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Geoffrey Kamworor narrowly wins first career marathon in NYC

The two-time IAAF World Cross-Country Championships individual gold medallist wins the first marathon of his career at the 2017 New York City Marathon

Geoffrey Kamworor
Geoffrey Kamworor
Photo: Kelly Doyle.

Known globally as a prodigy in the marathon, Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor won his first Abbott World Marathon Major on Sunday at the 2017 New York City Marathon.

RELATED: NYC Marathon women’s recap.

The 24-year-old had run seven marathons previously, with zero wins, and prevailed over former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang in the Big Apple to win the world’s largest marathon. The win wasn’t a certainty – it never is in a marathon – in the final 100m as Kipsang sprinted and nearly caught a tiring Kamworor up the final hill to the finish line.

Kamworor, a two-time gold medallist at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships, clocked 2:10:53, well off of his 2:06:12 PB, for the win, three seconds ahead of Kipsang with two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa in third. American Meb Keflezighi, in what was his last-ever marathon, finished 11th in 2:15:29.

Top-10 results

1 5 Geoffrey Kamworor KEN 2:10:53
2 4 Wilson Kipsang KEN 2:10:56
3 7 Lelisa Desisa ETH 2:11:32
4 6 Lemi Berhanu ETH 2:11:52
5 10 Tadesse Abraham SUI 2:12:01
6 14 Michel Butter NED 2:12:39
7 3 Abdi Abdirahman USA 2:12:48
8 16 Koen Naert BEL 2:13:21
9 442 Fikadu Girma Teferi ETH 2:13:58
10 12 Shadrack Biwott USA 2:14:57

The men’s race had a fast pace early on with a group of less than 15 runners gapping the field almost immediately across the bridge but it slowed once runners settled in. Keying off the lead pace early was Keflezighi, who raced his 26th, and final, competitive marathon of his career as the only man in history to have won an Olympic marathon medal as well as the New York City and Boston Marathons. (The 42-year-old – for every kilometre of the race – raced one marathon for every mile of the race.)

The first 5K split was 16:15, or 2:17 pace. For perspective, the course record is 2:05:06. American Abdi Abdirahman, who finished third in NYC in 2016, fell at the first water station but recovered though he lost ground on the leaders.

The men went through 10K in 31:55 with Keflezighi taking a turn at the front along with defending champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie. The 15K split was 47:16 for the leaders. The Eritrean 21-year-old accelerated at the halfway point, passing through in 1:06:09 in what looked like a sprint seen in the final 400m of a track race. As he had done earlier in the race, he slowed again and was reconnected with the chase pack. (Ghebreslassie was a DNF.)

Geoffrey Kamworor
Photo: Kelly Doyle.

As was the case in the women’s race, there was little change at the front of the men’s race, clocking 1:18:27 at 25K. Fast forward to between 35-40K and four men remained – Geoffrey Kamworor, Lemi Berhanu, Lelisa Desisa and Kipsang – before Kamworor, a dominant figure on the world cross-country scene was able to carve out a sizeable lead, which he almost relinquished over the final kilometres of the race.

The professional women’s field began at 9:20 a.m. EST with the professional men and mass start, beginning with wave one, following at 9:50 a.m. The point-to-point race begins at Staten Island and finishes in Central Park after passing through the five boroughs of New York City – Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and, finally, Manhattan.

New York City Marathon coverage presented by New Balance.