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Jeptoo Sets Course Record in 3rd Boston Win

JEPTOO EARNS THIRD BOSTON MARATHON CROWN WITH SENSATIONAL COURSE RECORD
By Chris Lotsbom; @ChrisLotsbom

(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)

BOSTON
(21-Apr) — Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo raced her way into the history books
here at the 118th Boston Marathon, claiming victory in a course record
of 2:18:57. It was the third time in eight years that Jeptoo, 33, broke
the finish tape on Boylston Street.

“I was not expecting to run fast like today,” said Jeptoo, a twinkle in her eye. “Today the race was like on fire!”

From
the get-go in Hopkinton, it was American Shalane Flanagan bursting to
the lead, pacing the field through five kilometers in 16:12 and ten
kilometers in 32:32, well ahead of course record pace. A native of
Marblehead, Mass., some 14 miles northeast of Boston, Flanagan was
determined to run her own race, taking off at a blazing clip.

Motivated
by her hometown pride and thoughts of last year’s terrorist bombings at
the marathon’s finish line, Flanagan wanted to become the first
American to win since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach in 1985.

“I have a
good friend (1983 Boston Marathon champion) Joan Benoit Samuelson and
for three years she’s told me to run my own race,” Flanagan told
members of the media. “Today, I wanted to go out and do just that. I
wanted to see if it was good enough to win the olive wreath.”

Rattling
off mile after mile in the 5:10 to 5:25 range, Flanagan seemed poised
through the halfway point in 1:09:25. There she was joined by seven
others –all of East African decent– including reigning champion
Jeptoo, Ethiopians Buzunesh Deba and Mare Dibaba, as well as Kenyan
Jemima Jelagat Sumgong.

Chants of “USA! USA!” continued to rain
down on Flanagan and the group with each step, the hopes of a city,
state, and country riding on the 32-year-old’s slender shoulders.

Those
dreams of an American victory took a turn with the arrival of the
infamous Newton hills from miles 17 to 21. By then, Flanagan seemed to
be feeling her hot early pace; she was the only one of the lead pack to
hold her elite fluid bottles for more than a minute and a half, taking
quick sips one after the other before tossing the bottle to the ground
with gusto.

Approaching Boston College and the summit of
Heartbreak Hill (around 21 miles/33.8 kilometers), Flanagan began to
fade. With a quick surge, Dibaba and her East African counterparts left
Flanagan in their wake. Before she could blink an eye, Flanagan found
herself more than 30 seconds behind.

The next big move would
come between miles 22 and 23, when Jeptoo sensed it was her time to go.
Making a decisive move, Jeptoo upped the tempo before blasting the 24th
mile in 4:47. From then on, her only competition would be the chasing
Green Line Trolley, which cruised along her left shoulder before
suffering the same fate as her rivals.

To the cheers of
thousands, Jeptoo came through Kenmore Square then completed the final
two turns on Hereford and Boylston Streets, seeing the finish tape in
front of her. When she crossed the line with 2:18:57 reading on the
clock, she had shattered Margaret Okayo’s 2002 course record of 2:20:43
by close to two minutes and became the sixth woman ever to break 2:19.

“The
race today was very very hard. So I’m not thinking I would expect to
try like today,” she would say, paying homage to Flanagan’s early
effort. “But today I pushed all today and my time is my best time here
in Boston.”

Speaking with Race Results Weekly last Friday,
Jeptoo said earning her third Boston Marathon crown would be extra
special, ranking her among the race’s all-time greatest athletes:
Kenyan Catherine Ndereba (four titles), Ethiopia’s Fatuma Roba (three),
Germany’s Uta Pippig (three), and Portugal’s Rosa Mota (three).

“It’s
not easy to win three times and be a champion, but I mean today I’m
just happy,” said Jeptoo, who picked up $150,000 for finishing first
plus $25,000 for establishing a new course record. “I don’t have
anything to say but that I’m happy.”

Finishing in second was
Deba, recording a personal best time of 2:19:59. It is Deba’s third
consecutive runner-up finish at a World Marathon Majors event (second
at the 2013 and 2011 TCS New York City Marathons). Rounding out the top
three was Dibaba in 2:20:35. Both were under Okayo’s previous course
record.

Coming home in seventh was Flanagan, recording the
fastest American time in race history by 36 seconds, 2:22:02. Although
it was more than a three minute personal best, Flanagan was
disappointed that she couldn’t bring home the victory for her beloved
hometown crowd.

“It does mean a lot to me that my city is proud
of me, so yeah. I’m proud of how I ran and like I said, I don’t wish it
was easier. I just wish I was better. It was a really heartfelt effort
today,” she said, tears welling in her eyes.

Flanagan, who was
the first elite athlete to commit to run this year’s Boston Marathon
only three days after the 2013 edition, said she’ll return to Boston
every year until she claims the laurel wreath. Drawing motivation from
men’s champion Meb Keflezighi –the first American men’s winner since
Greg Meyer in 1983– Flanagan assured that she has many more high
quality marathons left in her legs.

“I will take away a three
minute PR and more, so that’s a good step forward,” she said. “I look
up to people like Meb, who has had a really lengthy career. I don’t
know what Boston this was for him, but it took a few steps for him to
get it right.”

Also of note, American Olympian and 2011 Boston
Marathon runner-up Desiree Linden finished tenth in 2:23:54, an
improbable time for that position (previous best 10th place here was
2:27:00). Colorado’s Adriana Nelson was 15th in 2:31:15. Past champions
Sharon Cherop and Caroline Kilel placed eighth and 17th in 2:23:00 and
2:32:04, respectively. Lidia Simon, the 2000 Olympic Marathon silver
medalist from Romania, won the masters competition in 2:36:47.

The 2015 Boston Marathon will be held on Monday, April 20th.

PHOTO:
Rita Jeptoo has Hereford Street to herself with about 800 meters to go
in the 2014 Boston Marathon

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