Kenyans sweep Boston Marathon titles, but Americans make progress
By Jimmy Golen
U.S. claims 6 of top 10 spots among men, 2 of top 4 women
BOSTON – The Kenyans are back in Boston after a relative lull that saw them shut out in the world’s most prestigious marathon twice in the past three years.
More surprisingly, so are the Americans.
Geoffrey Kirui won the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday, pulling away from three-time U.S. Olympian Galen Rupp with two miles to go to give Kenya its first men’s victory in five years. Edna Kiplagat won the women’s race to complete the Kenyan sweep.
They were followed closely by Americans who grabbed two of the top four women’s spots and six of the top 10 for men – the first time that’s happened since the race went professional in 1986.
“It’s so exciting to see Americans being competitive here,” said Rupp, the Olympic bronze medalist who was making his Boston debut. “It’s a real exciting time. And it’s awesome to see American distance running on the upswing and being competitive in these races.”
Kirui finished in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 37 seconds to claim a silver trophy, a guilded olive wreath from Marathon, Greece, and the $150,000 first prize. Rupp was 21 seconds back, with Japan’s Suguru Osako 30 seconds behind him.
Rounding out the top 10 were runners from California, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Utah.
“American distance running is looking good today,” said sixth-place finisher Abdi Abdirahman, a Somali immigrant and Tucson resident who is a four-time Olympian. “We have the podium for both men and women, so the future is great.”
Kiplagat finished in 2:21:52 to win her Boston debut, adding the victory to two world championships and wins in London, New York and Los Angeles. She pulled ahead of Rose Chelimo of Bahrain in the Newton hills to win by 59 seconds.
American Jordan Hasay, making her first run at the 26.2-mile distance, was third, and Desi Linden was fourth – the first time since 1991 two U.S. women have finished in the top four.
“It keeps happening. We keep getting closer. We’re putting more numbers in there, and it’s just a matter of time,” said Linden, the 2011 runner-up by 2 seconds. “When Americans break the tape, it’s going to be a big deal here.”
Kenya had won either the men’s or women’s race every year since 1991 before being shut out in 2014 and again last year. But Ethiopia surpassed its East African neighbors on Patriots’ Day the past four years, earning its first sweep in 2016. Then in December, Kenyan Rita Jeptoo was stripped of her 2014 title for failing a drug test, and it was handed instead to Ethiopia’s Buzunesh Deba.
For Kirui, even when he was running shorter distances, he had his eye on Boston.
“In my mind, I was sure that one day I would win this race,” said Kirui, 25, who was running just his third marathon. “To come here to Boston, I knew I was going to face my colleagues who have run many times here. … I knew I would challenge some of the champions who have been competing here.”