A Kenyan double as Jepkosgei beats Mary Keitany on her marathon debut and Kamworor kicks to victory in the Big Apple
Joyciline Jepkosgei stormed to success on her marathon debut, while Geoffrey Kamworor regained the title he first won in 2017 at a sunny TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday.
As world record-holder in the 10km and half-marathon, Jepkosgei proved she also has great talent at 26.2 miles as she kicked three miles out to claim a dominant victory ahead of four-time winner Mary Keitany, clocking 2:22:38 to come close to the long-standing course record of 2:22:31 set by Margaret Okayo in 2003.
Keitany ran 2:23:32 for the runner-up spot, while Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga was third, a couple of minutes back.
USA’s 2018 Boston Marathon champion Desiree Linden had been among those to push the pace in the first half and she was to the fore along with Australia’s Sinead Diver at 10km, which was passed in 34:08.
Forging ahead, the American had a six-second lead through 15km in 51:10 and increased that advantage to 13 seconds as 11 miles was reached in 60:14.
The chase then started and by halfway Linden had been caught. Her split was 71:40 as she ran at the back of the lead group, led by Aga, one second ahead. They were joined by Keitany, Jepkosgei and Nancy Kiprop.
A breakaway mile 14 for the women (5:13) had a big impact and by 25km (84:55) Aga, Keitany and Jepkosgei were 26 seconds ahead.
By 21 miles the race was down to Jepkosgei and Keitany and two miles later Jepkosgei made her move. At 24 miles (2:10:51) she was 15 seconds ahead and that lead increased to 27 seconds by 25 miles and an impressive 53 seconds by the finish as she ran the event’s second-fastest ever women’s time.
“My strategy I had planned was to finish the race strong,” said Jepkosgei. “But in the last kilometres, I saw that I was approaching the finish line and I was capable of winning.”
Behind the top three, Kiprop finished fourth in 2:26:21 as Diver completed another fine run in fifth, clocking 2:26:23. Linden secured sixth in 2:26:49.
As in the women’s race, Jepkosgei’s fellow world half-marathon record-holder Kamworor also kicked in the final few miles and the strength of the multiple world cross-country champion saw him claim a 23-second victory ahead of his compatriot Albert Korir.
After winning in 2:08:13, Kamworor ran straight into the arms of his training partner Eliud Kipchoge at the finish, with his win another success for the NN Running Team following Kipchoge’s incredible sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna last month.
In New York, Kamworor chose his moment to make a move, despite surges by Ethiopia’s 2018 runner-up Shura Kitata and Australia’s Brett Robinson during the race.
A large pack went through 10km in 30:32 and defending champion Lelisa Desisa, who won the world title in Doha one month ago, dropped out at around the seven-mile mark.
A 14-strong lead group passed halfway in 64:49 before Robinson decided to kick on and led through 15 miles in 74:13, seven seconds ahead of the chasing group.
He was caught by the pack over the next mile and by 20 miles the lead group was down to five. Kamworor led with 1:38:59 on the clock, with Korir, Girma Bekele Gebre, Tamirat Tola and Kitata just behind him.
With a couple of miles to go, Kamworor surged ahead and led Korir by six seconds at 24 miles, with the gap continuing to grow.
His eventual winning margin was a clear one as Korir – winner of the Houston and Ottawa marathons this year – secured second in 2:08:36, with Ethiopia’s Gebre third, a further two seconds back.
“It feels so wonderful to win here in NYC again for the second time,” said Kamworor “I felt really strong all race and knowing that Eliud was on the finish line waiting me gave me a big motivation to win this race.
“It was very special to be able to celebrate together with Eliud as my mentor and Patrick Sang as my coach on the finish line.”
It was an impressive performance by former world under-18 1500m bronze medallist Gebre, who had entered the open race meaning he didn’t start with the elites and went into the race without an agent or sponsor.
“My personal best was 2:13, and I ran that in Pittsburgh,” he said. “At that point, I had been living here (in America), but this time, because I prepared at home (in Ethiopia) at altitude, I was very well prepared, and I expected to run a better time. I’m very happy to have improved my personal best.
“I don’t know what my next race will be. I don’t have a sponsor. I don’t have an agent. I just compete individually, so I don’t know what I’ll be running next.”
Tola was fourth in 2:09:20 and Kitata fifth in 2:10:39. Jared Ward was top American, clocking a PB of 2:10:45 in sixth.
Making his marathon debut, Britain’s Andy Vernon went through halfway in 66:12 but dropped out after 18 miles.
USA’s Daniel Romanchuk and Switzerland’s Manuela Schär successfully defended their elite wheelchair titles, clocking respective times of 1:37:24 and 1:44:20.
In a repeat of last year’s men’s podium, Romanchuk won a sprint finish to triumph one second ahead of Switzerland’s Marcel Hug, while GB’s 2010 champion and six-time Paralympic gold medallist David Weir was third in 1:37:28.
Schär again secured success ahead of USA’s Tatyana McFadden in 1:48:19, with fellow American Susannah Scaroni third in 1:51:37.
» See the November 7 edition of AW magazine for further coverage