In two of the most exciting marathon finishes this year, the men’s and women’s races in New York over the weekend provided plenty of excitement to spectators at the finish line, though those were not the only stories.
Weather far from ideal for road running saw paces slow and tactics become crucial in the 44th running of the New York City Marathon. Winds at some points reached 40 km/h and temperatures were in the single digits for much of the race, forcing runners into a tight pack at a pace many were able to sustain until late in the race.
The men’s race saw Wilson Kipsang and Lelisa Desisa break from the pack and sprint to the wire with Kipsang unleashing a devastating kick in the final few hundred metres to take the win in his first NYC Marathon.
The women’s race saw a similar sprint finish between Mary Keitany and Jemima Sumgong. Keitany, a few strides behind with only 2K remaining, caught up and passed Sumgong in the final kilometre. It was also her first NYC Marathon title.
“For me towards the end, after 40K, I knew Jemima was there, and I thought to close the gap with Jemima, and I would see if I would go she would go,” said Keitany.
“When I was a few kilometres away, I just closed the gap, and I see if I go I might win the race.”
Further back in the results were other exciting stories. American athletes Meb Keflezighi and Deena Kastor shone at the ages of 39 and 41, respectively. Keflezighi, who stunned the Boston Marathon field in the spring with his unexpected victory, finished an impressive fourth on Sunday after leading a large portion of the race. Kastor, the American record-holder in the marathon, finished 11th.
Keflezighi noted after the race that he realized when Kipsang made his move late in the race he knew he couldn’t respond, though he was happy to give the spectators in New York something to cheer about. He was glad he’s still able to run with the best in the world, beating course record-holder Geoffrey Mutai and reigning world and Olympic champ Stephen Kiprotich.
The top Canadian finishers were New Brunswick’s Paula Keating and Alister Gardner of Bromont, Que. Keating, 48, ran 2:56:06 and holds many of New Brunswick’s age-class records. Gardner ran 2:36:47.