Kenya’s Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge produced a great masterpiece virtually from start to finish, winning his third London Marathon title in 2 hours, 04 minutes and 17 seconds on Sunday.
Kipchoge, 33, dropped off Ethiopian Tola Shura Kitata just after the 37km mark before engaging the final gear to seal his ninth career marathon victory.
Kipchoge, who won the 2016 London Marathon in a course record 2:03:05, was eying to break the World Record time of 2:02:57 but failed in his quest.
Kitata, who won Rome and Frankfurt Marathon last year, finished second in career best 2:04:49 as home athlete Mo Farah came in third also in personal best 2:06:32.
The 2009 and 2011 World marathon champion Abel Kirui from Kenya settled fourth in 2:07:07 followed by compatriot Bedan Karoki in 2:08:34.
The 2016 Berlin Marathon champion Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia sunk to sixth in 2:08:53, while defending champion Daniel Wanjiru finished eighth in 2:10:35.
Kipchoge, who won his maiden London Marathon in 2015 in 2:04:42, got to earn the winners prize purse of Sh 5.5 million and an additional Sh 10million for running sub 2:05:00.
"I came to London to run a beautiful race and today I ran a really beautiful race," said Kipchoge. "Thank you, London."
Kitata pocket Sh 3 million for his second place and an additional Sh 10 million for running under 2:05.
Farah got Sh 2.29m but missed out on the bonus package.
The British track great, who won gold in the 5,000 metres and 10,000m in the past two Olympic Games, admitted his second full marathon had taken its toll in a race where there was a world record pace at the halfway point.
"I am knackered," said the 35-year-old, who broke the British marathon record.
"The guys went for it, they were on for world record pace, so it was do or die. I went with it and hung in as much as I could.
"It's so different to the track. It's incredible. It's different pain, different training but I've really enjoyed it. I gave it all, 110 per cent as I normally do."
Kipchoge completed yet another sweep for Kenya with track queen Vivian Cheruiyot having won the women’s race minutes earlier in personal best 218:31.
Cheruiyot, the 2017 Frankfurt Marathon champion and 2011 World 10,000m and 5,000m champion, also pocketed Sh 5.5million but missed out on Sh 10 million after she failed to run inside 2:18:00.
Kipchoge becomes the third person to complete a hat trick of victories in London after Portuguese António Pinto (1992, 1997, and 2000) and Kenyan Martin Lel (2005, 2007, and 2008).
Kipchoge led a pack of seven just behind four pacesetters as they passed through 5km and 15km in 13:48 and 43:05 minutes respectively. The explosive race started to shape well with the Olympic champion in command.
It was a thriller with most athletes looking quite comfortable as Kipchoge once again led the pack through half way in 1:01:01 and within the World Record time.
The 2015 World Champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie was the first casualty of the brutal fast pace race, leaving just after halfway.
Kipchoge dragged Farah and Kitata along to hit the 25km mark in 1:12:51 with Karoki in hot pursuit as Bekele started top wobble.
Kipchoge pulled away at the 30km mark but failed to shake off Kitata, who matched his steps as Farah started to fade away.
With the World Record hopes having diminished, it’s after Kipchoge hit the 37km mark at 1:48:50 that he dropped Kitata to take commanded for the better part of the race. Kipchoge hit 40km mark in 1:57:35 before going on to seal in ninth marathon career victory.
Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 2:04:17
Tola Shura Kitata (ETH) 2:04:49
Mo Farah (GBR) 2:06:32
Abel Kirui, (KEN) 2:07:07
Bedan Karoki (KEN) 2:08:34
Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 2:08:53
Lawrence Cherono (KEN) 2:09:25
Daniel Wanjiru (KEN) 2:10:35
Amanuel Mesel (ERI) 2:11:52
Yohanes Gebregergish (ERI) 2:12:09