Seconds make the difference in hours-long race
The Santa Clara
April 18, 2019
This year’s Boston Marathon was one for the history books.
After 26.2 grueling miles, Lawrence Cherono of Kenya won the men’s race in the final steps with an official time of 2:07:57. That was barely ahead of Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia—the 2015 champion—who crossed the finish line just two seconds later, at 2:07:59. Kenyan Kenneth Kipkemoi was third in 2:08:06.
Monday’s race started at 10 a.m., with Cherono, Desisa and Kipkemoi among the top 10 and 30,000 runners trailing behind them. The three leaders remained in a tight pack throughout the race, reaching the halfway mark of 13.1 miles in one hour, four minutes and 30 seconds.
The men widened the gap between themselves and the rest of the runners during mile 24, but remained shoulder-to-shoulder with one another heading into the final mile. They ran that way until Cherono and Desisa made it a two-man race with 200 meters to go. Then Desisa took the lead— until Cherono got on his left shoulder within the last steps and surged ahead, beating him to the tape. The pair’s final mile of the race was four minutes and 25 seconds.
“That is the first time I have lost in a sprint finish,” Desisa said. The near photo-finish was the closest Boston Marathon since 1988.
Things played out a little differently in the women’s race. Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa broke away from the rest of the pack around mile four and ran solo for the last 20 miles to win.
Degefa, 28 years old running just her fourth marathon, crossed the finish line in an official time of 2:23:30.
She opened up a 20-second advantage over her competitors by mile seven. It increased to more than three minutes by the halfway mark, which she reached in one hour and 10 minutes. Degefa ran her last mile in five minutes and 34 seconds. She told Boston reporters through an interpreter that she was “a little worried” at having such a large lead “but I turned around and there was nobody behind me.”
Unlike the fight to the finish in the men’s race, the Ethiopian star easily beat 39-year-old Kenyan Edna Kiplagat, who finished second, and American Jordan Hasay, who was third. Des Linden, the American who won last year’s race, finished fifth in 2:27:00.
Other winners included Daniel Romanchuk, who won the men’s wheelchair race with the fastest time ever by an American. The wheelchair competitors were the first to start on the roads of Boston and their races began not long after a storm swept through the city. He crossed the finish line in an official time of 1:21:36.
“Daniel is on fire,” Disabled Sports USA communications manager Shuan Butcher told ABC News. “Being the youngest athlete to win the wheelchair race in Boston can only mean great things ahead.”
Romanchuk is the youngest winner of this race at 20 years old and eight months. He is the first American winner since 1993.
On the women’s side, Manuela Schär of Switzerland won the race for a second time. She set the course record in 2017.
A notable finisher of the men’s race included NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson. “Training is a part of every racecar driver’s life,” the seven-time NASCAR champion said. Johnson showed that he can do more than just drive fast—he can run fast too. His finishing time was three hours and nine minutes.
The Boston Marathon has been held annually since 1897. This year, two new banners were displayed at the finish line to pay tribute to those lost in the marathon bombings in 2013. Similar banners were also placed throughout the city.
“The marathon represents everything that we stand for here in Boston,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said. “It’s about grit, it’s about heart, it’s about resilience, it’s about hope.”
Later this summer, a memorial will be built at the site of the bombing. Bronze statues will feature 18-foot glass light poles, as well as intertwined granite pills representing the victims.
But the most important memorial will still be the marathon itself, which has not only survived that terrible event—but, as this year’s race showed, is as popular, competitive and vital as ever.
Contact Lacey Yahnke at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.