NYC Marathon Women — Fine Debut By Jepkosgei

Suspicions confirmed: Joyciline Jepkosgei has a great future in the marathon. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

NEW YORK CITY, November 03—Two years after obliterating a series of road racing WRs at shorter distances, Joyciline Jepkosgei finally made her much-anticipated marathon debut, running away with the victory at the TCS New York City Marathon. The 25-year-old Kenyan earned the title by dispatching her venerated countrywoman Mary Keitany, who holds the 26-mile WR (2:17:01) for a women-only race and was seeking her fifth victory in the Big Apple. Jepkosgei clocked 2:22:38, the second-fastest ever on New York’s challenging route, which features rolling terrain over the city’s 5 boroughs and the bridges that connect them. That left her just 7 seconds shy of the course record, set in ’03 by Margaret Okayo.

On a cool (45F/7C) but calm and sunny morning, the women’s field took off a half-hour ahead of the men and the masses. The tempo was honest early, with a pack of 12 reaching 10K in 34:10, on pace for about 2:24. American Des Linden soon decided to break the race open, and had a 4-second lead at 9M. That margin grew to as much as 13 seconds before a quartet of Africans reeled the ’18 Boston champion in shortly after 20K.

Jepkosgei and Keitany, along with fellow Kenyan Nancy Kiprop and Ethiopian Ruti Aga, who won Tokyo earlier this year and has a 2:18:34 PR, hit halfway in 1:11:39, with Linden keeping contact. But by 14M the American and the 40-year-old Kiprop were falling behind. The 3-woman race eventually became a 2-way battle in the 20th mile, when Aga could not keep up with the Kenyans. Finally, in mile 23, Jepkosgei began to create decisive separation with the 37-year-old Keitany, who had won this race in ’14, ’15, ’16 & ’18. Jepkosgei split 16:45 from 35K to 40K and mile 25 was her fastest of the race (5:17) and it was more than enough to secure a comfortable victory. She finished nearly a minute clear of Keitany (2:23:32).

“My strategy was to finish the race strong,” said Jepkosgei, who set road WRs in the road 10K (29:43) and half-marathon (1:04:51) in ’17, but had not shown that kind of speed in the past two years. “I was not nervous,” she said. “Throughout the race I didn’t feel any pressure at all. I was running my own race.” In addition to her hefty $100,000 1st-place prize, Jepkosgei also earned a $45,000 bonus for breaking 2:23:00.

Aga (2:25:51) was 3rd, while Kiprop (2:26:21) outlasted fast-closing 42-year-old Australian (by way of Ireland) Sinead Diver (2:26:23). Linden (2:26:46) ran an uncharacteristic positive-split race (1:11:40/1:14:06), but had enough left in the tank to hold off fellow American Kellyn Taylor (2:26:52) for 6th. “I know the back half of the course is tough, but honestly I was eyeing the American course record here,” Linden said of Kara Goucher’s 2:25:53 from ’08. “It was a perfect day. We had a little bit of a tailwind in those early miles, and I thought, ‘Let’s swing for it.’ Paid for it late, absolutely, and Kara’s course record lives on.”

1. Joyciline Jepkosgei (Ken) 2:22:38 (debut) (1:11:39/1:10:59) ($140,000); 2. Mary Keitany (Ken) 2:23:32; 3. Ruti Aga (Eth) 2:25:51; 4. Nancy Kiprop (Ken) 2:26:21; 5. Sinead Diver (Aus) 2:26:23; 6. Des Linden (US) 2:26:46; 7. Kellyn Taylor (US) 2:26:52; 8. Ellie Pashley (Aus) 2:27:07; 9. Belaynesh Fikadu (Eth) 2:27:27; 10. Mary Ngugi (Ken) 2:27:36 PR; 11. Gerda Steyn (SA) 2:27:48 PR; 12. Aliphine Tuliamuk (US) 2:28:12; 13. Roberta Groner (US) 2:30:12; 14. Katy Jermann (US) 2:31:55 PR;

15. Kate Landau (US) 2:33:04 PR; 16. Yinli He (Chn) 2:34:43; 17. Danna Herrick (US) 2:36:00; 18. Alia Gray (US) 2:37:09; 19. Getahun Bizuwork (Eth) 2:37:38; 20. Paula Pridgen (US) 2:40:04 PR;… 22. Lauren Perkins (US) 2:43:40; 23. Megan Foster (US) 2:44:01; 24. Ana Johnson (US) 2:44:40; 25. Kaitlin Goodman (US) 2:45:27; 26. Jennifer Bigham (US) 2:46:43; 27. Margo Malone (US) 2:47:52;… dnf—Meseret Ali Basa (Eth), Buze Diriba (Eth), Sara Hall (US), Allie Kieffer (US)