NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 15 – On his maiden appearance at the Boston Marathon, Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono beat Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa in a sensational sprint finish to clinch the title in 2hours, 7minutes and 57 seconds.
Kenya secured the top two slots on the podium with Desisa coming second two seconds after Cherono’s time while Kennedy Kipkemboi was third in a time of 2hrs, 8minutes and 6 seconds.
“I am very happy with the race today. I knew I was good in sprints and I saw that I could win if it got to that and I am really pleased today,” Cherono said after the race.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat, champion in Boston in 2017 settled for second spot in a race won by Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa who obliterated the race from the start.
Degefa clocked 2:23:31 while Kiplagat who came in second timed 2:24:13
For his efforts and winning the race on his debut, Cherono walked home with Sh15mn ($150,000) while Kiplagat walked home with Sh7.5mn ($75,000).
The men’s race was a more tightly contested affair with the leading group of almost 15 athletes sticking together for the better part of the race until the final quarter.
American Jared Ward was leading after 18 kilometres, taking the leading group through in a time of 54:20. At the halfway mark, former champion Geoffrey Kirui was leading the pack as they crossed the 21km mark in 1:04:27 with the pack reduced to about 12.
With about 10km to go, Ethiopia’s Desisa led the first breakout group that had Chelimo, Kirui, Kipkemoi, Felix Kandie and Philemon Rono.
In the final stretch of the course, Kirui who won the race in 2017 and finished second last year started fading off and left the challenge to Desisa, sandwiched between the Kenyan duo of Cherono and Kipkemoi.
With finish line in sight, it was clear that the title would be between the debutant and veteran Desisa and they engaged in a sensational sprint finish, Cherono ultimately cutting the tape first ahead of the Ethiopian.
Kenyans occupied seven of the top 10 spots with Kandie coming in fourth in 2:08:52, Kirui fifth in 2:08:55 while Rono was sixth in 2:08:58. Festus Talam finished ninth while Benson Kipruto was 10th.
In the women’s race, Degefa bolted from the rest of the pack just after the 10km mark and she revealed after the race it was a tactic passed on to her by her coach who also happened to be her husband but couldn’t travel with her after he was denied a visa.
Degefa looked strong and hit the 20km mark with a split time of 16:39 and there was not a slightest sign of fatigue on her face. She passed the half marathon mark in a time of 1:10:40 with the chasing pack led by Kiplagat, Betsy Saina and defending champion Des Linden way behind.
After the 30km mark, 39-year old Kiplagat decided to give chase and she cut away from the rest of the pack, trying to bridge the humongous gap between her and the Ethiopian.
However, Degefa could not be stopped and she went on to cut the tape in a time of 2:23:31 with Kiplagat finishing almost a whole minute behind, clockinh 2:24:13. American Jordan Hasay was third in 2:25:20.
Kenya’s closest finisher to Kiplagat was Caroline Rotich who was sixth behind defending champion Linden, Mary Ngugi was seventh while Saina finished 10th.