HOPKINTON-TO-BOSTON, April 18 — In celebration of a half century of women officially putting their stamp on the historic Boston Marathon, this year’s world-class field certainly paid tribute to the “inaugural seven” with a race for the ages.
Winner Peres Jepchirchir capped an 8-month run the likes of which we have rarely seen. First was the Olympic gold last August, then a followup gold at New York in November and now the Boston laurel wreath.
But this was by no means an April stroll, as it took the 28-year-old Kenyan until the final 200m to contain and finally outsprint Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh, 2:21:01–2:21:05. Third went to Kenya’s Mary Ngugi (2:21:32), who sliced more than 3:00 from her previous personal best. Jepchirchir and Yeshaneh ran Nos. 5 & 6 ever times on the Boston course, while Ngugi moved into No. 9.
Said the exhausted winner, “Yeah, I can say this is a difficult race for me. I came to realize [that] Boston is Boston, it’s a tough course. In my side I feel it’s a tough course. But I am glad, I am happy for my victory and I’m honored and I’m happy.”
On her thoughts during the final miles, “I trained hard,” said Yeshaneh. “I was also determined that I should win. That’s what I was thinking.”
Said Ngugi, a 2-time medalist, at the World Half-Marathon Championships. “I always feel so comfortable here, “The people make me feel like home. I’ve raced here many times and being back in Boston and being back in such a big field is an amazing feeling for me. The fans around the course cheering my name is an amazing feeling.”
The field included a host of sub-2:24 runners who had reached the podium in previous Boston, London, Chicago and NYC marathons.
After 15K in 15:10 Jepchirchir increased the tempo with Yeshaneh, Joyciline Jepkosgei and Ethiopia’s Degitu Azimeraw in tow. Jepkosgei took a slight lead at halfway (1:09:41), 16 seconds in arrears of the course record, still fighting the slight headwind as they made the turn onto Commonwealth Ave. and the Newton Hills.
Jepchirchir showed little hesitancy mid-race when she worked to stay on course record pace. “I can say for me it is a risk and I decided to push the risk because I wanted to run a good time and I can thank you for my friends Ababel and Joyciline because we push the pace together,” said Jepchirchir, who owns a PR of 2:17:16.
The trio continued their pursuit through the long and grinding hills until they reached the top of Heartbreak as the Boston skyline came into view for the final 8K. As mile 23 and Coolidge Corner beckoned, it was down to Jepchirchir and Yeshaneh, who finished 1-3 at NYC last year.
“You know Ababel was strong so for me I was feeling the pace,” said Jepchirchir. “I was feeling the pace. I was feeling… it was not easy, it was tough. For me I was tired. I was targeting the last 800m to push the pace.”
Stride for stride the two battled over the final 3K with neither showing any sign of taking their foot off the gas. There were at least six lead changes during the final mile as the two passed Kenmore Square and the in-progress Red Sox game. “She is a very good competitor and she is a friend too and she always considers me as a friend and I’m glad that I run with her, and I’m also glad that I came [in] second,” said Jepchirchir.
The two continued to volley back and forth as they made the final turn onto Boylston Street with an ever so slight lead for Yeshaneh. But Jepchirchir had one final spike down the homestretch to the finish in front of the Boston Public Library. After so many untiring efforts to pull away, Yeshaneh had to settle for equaling the sixth-closest finish in race history.
What Jepchirchir’s rivals bring to the table bring out the best in the No. 1 World Ranker. “For me I can say that I love my competitors because I cannot [win] by myself,” said Jepchirchir, “because I knew that if we push together, we can run a good race. For me I like helping my fellow [competitors] and I am grateful.”
With Olympic bronze medalist Molly Seidel a DNF, Nell Rojas was the first American, her 2:25:57 in 10th being a lifetime best by 1:15.
BOSTON MARATHON WOMEN’S RESULTS
1. Peres Jepchirchir (Ken) 2:21:01;
2. Ababel Yeshaneh (Eth) 2:21:05;
3. Mary Ngugi (Ken) 2:21:32;
4. Edna Kiplagat (Ken) 2:21:40;
5. Monicah Wanjuhi (Ken) 2:22:13;
6. Violah Lagat (Ken) 2:23:47; 7. Joyciline Jepkosgei (Ken) 2:24:43; 8. Degitu Azimeraw (Eth) 2:25:23; 9. Charlotte Purdue (GB) 2:25:26; 10. Nell Rojas (US) 2:25:57; 11. Malindi Elmore (Can) 2:27:58; 12. Stephanie Bruce (US) 2:28:02;
13. Desiree Linden (US) 2:28:47; 14. Dakotah Lindwurm (US) 2:29:55; 15. Bria Wetsch (US) 2:30:42; 16. Elaina Tabb (US) 2:31:34; 17. Maegan Krifchin (US) 2:31:53; 18. Kathy Derks (US) 2:34:54; 19. Natasha Wodak (Can) 2:35:08; 20. Angie Orjuela (Col) 2:35:17; 21. Sara Vaughn (US) 2:36:27;
22. Aisling Cuffe (US) 2:37:23; 23. Annmarie Tuxbury (US) 2:38:15; 24. Kate Vaughan (Can) 2:38:26; 25. Kayla Lampe (US) 2:38:38; 26. Ashlee Powers (US) 2:39:59; 27. Caity Phillips (US) 2:40:09; 28. Kate Sanborn (US) 2:40:16; 29. Katie Kellner (US) 2:40:57; 30. Mary Denholm (US) 2:40:59;… dnf—Molly Seidel (US). ◻︎