The 2023 Boston Marathon, touted as the fastest and most decorated lineup in the race’s history, lived up to the hype. In its 127th year, the world’s oldest annual marathon saw athletes turn out great performances from Hopkinton to Boylston.
Heading into the men’s elite race, all eyes were on two-time Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, who lowered his own world record last fall. But another champion emerged in Boston on Monday.
After winning two of the World Marathon Majors last year, Evans Chebet tapped into his experience on the course to defend his Boston Marathon title.
Des Linden (2:27:18) and Sara Hall (2:25:48)
Des Linden and Sara Hall, two elite women’s runners who have become crowd favorites, both finished in the top 20 of the elite women’s division in the 2023 Boston Marathon. Though they both finished a few minutes off the pace of the leaders, Hall and Linden (who won the women’s race at the 2018 Boston Marathon) notched finishes of 2:25:48 (17th place) and 2:27:18 (18th place), respectively.
The biggest break in the race came around mile 19, where a surprise surge was made by Gabriel Geay. The tactic caused a significant shake up in the group with Kipchoge falling behind. By mile 20, Kipchoge was 16 seconds off the lead pack, then down to Geay, Benson Kipruto, John Korir, Chebet, and Andualem Belay.
In the remaining six miles, Chebet, Geay, Kipruto battled back and forth for the lead until Chebet pulled away for the last time with less than a mile to go. After winning the 2022 New York City Marathon and the 2022 Boston Marathon, the Kenyan standout claimed another victory in 2:05:54. Geay followed for second in 2:06:04, and Kipruto finished third in 2:06:06.
Kipchoge had been hoping to add a Boston Marathon victory to his unprecedented running resume. The 38-year-old has won two Olympic gold medals and four of the six major marathons; Boston is the only one he has competed in and failed to win. (He has never run New York.) He also broke 2 hours in an exhibition in a Vienna park.
Fighting a trace of a headwind and rain that dampened the roads, Kipchoge ran in the lead pack from the start in Hopkinton until the series of climbs collectively known as Heartbreak Hill. But to the surprise of the fans lined up along Boylston Street for the final sprit, he wasn’t among the three leaders.
A dozen former champions and participants from 120 countries and all 50 states were in the field of 30,000 running 10 years after the finish line bombing that killed three people and wounded hundreds more. The race also included 264 members of the One Fund community — those injured by the attack, their friends and family and charities associated with them.
Obiri shows off track speed in victory
Hellen Obiri was a late entry to the women’s field for Boston, having been convinced by her coach to enter the race just late last month.
Obiri used her foot speed down the stretch to separate herself from the rest of the field and win in a time of 2:21:38, giving her a surprising victory in what was a tight race up until the final mile.
It was Obiri’s first win in a marathon in what was just her second career race at the distance. The Kenyan has made a name for herself running slightly shorter distances on the track, winning silver medals in the 5000-meter events at both the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2021 Tokyo Games.
Obiri was in the mix from the start, but the race was up for grabs until the very end, with a lead pack of at least five runners all jockeying for the top.
“My coach told me that the marathon is about patience,” she told reporters after her win. “So I tried to be patient until the right time.”
Amane Beriso of Ethiopia and Lonah Salpeter of Israel finished second and third, respectively, with American Emma Bates not far behind in fifth.
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