Evans Chebet and Hellen Obiri stormed to victory in the men’s and women’s races at the Boston Marathon on Monday to complete a third straight Kenyan double in the 127th edition of the long distance-running showpiece.
In rainy, cool conditions, defending men’s champion Chebet upstaged world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge to become the first man to defend the Boston title since Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot’s 2006-2008 hat trick.
Chebet finished in a time of 2hr 5min 54sec, with Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay second in 2:06:04, and Chebet’s training partner and fellow Kenyan Benson Kipruto third in 2:06:04.
But there was disappointment for two-time Olympic champion Kipchoge, widely regarded as the greatest marathon runner of all time, who had been who had been bidding to add the Boston crown to previous marathon victories in Berlin, Tokyo, London and Chicago.
Kenyan icon Kipchoge trailed home sixth in 2:09:23, around three-and-half-minutes adrift of Chebet.
The 38-year-old had looked perfectly poised through the opening and mid-stages of the race but was broken after a bold attack by Geay at around the 19-mile mark.
As the pack gave chase to Geay, Kipchoge was rapidly left behind and was soon nearly 100 meters off the pace.
Geay remained in the lead through 24 miles in a leading trio alongside Chebet and Kipruto.
But Chebet and Kipruto kicked on in the final two miles and Chebet led with a mile to go before pulling away to retain his crown.
“I’m happy because I know this course very well,” Chebet told ESPN following his win.
“I won last year, and now I’ve won this year — so maybe next year I’ll come back again.”
Obiri seals Kenya double
While Chebet was able to draw on his experience from last year to master Monday’s course, Obiri pulled off a stunning victory in the women’s event in what was only her second ever marathon.
The 33-year-old has spent most of her career racing over shorter distances, winning two world championship gold medals in 2017 and 2019 over 5,000m, as well as silvers over the same distance at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.
Obiri, who only raced a marathon for the first time in New York last November where she placed sixth, kept her composure in a hard-fought race to win in 2hr 21min 38sec.
Ethiopia’s Amane Beriso was second in 2:21:50 while Israel’s Lonah Salpeter took third in 2:21:57.
It was a remarkable performance by Obiri, who only confirmed her participation in Boston last month following urging by her coach.
“First of all I didn’t want to come because my heart was somewhere else, but the coach told me ‘My heart says you should go for Boston,'” Obiri said afterwards.
“I said no, because it’s a strong field. But he said, ‘You’ve trained well, something tells me go to Boston.’ I’m very happy because it’s a surprise to me. But I was feeling like my body was ready, and everything was ready.”
Obiri bided her time before hitting the front with around half a mile to go, pumping her arms and driving her legs through the rain to drop the chasing pack.
“The coach told me that marathons are about patience, patience, patience until the last minute,” Obiri said. “So I just tried to be patient.”
In the wheelchair races, Switzerland’s Marcel Hug won his sixth Boston crown, smashing his own course record to win in 1:17:06.
In the women’s wheelchair race, Susannah Scaroni of the United States won in 1:41:45, overcoming a mechanical scare mid-race where she was forced to stop and repair a wheel.
Monday’s event took place 10 years after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that left three people dead and nearly 300 injured.
Boston Red Sox baseball icon David Ortiz — who famously gave a defiant rallying speech at Fenway Park in the aftermath of the 2013 atrocity — served as Grand Marshal on Monday.
The Boston bombing was carried out by two Chechen-Kyrgyzstani-Americans, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Tamerlan was killed following a shoot-out with police while Dzhokhar was captured and later sentenced to death after conviction at trial.
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