NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16- Yuki Kawauchi stunned defending champion Geoffrey Kirui with an emphatic run in the final five kilometers to win the Boston Marathon title, becoming the first Japanese winner of the race since Toshihiko Seko in 1981.
Under horrendous running conditions with the spluttering rain, low temperatures and raging wind on the Boston streets, Kirui, the reigning World Champion looked on course for a second consecutive title after bolting off in the final 17km.
However, he could not sustain the tempo over the final five kilometers of the race, Kawauchi digging into his energy reserves to wheel past the Kenyan.
Kawauchi clocked 2:15:58 ahead of Kirui who came a distant second in 2:18:21.
“I could see him infront of me and once he started slowing down, I knew I could get him. For me these were good running conditions and I am happy with the win,” Kawauchi speaking through a translator said as he reveled in his win.
In the women’s race, Kenya missed out on the podium as United States’ Desiree Linden became the first American since 1985 to win the race, clocking 2:39:54.
Defending champion Edna Kiplagat finished eighth with six Americans being in the top seven.
Kenya’s Gladys Chesir seemed to have gotten herself into title mode when she steamed past Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska who had led the race from the 15km mark and she enjoyed a 27 second lead at the halfway mark.
Chesir took the lead from the Ethiopian after 32km mark, but she couldn’t sustain the tempo with Linden closing down on the two of them. The American who was fourth last year kept the tempo till the finish line with Chesir and Daska fading away.
Fellow American Sarah Sellers came in second clocking 2:44:05 while Canadian Krista Duchene came in third in 2:44:20. Rachel Hyland, Nicole Dimerccurio, Shalane Flanagan and Kimi reed crossed the line at fourth to sixth before Kiplagat finished in 2:47:14.
Meanwhile in the men’s race, all fell off for Kirui in the final five kilometers of the race. Kirui took charge of the race after 25km down, stretching the pace braving the strong winds that flapped his jacket ferociously.
At the 35km mark, he enjoyed a lead of over a minute and a half and he kept glancing over his shoulder to ensure no one was on his trail.
However, the conditions seemed to have taken a toll on him as he started ascending uphill to the finish line, Kawauchi pumping up the pace and hitting his steps hard on the ground to bridge the gap.
As soon as the Japanese went past Kirui, there was no looking back as he went on to cross the finish line, Kirui struggling to maintain his second spot. Kenyan-turned American Shadrack Biwott came home third in 2:18:32.
Three other Americans, Tyler Pennel, Andrew Bumbalough, Scott Smith came in over fourth, fifth and sixth.