A lot has been made in recent years about the Kenya-Ethiopia distance running rivalry. The two East African countries have been producing light, lean and incredibly fast distance runners for decades, and today’s 117th edition of the Boston Marathon only confirmed their dominance, as Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa took the men’s elite race in 2:10.23 and Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo won the women’s race in 2:23.38. (Need further evidence? Check out the World Marathon Majors standings.)
In fact, the two nations were responsible for the top three in each category, while Americans Shalane Flanagan and Jason Hartmann both took fourth in the elite competitions (Hartmann for his second straight year). It was a great finish for the Americans, particularly Flanagan, who grew up in nearby Marblehead and was making her Boston debut.
For 23-year-old Desisa, who kicked away from Kenya’s Micah Kogo and countryman Gebregziabher Gebremariam in the final mile, it was a huge win. Not only did he win his second-ever race at the marathon distance, but he also ended a three-year streak at Boston for the Kenyans (who’d won nine of the past 12).
The women’s race stayed wide-open from mile 11, when Colombian Yolanda Caballero built up a 35-second lead on the pack. Eventually, Portugal’s Ana Dulce Félix caught and passed her, and ran much of the next 11 or 12 miles alone. In the last two, though, a chase group of Jeptoo, Meseret Hailu (Ethiopia), Sharon Cherop (Kenya) and Flanagan caught and passed her. Jeptoo poured on too much speed in the last mile, and never looked back.
Earlier in the day, Japan's Hiroyuki Yamamota won the men’s wheelchair race, and American Tatyana McFadden took the women's wheelchair race.
Results for the top runners are below:
TOP 6 WOMEN
1. Rita Jeptoo (Kenya)—2:26.25
2. Meseret Hailu (Ethiopia)—2:26.58
3. Sharon Cherop (Kenya)—2:27.01
4. Shalane Flanagan (USA)—2:27.08
5. Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia)—2:28.09
6. Kara Goucher (USA)—2:28.11
TOP 5 MEN
1. Lelisa Desisa (Ethiopia)—2:10.22
2. Micah Kogo (Kenya)—2:10.27
3. Gebregziabher Gebremariam (Ethiopia)—2:10.28
4. Jason Hartmann (USA)—2:12.12
5. Wesley Korir (Kenya)