A strong wind from the southwest coupled with cool temperatures provided a magic carpet ride today for athletes competing in the 115th Boston Marathon, culminating in the fastest Marathon ever run *. Close finishes in both the men's and women's contests only served to heighten the excitement surrounding America's oldest Marathon.
The Boston Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai had fans screaming on Boyleston Street as he won a two-man sprint by four seconds over Marathon debutant and compatriot Moses Mosop in the unlikely time of 2:03:02, fully 57 seconds under Haile Gebrselassie's World record of 2:03:59. Mutai, 29, who makes his own training programs and is self-coached, won't be credited with a new World record, however. Even without the tail wind, the Boston course has more than three times the elevation drop permitted for record-setting, and the start and finish have too great a separation.
Nonetheless, that a man could average 2:55 per kilometre (4:42 per mile), over the full Marathon distance of 42.195 km (26 miles, 385 yards) under any circumstances is astounding.
"It was at our back," Mutai said matter of factly about the wind. "But it wasn't such a big wind."
Instead, Mutai partially credited American Ryan Hall for his fast performance today. Hall, the USA Half-Marathon record holder, was the prime mover in the early kilometres and reinvigorated the pace nearly every time the race slowed on the hilly course from Hopkinton to Boston. Hall saw the lead pack through 5 km in 14:47, then 10 km in 29:05. By that time, the men had already banked a full minute against the 30:08 10-K split by course record holder Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, the defending champion.
"I want to congratulate him," Mutai said of Hall who clocked 2:04:58 to take fourth place just behind reigning ING New York City Marathon Champion Gebre Gebremariam (2:04:53). "He pushed it, he pushed it all the time. He was like a pacemaker; he helped us a lot."
By halfway (1:01:58) it was clear that Kiprono Cheruiyot's 2010 record of 2:05:52 would be shattered (he would finish sixth today). Remarkably the pace would quicken in the second half, despite several challenging hills, including Heart Break Hill in the 21st mile. Mutai broke away from the field blasting the 10 kilometres between 30-K and 40-K in an eye-popping 28:22. Only Mosop had the legs to catch up and contend for victory, but Mutai was confident that he had something left for the final sprint.
"It was then that I pushed it a little more in the finishing," said Mutai who ran the second half in a hard to believe 1:01:04.
Mutai earned a total of USD 225,000 in prize money and time bonuses, and his payday will ultimately be about twice that when his appearance fee, private bonuses, and shoe company bonuses are added in. Mutai, who trains in a hilly rural location about 30 kilometres from Eldoret, said he did not have any specific plans for his winnings, but said he would need the money for his future.
"Thank you for that question," he said when a reporter asked about the money. "For me, running cannot be for all the years of my life."
Davila almost gets home country win
Not since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach crossed the finish line first 26 years ago has an American woman won the Boston Marathon. Both Desiree Davila and Kara Goucher wanted to change that today, and Davila almost did.
After leading the race alone at a fast pace for nearly 30 kilometers, New Zealand's Kim Smith started to feel spasms in her calf muscles so severe that she began to skip and hop up and down. In the 29th kilometer, her nearly one minute lead was crumbling, and the pain was so severe she had to stop briefly. Right at 30-K, she was swallowed up by a chase pack of four women: Kenya's Sharon Cherop, Caroline Kilel and Alice Timbilili, and Ethiopia's Dire Tune. About 20 metres back Davila was stalking the lead group. Smith fell back and eventually abandoned the race, but Davila moved up and took over the lead.
"I was really just trying to keep contact," Davila explained. She added: "I felt like I could run with anyone today."
Timbilili, then Tune, fell back, leaving Davila, Cherop and Kilel in contention for the win. The three women came into Back Bay together, and a surge by Kilel dropped the tiring Cherop. Davila was determined, but hurting.
"The last 800 metres my legs were fried," she told reporters. I was trying, just trying, to keep contact. You are kind of bargaining with yourself."
The two traded surges, and the crowd roared for Davila.
"It was huge!" Davila said of the crowd support. "The last six miles of the race it was, 'USA, USA!'" She continued: "It just carried me the last six miles."
But the day would belong to Kilel. She made the final move inside of 200 metres, and Davila could not respond. The petite Kenyan clocked a personal best 2:22:36 before tumbling to the pavement in exhaustion. Davila followed two seconds later in 2:22:38, the fastest time ever by an American at Boston. Cherop came third four seconds later.
"I'm very happy because I won this Boston," said Kilel about an hour after her victory still looking a little shocked. "I love Boston."
Davila was thrilled, and she said she does not plan to run another Marathon until the USA Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston next January. "I was like the perfect race for me," she said. "I couldn't ask for anything more."
Goucher, who finished third here in 2009, finished fifth in a personal best 2:24:52. Although disappointed, she battled back from ninth position at 30-K to finish strongly.
"I felt like the race was very hard," said Goucher who gave birth to her first child, son Colt, last September. "It was a great first step. It was great to get a PR (personal record)."
Today's race had 26,964 entrants and 24,385 starters; finisher totals were still being tallied.
David Monti - Race Results Weekly - for the IAAF
* Due to the elevation drop and point-to-point measurements of the Boston course, performances are not eligible for World record consideration. Please refer to Section X, Rule 260.28 of the IAAF Competition Rules (page 234). (Link to PDF, 1.4 MB).
1. Geoffrey Mutai, KEN, 2:03:02
2. Moses Mosop, KEN, 2:03:06
3. Gebre Gebremariam, ETH, 2:04:53
4. Ryan Hall, USA, 2:04:58
5. Abreham Cherkos, ETH, 2:06:13
6. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, KEN, 2:06:43
7. Philip Kimutai Sanga, KEN, 2:07:10
8. Deressa Chimsa, ETH, 2:07:39
1. Caroline Cheptonui Kilel, KEN, 2:22:36
2. Desiree Davila, USA, 2:22:38
3. Sharon Cherop, KEN, 2:22:42
4. Caroline Rotich, KEN, 2:24:26
5. Kara Goucher, USA, 2:24:52
6. Dire Tune, ETH, 2:25:08
7. Werknesh Kidane, ETH, 2:26:15
8. Yolanda Caballero, COL, 2:26:17