NAIROBI, Kenya, April 19 – Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot on Monday set a course record to win the 114th Boston marathon in a time of 2:05:52.
Cheruiyot who is not related to four time winner Robert ‘Mwafrika’ Cheruiyot brushed off a challenge from Ethiopia’s Tekeste Kebede ( 2:07:23) to clinch one of the most sought after marathon titles after finishing fourth in the same event last year.
"I wanted to show my talent. I knew nothing about the 2:05 but when I saw the time with 5km to go when I was with Merga, I tried to push and push," said Cheruiyot who bagged a prize fund of Sh13.5 million including a Sh1.9 million bonus for the course record.
Last year’s women’s winner Salena Kosgei was third in 2:28:35 in the race that was won in dramatic fashion by Ethiopia’s Teyba Erkesso.
Erkesso surged ahead by more than two minutes with four miles remaining and held on to outlast Tatyana Pushkareva at the finish, winning in 2:26:11 to defeat the Russian by just three seconds.
The coldest conditions in 12 years greeted runners at the start as Meb Keflezighi, in his first race since winning the 2009 New York Marathon, and Ryan Hall sought to become the first American man to win the race since 1983.
Hall settled for fourth in 2:08:41 with Keflezeghi fifth in 2:09.26.
Hall grabbed the lead at the start and stayed in front of the world-class pack, taking the extra strain of setting the pace. Merga and Cheruiyot were among the rivals tucking in behind Hall, biding their time.
Merga made his first move after eight miles, surging to the front with Kenyans Cheruiyot, Moses Kegan Kipkosgei, David Mandago and Gilbert Yegon and Eritrean-born Keflezighi in pursuit.
Hall fell back but recovered and once again took the lead as the pack reformed following Merga’s first move, but Hall fall back for good as Merga made another surge to the front at the halfway mark.
Merga and Cheruiyot pulled ahead of their rivals from there and ran together for miles until Cheruiyot’s closing surge to capture the crown.
Japan’s Yurika Nakamura, reigning world champion at 5,000 and 10,000 meters, and China’s Jia Chaofeng, a marathon debutante who was runner-up in the 5,000 and 10,000 in the East Asian Games at Hong Kong, took the early women’s lead.
Jia and Nakamura, in only her third marathon, were joined at the front of the pack after the first hour by Russia’s Lidiya Grigoriyeva, the 2007 Boston Marathon winner.
But 10 minutes later, Ethiopia’s Dire Tune and Erkesso took over the lead, the training partners making their move near the midpoint of the race alongside compatriot Koren Yal.
Erkesso, who won January’s Houston Marathon, and Yal left 2008 Boston winner Tune behind after another 15 minutes as the late hills loomed.
Erkesso pulled away with 11 miles remaining when the hills began and ran alone, leading by more than two minutes with four miles to go.
Pushkareva, a former competitive ballroom dancer making her Boston debut, trimmed the margin to only 35 seconds with 3.2 miles remaining.
Pushkareva, last year’s San Antonio Marathon winner, kept closing the gap on a tiring Erkesso but came up just short.
More than 26,000 runners, including the largest women’s field at 11,324, competed. About 500 entrants were believed to be unable to race because they could not fly from Europe due to the Iceland volcano ash clouds.
South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk won his ninth men’s wheelchair title, the most triumphs by anyone in any division in Boston Marathon history. He won in 1:26:53, edging American Krige Schabort by four seconds.
"I was lying fourth for a long time and I reeled them back one by one," Van Dyk said. "I was able to fight back and get in front and I was able to take it home from there."
Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida won the women’s wheelchair title for the fourth year in a row in 1:43:22, 3:36 ahead of Canadian runner-up Diane Roy.
1. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (KEN), 2hrs 5mins 52secs (course record, old mark of 2:07:14 by Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyout in 2006)
2. Tekeste Kebede (ETH) 2:07:23
3. Deribe Merga (ETH) 2:08:39
4. Ryan Hall (USA) 2:08:41
5. Meb Keflezighi (USA) 2:09:26
6. Gashaw Asfaw (ETH) 2:10:53
7. John Komen (KEN) 2:11:48
8. Moses Kigen Kipkosgei (KEN) 2:12:04
9. Jason Lehmkuhle (USA) 2:12:24
10. Alejandro Suarez (MEX) 2:12:33
1. Teyba Erkesso (ETH) 2:26:11
2. Tatyana Pushkareva (RUS) 2:26:14
3. Salina Kosgei (KEN) 2:28:35
4. Waynishet Girma (ETH) 2:28:36
5. Bruna Genovese (ITA) 2:29:12
6. Lidiya Grigoryeva (RUS) 2:30:31
7. Yurika Nakamura (JPN) 2:30:40
8. Sun Weiwei (CHN) 2:31:14
9. Nailya Yulamanova (RUS) 2:31:48
10. Albina Mayorova-Ivanova (RUS) 2:31:55