New York City, New York, November 04—Order was restored on the women’s side of the TCS New York City Marathon, with Mary Keitany returning to the top of the podium after an uncharacteristic runner-up finish last year. The 36-year-old Kenyan scored her fourth win in the Big Apple in the past five years with a staggering 1:06:58 second half. Her finishing time of 2:22:48 was the second-fastest in the history of the race’s challenging route, missing Margaret Okayo’s ’03 course record of 2:22:31 by just 17 seconds. Keitany previously won this race 3 straight times 2014–16.
Shalane Flanagan, a media sensation—and the ubiquitous face of this event’s marketing campaign—after becoming the first American woman in 40 years to win this race last year, battled to 3rd, a spot behind Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot, this year’s world list leader with her 2:18:31 win in London in April.
Though conditions were ideal on a sunny morning with temperatures in the upper 40s, the women’s pack—given a 30-minute head start on the elite men and the masses—approached the first half like a leisurely Sunday jog. Eight women cautiously passed 13.1M in 1:15:49. At that point Keitany and Ethiopians Rahma Tusa and Netsanet Gudeta began a breakaway with a 5:14 split for mile 14. The African trio stormed the next three miles in 5:08, 5:09 and a mind-boggling 4:55 to open up a gap on a chasing quartet of Cheruiyot, Flanagan, second American Molly Huddle and Ethiopian Mamitu Daska. In mile 18—another scorching 4:55—Keitany dropped Gudeta and Tusa in quick succession.
From 25K to 35K Keitany ripped a 30:53 split and barely looked to be straining. She finished more than 3:00 clear of the field. “I didn’t want to rush at the beginning so that to suffer at the end,” she said of the cautious early tempo. “I wanted to be comfortable throughout the race.”
Cheruiyot (2:26:02), fighting a recent hamstring injury, and Flanagan (2:26:22) both executed patient rallies in the closing stages, gaining ground on the fading Tula with each mile (Gudeta had dropped out after 35K.) Huddle turned in a PR 2:26:44 to take 4th, while Tusa (2:27:13) held on for 5th. Boston winner Des Linden (2:27:51) and Allie Kieffer (2:28:12 PR) came through next, putting 4 Americans in the top 10.
Flanagan, who was noncommittal on whether this might be her final race, ran 31 seconds faster than her winning time of ’17. She admitted to being discouraged when Keitany & Co.’s breakaway left her far off the pace. But when Tusa started coming back into view she found her groove again. “That was a lot of motivation kind of dangling out there as a carrot seeing her,” she said. “So I was trying to bide my time once we hit the park, use my knowledge of the park because I’ve trained in here quite a bit and raced in here. I was able to run the tangent lines a little better than her I noticed, and then just passed her pretty aggressively and confidently and was able to essentially deflate her balloon.”
Linden, who received nearly as much prerace hype as Flanagan thanks to her historic win in Boston in April, was pleased with her finish, and motivated by the overall American showing. “It’s definitely a great group of runners, and I think we’re continually pushing the bar for each other,” she said. “You can win a major one year and not be the top American at the next race, which is insane.”
NY CITY MARATHON WOMEN’S RESULTS
World Marathon Major; New York, New York, November 04 (point-to-point)—
1. Mary Keitany (Ken) 2:22:48; 2. Vivian Cheruiyot (Ken) 2:26:02; 3. Shalane Flanagan (US) 2:26:22; 4. Molly Huddle (US) 2:26:44 PR; 5. Rahma Tusa (Eth) 2:27:13; 6. Desiree Linden (US) 2:27:51; 7. Allie Kieffer (US) 2:28:12 PR; 8. Lisa Weightman (Aus) 2:29:11; 9. Mamitu Daska (Eth) 2:30:31; 10. Belaynesh Fikadu (Eth) 2:30:47 PR; 11. Stephanie Bruce (US) 2:30:59; 12. Roberta Groner (US) 2:31:01; 13. Gerda Steyn (SA) 2:31:04 PR; 14. Carrie Dimoff (US) 2:31:12 PR; 15. Sam Bluske (US) 2:32:04 PR; 16. Sydney Devore (US) 2:32:43; 17. Brittany Charboneau (US) 2:36:35; 18. Sarah Sellers (US) 2:36:37; 19. Eva Almkvist (Swe) 2:36:48; 20. Lydia O’Donnell (NZ) 2:40:52. □