m final in Beijing, where he won his second gold medal of the Games.
The 28-year-old Fearnley finished second in the last two London Marathons behind Weir so was overjoyed with the triumph.
"It was a really good finish," he said. "I haven't been in too many marathons where the finish was that close.
"David was a tough challenger, but I was never going to let him get away with that. When it came to the last 200 metres, I kept thinking about the finish and pushed really hard. It's been a hard last four month training but it came good in the end".
Second placed Weir said his lack of training after Beijing was one of the reasons for the defeat.
"It wasn't too bad a result as I have only been back in my chair in the last two months," he said.
"I had a break after Beijing and I have had limited amounts of training. All of these guys are doing marathons every other week. I can only do two in a year. At the end I didn't have a little bit extra to fight for the win."
Soejima finished fourth (1:30:13) and Frei fifth (1:30:16) while another Briton, Brian Alldis, who is trained by past London Marathon winner Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, came a creditable 10th in 1:40:15.
Flora London Marathon, 26th April 2009