Kenyans sweep Bos­ton Marathon

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY JIMMY GOLEN

BOS­TON | The Kenyans are back in Bos­ton after a rel­a­tive lull that saw them shut out in the world’s most pres­ti­gious marathon twice in the past three years.

More sur­pris­ingly, so are the Amer­i­cans.

Ge­of­frey Kirui won the 121st Bos­ton Marathon on Mon­day, pulling away from three-time U.S. Olympian Galen Rupp with two miles to go to give Kenya its first men’s vic­tory in five years. Edna Ki­pla­gat won the women’s race to com­plete the Kenyan sweep.

They were fol­lowed closely by Amer­i­cans who grabbed two of the top four women’s spots and six of the top ten for men — the first time that’s hap­pened since the race went pro­fes­sional in 1986.

“It’s so ex­cit­ing to see Amer­i­cans be­ing com­pet­i­tive here,” said Rupp, the Olympic bronze medal­ist who was mak­ing his Bos­ton de­but. “It’s a real ex­cit­ing time. And it’s awe­some to see Amer­i­can dis­tance run­ning on the up­swing and be­ing com­pet­i­tive in these races.”

Kirui finished in 2 hours, 9 min­utes, 37 sec­onds to claim a sil­ver tro­phy, a guilded olive wreath from Marathon, Greece, and the $150,000 first prize. Rupp was 21 sec­onds back, and Ja­pan’s Suguru Osako 30 sec­onds be­hind him.

Round­ing out the top 10 were run­ners from Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona, Colorado, Ore­gon and Utah.

“Amer­i­can dis­tance run­ning is look­ing good to­day,” said sixth-place fin­isher Abdi Ab­di­rah­man, a So­mali im­mi­grant and Tuc­son res­i­dent who is a four-time Olympian. “We have the podium for both men and women, so the fu­ture is great.”

Ki­pla­gat finished in 2:21:52 to win her Bos­ton de­but, adding the vic­tory to two world cham­pi­onships and wins in Lon­don, New York and Los An­ge­les. She pulled ahead of Rose Che­limo of Bahrain in the New­ton hills to win by 59 sec­onds.

Amer­i­can Jor­dan Hasay, mak­ing her first run at the 26.2-mile dis­tance, was third and Desi Lin­den was fourth — the first time since 1991 that two U.S. women have finished in the top four.

“It keeps hap­pen­ing. We keep get­ting closer. We’re putting more num­bers in there and it’s just a mat­ter of time,” said Lin­den, the 2011 run­ner-up by 2 sec­onds. “When Amer­i­cans break the tape, it’s go­ing to be a big deal here.”

Kenya had won ei­ther the men’s or women’s race ev­ery year since 1991 be­fore be­ing shut out in 2014 and again last year. In fact, Kenya had taken both ti­tles six times since 2000, so dom­i­nat­ing the top 10 that Boyl­ston Street be­gan to look like a Great Rift Val­ley train­ing run.

But Ethiopia has sur­passed its East African neigh­bors on Pa­tri­ots’ Day the past four years, earn­ing its first sweep in 2016. Then, in De­cem­ber, Kenyan Rita Jep­too was stripped of her 2014 ti­tle for fail­ing a drug test and it was handed in­stead to Ethiopia’s Buzunesh Deba.

For Kirui, even when he was run­ning shorter dis­tances, he had his eye on Bos­ton.

“In my mind, I was sure that one day I would win this race,” said Kirui, 25, who was run­ning just his third marathon. “To come here to Bos­ton, I knew I was go­ing to face my col­leagues who have run many times here . ... I knew I would chal­lenge some of the champions who have been com­pet­ing here.”

The Amer­i­can drought reached more than three decades from the time Greg Meyer won in 1983 un­til Meb Ke­flezighi ran down Boyl­ston Street to rau­cous chants of “U-S-A!” in 2014, the year after the fin­ish line bomb­ings killed three peo­ple and wounded more than 260 oth­ers. (No U.S. woman has won since 1985.)

Ke­flezighi, 41, said he plans to en­ter the New York Marathon, which he won in 2009, one last time in the fall be­fore re­tir­ing. In his last com­pet­i­tive Bos­ton run, he finished 13th in 2:17:00 de­spite pain in his quad mus­cles.

“The crowd got me through the fin­ish line,” he said.

Also run­ning on Mon­day was Ben Beach, who com­pleted the race for an un­prece­dented 50th time in a row. And Kathrine Switzer, wear­ing the same bib num­ber — 261 — that she wore when she en­tered the all-male race 50 years ago, us­ing only her ini­tials, K.V.

The warm tem­per­a­tures that hit 79 de­grees at the 20-kilo­me­ter mark in Nat­ick slowed the run­ners, but the strong tail­wind was a boost — es­pe­cially in the wheel­chair races.

Mar­cel Hug won Bos­ton for the third time, out­push­ing 10-time cham­pion Ernst Van Dyk down Boyl­ston Street and fin­ish­ing in 1:18:04 to beat the course record and world best by 21 sec­onds. Fel­low Swiss Manuela Schar shat­tered the women’s mark by more than five min­utes, win­ning in 1:28:17.

The win­ners’ times on the point-to­point Bos­ton course are con­sid­ered a world best and not a world record be­cause of the pos­si­bil­ity of a sup­port­ive tail­wind like the one on Mon­day.

“The wind is so im­por­tant,” Hug said. “The roads were good. Ev­ery­thing was fan­tas­tic to­day.”

Ear­lier Mon­day, city of­fi­cials an­nounced plans for me­mo­ri­als to mark the sites where two bombs ex­ploded dur­ing the 2013 race.

Also in the field was Bos­ton Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Wil­liam Evans, who ran for the 18th time in 2013 but has skipped the races since the bomb­ings so he could be avail­able in case of another emer­gency. Evans, who com­pleted his 52nd marathon over­all, said he wanted to show that Bos­ton is back to nor­mal.

“If I can come back,” he said, “ev­ery­one can.”


Kenyans Edna Ki­pla­gat and Ge­of­frey Kirui hold a tro­phy to­gether after their vic­to­ries in the 121st Bos­ton Marathon on Mon­day.

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