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Peres Jepchirchir becomes first Olympic champion to win New York City Marathon

Kenya's Albert Korir, who finished second in 2019, won the men's race; Kenenisa Bekele finished well off the podium, in sixth place

On a cool, sunny morning in New York City, 30,000 runners took the streets of the Big Apple for the 50th anniversary of the TCS New York City Marathon. After 42.2 kilometres through the five boroughs, it was Tokyo Olympic gold medallist, Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir who won the women’s race in 2:22:39 and Kenya’s Albert Korir, who came second in the 2019 race, won the men’s race in 2:08:22. The top Canadian finisher was Lanni Marchant, who finished 11th in the women’s race in 2:32:54.

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The women’s race

The women maintained a large lead pack for the first half of the race, and it wasn’t until nearly 24 kilometres in that Jepchirchir began to push the pace, dropping a few athletes, including Tokyo Olympian Sally Kipyegooff the back of the lead group.

By mile 20, Jepchirchir, former half-marathon world record-holder Ababel Yeshaneh and Kenya’s Viola Cheptoo (runing her debut marathon at 32) broke away from the rest of the pack, with Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga and Seidel about 10 seconds behind in the chase pack. As they entered Central Park for the last few kilometres, the trio of women was still right in step with each other, and it was anyone’s race. Jepchirchir turned on the gas in the final kilometre to break away from the pack, with Cheptoo hot on her heels. The Tokyo gold medallist was victorious again, and Jepchirchir crossed the line in 2:22:39 for the win, five seconds ahead of Cheptoo and only eight seconds off of the course record set by Margaret Okayo in 2003. Cheptoo took second place in 2:22:44 followed by Yeshaneh in 2:22:52.

“The course was not easy, but toward the finish line, I felt something I haven’t felt before,” says Jepchirchir. “I had an energy, and I don’t know where it came from.”

Lanni Marchant
Photo: Tim Meigs

Seidel crossed the line in fourth place in 2:24:42, a new American course record. The previous American course record was held by Kara Goucher in 2:25:53, which she set in 2008 when she won the bronze medal. Marchant ran a beautiful race, and was the top Canadian finisher in 11th place in 2:32:54. Rachel Hannah finished 16th in 2:39:15 and Kate Gustafson was 22nd in 2:45:48.

Women’s top 10:

  1. Peres Jepchirchir, Kenya, 2:22:39
  2. Viola Cheptoo, Kenya, 2:22:44
  3. Ababel Yeshaneh, Ethiopia, 2:22:52
  4. Molly Seidel, U.S.A., 2:24:42
  5. Helalia Johannes, NAM, 2:26:09
  6. Kellyn Taylor, U.S.A., 2:26:10
  7. Annie Frisbie, U.S.A., 2:26:18
  8. Laura Thweatt, U.S.A., 2:27:00
  9. Grace Kahura, Kenya, 2:30:32
  10. Stephanie Bruce, U.S.A., 2:31:05

The men’s race

Podium favourites Kenenisa Bekele and Olympic silver medallist Abdi Nageeye started out conservatively and were 43 seconds behind the leaders by the halfway mark. Italy’s Eyob Faniel and Morocco’s Mohammed El Aaraby led the pack through 25K, with Korir and several other athletes close behind them in the chase pack.

It was Korir, El Araby, and Faniel who eventually broke away from the field, and Korir literally jumped through the tape, finishing in 2:08:22. El Aaraby followed behind him in second in 2:09:06, and Faniel in third in 2:09:52.

“It was not an easy race, but I enjoyed it,” says Korir. “I tried to push it at the end, and it was good.”

Bekele finished a distant 6th in 2:12:52, and Nageeye finished 5th in 2:11:39.

Men’s top 10

  1. Albert Korir, Kenya, 2:08:22
  2. Mohammed El Aaraby, Morocco, 2:09:06
  3. Eyob Faniel, Italy, 2:09:52
  4. Elkaneh Kibet, U.S.A., 2:11:15
  5. Abdi Nageeye, NED, 2:11:39
  6. Kenenisa Bekele, ETH, 2:12:52
  7. Ben True, U.S.A., 2:12:53
  8. Nathan Martin, U.S.A., 2:12:57
  9. Kibiwott Kandie, Kenya, 2:13:43
  10. Jared Ward, U.S.A., 2:15:06

The wheelchair division

Switzerland’s Marcel Hug, the wheelchair marathon world record-holder, took a commanding lead early in the race and was more than three minutes ahead of the field by 10K. He held onto his lead for the entire 42.2 kilometres, and won the race in 1:31:24. David Weir of the U.K. took second place in 1:38:01 and Daniel Romanchuk of the U.S. followed in 1:38:22. With his win today, Hug has officially surpassed Romanchuk in the Abbott World Majors Series X standings, and will be taking home the US$100,000 prize purse for first-place.

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It was a much closer race on the women’s side, with the top three athletes maintaining a tight pack for the first half. Australia’s Madison de Rozario was victorious in 1:51:01, making her the first-ever Australian para-athlete to win the New York Marathon. American Tatyana McFadden finsihed behind her in 1:53:59 for second place, only three seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Manuela Schär, who rounded out the podium in 1:54:02.