Kenyans Kipsang, Keitany Win NYC Marathon

By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom

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

YORK (02-Nov) — It came down to the final mile to determine both the
men’s and women’s champions here at the 44th running of the TCS New
York City Marathon, as Kenyans Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany broke
the tape with glee here in Central Park. Kipsang escaped from Ethiopian
Lelisa Desisa after exchanging words in Central Park, going on to win
in 2:10:55 and taking the World Marathon Majors title in the process.
Keitany eclipsed compatriot Jemima Sumgong after battling both each
other and strong winds for more than four miles, 2:25:07 her winning


splitting halfway in 1:06:56, one could throw a blanket over the entire
fifteen-person men’s lead pack — and they may have needed the added
warmth. With harsh winds blowing and temperatures in the lower 40’s
(F), those up front covered themselves in hats, gloves, and arm
warmers. No one wanted to break and face the elements alone out front,
so the main group clipped through miles in Brooklyn and Queens at a
pedestrian pace.

American Meb Keflezighi, the 2009 champion
here and this year’s Boston Marathon winner, took a turn at the front
early on, as did Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi. Yet many of the contenders like
Kipsang, Desisa, and Ethiopia’s Gebre Gebremariam remained content to
tuck in.

“The race course is really very nice, and it was very
windy, but it was more tactical because you find that all through, the
guys, no one was really ready to take the lead because of the strong
wind,” said Kipsang. “But I think that because in such a race we really
tried our best to keep the time [honest], but it wasn’t possible.”

the 14th mile, it was Kipsang briefly showing his cards, taking the
front duties. Slipping back into the group shortly thereafter, the
leaders continuously split miles in the 5:05 range.

Despite the
slow pace –which for a while indicated a 2:12:30 or higher finish
time– the pack eventually would break up. Between 35-K and 40-K,
Kipsang and Desisa charged away and ultimately reached Columbus Circle
alone. Re-entering Central Park, it appeared like the race would be a
photo finish.

That was until Kipsang turned to his side and uttered words to Desisa, as if playing games.

[Desisa] came from this other side, then he brushed on my shoulder this
other side. Then I was telling him what happened, and there’s a lot of
space,” explained Kipsang.

As if the encounter was motivation
to begin his kick, Kipsang quickly sped away from his challenger to get
the win. It was the slowest winning here time since German Silva ran
2:11:00 in 1995.

“I decided now to sprint because I saw the
finish was very close, and the speed was very high,” Kipsang said.
“When I saw that Lelisa was running really close to me, I had to save
energy for the closing kick.”

With the win, Kipsang picked up
25 World Marathon Majors points and overtook compatriot Dennis Kimetto
atop the series leaderboard. With the 2013/2014 WMM series coming to a
close in New York, Kipsang wins $500,000 in addition to the $100,000
earned by winning today’s race. When asked if he was thinking about the
money, Kipsang said of course.

“I know the only chance I had
was to win. So I was really ready. My preparation was very good,” said
Kipsang, who has now won marathon titles in New York, London, Berlin,
Frankfurt, Otsu, and Honolulu over the course of his career.

went to Desisa in 2:11:06, with 2010 winner Gebre Gebremariam finishing
third in 2:12:13. Desisa battled stomach issues beginning at 15

“At the 15-K, I want the bathroom. My bladder is
full. Maybe this is to release, the bathroom. Because of that, I
thought throughout,” Desisa explained, noting that he contemplated
stopping. “Then after 21-K, 30K, it change to my stomach is become big,
because I have no relax.”

The top American was Keflezighi,
fourth in 2:13:18. It was a vast improvement from a year ago, when the
three-time Olympian finished 23rd in 2:23:47.

“The race, deep,
strong, windy, challenging, tactical. You know, I just tried to mix it
up. I knew it was going to be tactical,” said Keflezighi, who ran out
front for while to the cheers of many New Yorkers. “I love being in the
front. You always want to get to the finish line first, but at the same
time, it’s just to inspire others and be up in front and give the New
Yorkers something to cheer for, and I felt I’ve done that.

gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich and two-time TCS New York City Marathon
champion Geoffrey Mutai were fifth and sixth in 2:13:25 and 2:13:44,
respectively. Americans Ryan Vail and Nick Arciniaga cracked the top
ten, taking ninth and tenth in 2:15:08 and 2:15:39.


her pre-race press conference, Mary Keitany said she learned a harsh
lesson in 2011, when the she went out at world record pace and faded
miserably in the second half. This year, the 32-year-old mother of two
bided her time until the final mile, surging decisively in the last
kilometer to defeat Jemima Sumgong.

“I worked hard for this
opportunity,” said Keitany at the post-race press conference. “I’m
happy because I have a victory today.”

Through halfway in
1:13:42, a group of roughly ten women were packed together, including
past champions Jelena Prokopcuka, Firehiwot Dado, and Edna Kiplagat. It
would stay a pack affair through 30-K, with Buzunesh Deba and
Portugal’s Sara Moreira finding themselves toward the front. Moreira
and Morocco’s Rkia El Moukim were somewhat surprisingly at the head of
the field, as both were making their marathon debuts.

miles 22 and 23, Keitany and Sumgong got anxious, increasing the tempo
suddenly to a 5:22 clip. No one else responded with vigor, and the pair
rattled a subsequent mile in 5:10. At one point, Sumgong led by around
five meters. But Keitany held tough.

In Central Park, the pair
batted side-by-side in a scene reminiscent of when Meb Keflezighi and
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot dueled in 2009. Running step for step, the
tandem left the park, passed Columbus Circle, and re-entered the park
in sync, with not a meter between them.

With that, the women’s
race would be decided in the final 400 meters. With flags of the
world’s nations flanking them on either side and spectators cheering
loud, Keitany broke from Sumgong racing up the final uphill stretch
towards the finish tape. Pumping her arms just a tad bit faster than
she had earlier in the race, Keitany stopped the clock in 2:25:07, 2.3
seconds up on Sumgong in the closest finish in TCS New York City
Marathon history.

“I’m happy today because it was a good day
and I win,” said the quiet Keitany. “So I’m happy, and I thank God for
that. Thank you so much.”

Sumgong crossed the line in 2:25:10, pleased to finish on the podium on such a tough day for racing.

the closing miles, my target was to win, but it was Mary’s day. That
was my target when we were pushing with Mary,” said Sumgong. “New York
Marathon is different that other marathons I have attended.”

was third in 2:26:00, followed by Prokopcuka (2:26:15) and American
Desi Linden. In her New York City debut, Linden timed 2:28:11.

was pretty happy overall. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure what place I
was in at the end. I was like, honestly, this isn’t going very well.
Once I fell off that pack at 19, it got a lot more difficult,” said
Linden. “When I saw I was fifth, I was a lot more happy with the
overall performance.”

Many notable finishers placed outside of
the top six. Dado, the winner in 2011, took seventh (2:28:36), local
favorite Deba was ninth (2:31:40), and 2010 champion Edna Kiplagat was
a distant 13th in 2:36:24. Deba had been sick several weeks ago and had
contemplated scratching from the race.

Among the Americans,
Annie Bersagel was tenth (2:33:02), Deena Kastor (41) eleventh
(2:33:18), and Kara Goucher 14th (2:37:03). In tears and holding her
son Colt, Goucher told ESPN that she took a gamble by going with the
leaders from the get go, opting to run in a pack so that the wind
wouldn’t impact her early on.

“I was by myself and just really
hit the wall for the first time in my career and really struggled. But
I had some encouragement from people like Deena that went by,” Goucher
told members of the media.

Notably, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki finished the five borough race in 3:26:33.

Gebre Gebremariam, Wilson Kipsang and Lelisa Desisa atop the podium
after the 2014 TCS NYC Marathon (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results

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