Degefa dominates after solo run, while Cherono beats Lelisa Desisa in thrilling sprint finish
Worknesh Degefa and Lawrence Cherono stormed to Boston Marathon success on Monday, with the women’s title won after an impressive solo run and the men’s race ending in an exciting sprint finish.
While Kenya’s Cherono claimed victory by just two seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa after the pair and Kenya’s Kenneth Kipkemoi split away from a large lead group, Ethiopia’s Degefa made her move just four miles into the women’s race and at one point had a lead of almost three minutes ahead of her rivals.
Degefa’s only other marathon experience might have been on the flat roads of Dubai, but the 28-year-old – whose PB of 2:17:41 from January puts her fourth on the world all-time list – wasn’t put off by Boston’s hills.
After passing halfway in 70:40 with a lead of almost two-and-a-half minutes, she stayed strong in the challenging latter stages to eventually claim victory by 42 seconds in 2:23:31 as the experienced two-time world champion and 2017 Boston winner Edna Kiplagat started to chase her down but ran out of road.
USA’s Jordan Hasay was third in 2:25:20, Ethiopia’s Meskerem Assefa fourth in 2:25:40 and defending champion Desiree Linden fifth in 2:27:00.
Making her marathon comeback after last racing over 26.2 miles at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack – who became a mother to daughter Isla just six months ago – clocked a PB of 2:30:38 to place 11th, while GB’s Alyson Dixon ran 2:35:43 to finish 16th.
In the men’s race, the halfway point was passed in 64:28 and the lead group – led by Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui, Ethiopia’s Lemi Berhanu Hayle and USA’s Scott Fauble – remained 11-strong at 20 miles, where the clock showed 1:38:37.
Cherono, Desisa and Kipkemoi made a move and remained locked together until the closing stages, with Cherono and Desisa kicking away and sprinting for the finish line.
Cherono narrowly edged ahead to add victory in Boston to his 2:04:06 PB and course record victory at the Amsterdam Marathon in October, as Desisa was denied a third Boston win to go with his titles from 2013 and 2015.
Kipkemoi was third in 2:08:07, while Kenya’s Felix Kandie was fourth in 2:08:54 and Kirui fifth in 2:08:55.
Fauble and fellow American Jared Ward were also in the top 10, clocking 2:09:09 and 2:09:25 in seventh and eighth respectively. Japan’s defending champion Yuki Kawauchi finished 17th in 2:15:29, while GB’s Scott Overall was 23rd in 2:17:37.
After wins in Chicago and New York last year, 20-year-old Daniel Romanchuk secured men’s wheelchair race victory in 1:21:36, while Switzerland’s Manuela Schär was another to add to her series of World Marathon Majors wins as she won the women’s wheelchair race in 1:34:19.
» See the April 18 edition of AW magazine for further coverage and pictures