Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop won the 116th running of the B.A.A. Boston Marathon today (16) in 2:12:40 and 2:31:50, respectively. Times were slowed by unseasonably warm temperatures which led organizers to urge many entrants not to race, and cautioned those who persisted.
The B.A.A. Boston Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
MEN - Korir slows least
The men’s race broke apart in the Newton hills, as it so often does, after a large pack of fifteen trundled through a pedestrian 1:06:11 first half. Matthew Kisorio split the pack up in Newton, but cresting the last of the three climbs around 21 miles, it looked like Levy Matebo was going to be the last survivor of a race of attrition in the heat. Matebo, however, found himself overtaken at the 25th mile by Wesley Korir, who had run the hills more conservatively. Despite slowing significantly in the closing miles, Korir slowed less than the others, and when he passed Matebo the former leader had no response.
“At mile 20, they told me I was sixth,” said Korir, “and I saw the runners in front of me. I thought fifth in Boston would be good, so I passed him. Then I thought, fourth would be nice. I was not thinking of winning. [...] It just happened, one by one. It reminded me of the Chicago marathon.” In last autumn’s Chicago marathon, Korir finished second to Moses Mosop’s course record, also on a relatively warm day.
Korir’s winning time was the slowest men’s finishing time since 2007 (when strong rains and headwinds buffeted the runners).
Matebo held on to second place, coming in at 2:13:06, with Bernard Kipyego third in 2:13:13. American Jason Hartmann was fourth in 2:14:31, rolling up from seventh in the closing miles despite his towering height.
Defending champion Geoffrey Mutai claimed all along that winning was more important than a finishing time for his Boston result as he campaigns for Olympic selection, but the heat felled him as well; Mutai dropped out of the race at the 30km mark, citing stomach cramps, and received medical attention. “You cannot plan everything,” said Mutai. “I am still happy with my effort.” Mutai refused to speculate on how this performance would affect his chances of selection for the Kenyan Olympic team.
Gebre Gebremariam, the 2011 third-place finisher, also struggled, finishing 14th in 2:22:56.
WOMEN - Yet another close finish goes to Cherop
Sharon Cherop had been with the lead pack within half a kilometre of the finish in 2011, but was unable to hang on to the closing sprint of Caroline Kilel. This year, Cherop waited until the same place before kicking hard to dispatch Jemima Sumgong. Sumgong’s finish time of 2:31:52 made the fifth straight year in which the winning margin was three seconds or less.
“I am so happy,” Cherop said afterward. “Last year was so hard.”
Cherop clearly benefitted from her 2011 experience and left nothing to doubt when she finally committed to her sprint, leaving Sumgong well in her wake in the final half-mile.
The women’s field was weakened by the pre-race exits of Buzunesh Deba (citing a foot injury) and Galina Bogomolova. Cherop had her hands full, however, as Sumgong refused to be easily shaken, even once Cherop had delivered her decisive move.
Cherop did her share of the pacemaking from the beginning, often visible at the front of the large lead pack. Unlike the men, the women ran the second half of the race faster than the first, passing the halfway mark in 1:17:11.
Third went to Georgina Rono in 2:33:09; 2011 ING NYC Marathon champion Firehiwot Dado was fourth in 2:34:56; 2006 Boston winner Rita Jeptoo was sixth in 2:35:53.
Defending champion Caroline Kilel struggled as well, after leading into the hills, and was seen walking at the 40km mark. Kilel did not finish among the top 100 women.
Warmest Boston since 2004
Temperatures of 71 degrees Fahrenheit (22 C) were recorded at the Hopkinton start line at 9:00 AM, half an hour before the women’s start, with temperatures at the finish line reaching 79 F (26 C). It was the warmest Boston since 2004 when the race started at noon and temperatures along the course reached 84 F (29 C). (The winners that year were Timothy Cherigat in 2:10:37 and Catherine Ndereba in 2:24:27.)
The Boston Athletic Association, organizers of the race, contacted entrants several times in the days before the race, urging the under-prepared to consider leaving their race for 2013 and offering to defer entry spots to those willing to try again next year. Official numbers on those taking the deferred entries will not be known for months, but as many as two thousand runners may have opted to wait.
Parker Morse for the IAAF