Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany swept the TCS New York City Marathon, turning the world’s biggest block party into yet another Kenyan celebration. Biwott was looking for his first major title, while Keitany was looking for immortality. On Sunday, both got what they wanted.
Crossing the finishing line with 2:24:25 on the clock, Keitany enjoyed a 66-second victory ahead of Ethiopia’s Aselefech Mergia, who came through to claim the runner-up spot ahead of her compatriot Tigist Tufa with 2:25:50.
Biwott had had his fellow Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor for company but pulled away in the closing stages for a winning margin of 14 seconds. Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa was next, clocking 2:12:10, while last year’s winner Wilson Kipsang held on for fourth in 2:12:45.
With the event featuring no pacemakers, strategy is required and after steady starts both races built up to exciting conclusions.
Portugal’s Sara Moreira, who finished third in New York last year on her marathon debut, was a long-time leader and maintained her position at the front for most of the first 18 miles.
She and Tufa were to the fore as the front pack passed through 10km in 34:27 before the Portuguese athlete took a nine-strong group featuring Keitany, London winner Tufa, Boston champion Caroline Rotich, 2013 winner Priscah Jeptoo, marathon debutantes Laura Thweatt of the USA and Sally Kipyego of Kenya, Mergia and France’s European champion Christelle Daunay through half way in 72:54.
By 20 miles the lead group was being strung out by Keitany and Tufa. Jeptoo and Mergia were just behind, with Moreira hanging on.
Keitany and Tufa were again head-to-head after their battle in London in April. Not wanting to leave it until the closing stages like she did to win ahead of Jemina Sumgong last year, Keitany made her break a few miles out and stretched away. Tufa couldn’t stick with the pace and was caught by Mergia, while Moreira finished fourth in 2:25:53, just over a minute ahead of Daunay. Jeptoo was sixth and Thweatt seventh.
Paula Radcliffe had been the last to successfully defend the women’s title, doing so in 2008.
Over in the men’s race and Biwott had plenty of company to begin with. At the half way mark a group which had reduced to nine built back up to 14. Boston winner Desisa had led through 5km, which was passed in 15:47, while the clock showed 31:31 at the 10km mark and 66:49 at half way.
Kamworor pushed on after 20 miles, with Desisa, Biwott and Kipsang the only athletes to remain with him. That move eventually saw Kipsang dropped and another surge by Kamworor at around 22 miles proved the sort of power that saw him win the world cross-country title earlier this year.
Biwott wasn’t done, though, and at 24 miles he made his own move. Glancing over his shoulder, Desisa was no longer in view but Kamworor wouldn’t be dropped. Steadily Biwott, who finished second in last year’s London Marathon, increased the gap and powered over the line clear for the biggest win of his career so far.
As in the women’s race, top American in the men’s race also finished seventh – 2009 winner Meb Keflezighi clocking 2:13:32.
South Africa’s Ernst van Dyk regained the elite men’s wheelchair title he claimed 10 years ago, clocking 1:30:54 to claim victory in a sprint finish from USA’s London Marathon winner Josh George with 1:30:55. Switzerland’s Marcel Hug finished third in 1:34:05.
After being among the leaders, Australia’s defending champion Kurt Fearnley was reported to have fallen out of his wheelchair and slipped to around a mile behind. He finished fifth in 1:35:21, two seconds behind Japan’s Hiroyuki Yamamoto.
There was a dominant victory for Tatyana McFadden in the elite women’s wheelchair race. Clocking 1:43:04, the American took more than seven minutes off the course record to complete her third consecutive ‘grand slam’ of marathon titles, adding her win in New York to victories in Boston, London and Chicago. You can read more about her journey to the top here.
Next over the line was Switzerland’s Manuela Schar, who clocked 1:44:57, while her compatriot Sandra Graf finished third in 1:52:05.