ATHLETICS: Keitany cruises to fourth New York City Marathon title

Another New York City Marathon for Kenya's Mary Keitany on Sunday?

Kenya’s Mary Keitany, one of the greatest women marathoners in history, placed her name next to marathon legends Grete Waitz and Bill Rodgers in winning her fourth TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday.

Only those three have won this race four (or more) times, and Keitany dominated the field, thinning the lead pack from nine to two between the halfway mark and 18 miles, with only Ethiopia’s Rahma Tusa still close. Then Keitany took off, running miles of 4:54 and 5:00 for a 54-second lead at the 20 mile mark. Her lead reached 1:56 by 22 miles, 2:34 by 24 miles and she finally won by 3:13 over Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot, who had beaten her at the London Marathon after Keitany took over early at world-record pace and then blew up.

Cheruiyot took second at the 23-mile mark, forcing Tusa into third. In the meantime, American Shalane Flanagan, the defending champion, was coming up steadily and passed Tusa for third at the 25-mile mark, and the top three finished that way. American Molly Huddle passed a tiring Tusa in the 26th mile and finished fourth, with Tusa fifth.

Keitany’s run was brilliant and her time of 2:22:48 was the second-fastest in New York City Marathon history, behind only the course record of 2:22:31 by Margaret Okayo (KEN) in 2003. Keitany’s previous New York best was 2:33:38 back in 2011 (for third). And she ran 2:25:07, 2:24:25 and 2:24:26 for her 2014-15-16 wins.

“I didn’t want to rush at the beginning to suffer at the end,” said Keitany. “I wanted to be comfortable so I could be strong at the finish.” He mid-race surge demolished a good field.

The U.S. women’s marathon corps showed well in this race with Flanagan – in perhaps her last race at age 37 – finishing third, Huddle (34) fourth, Boston winner Des Linden (35) sixth and Allie Kieffer (31) in seventh, all at 2:28:12 or better.

The men’s race had a lot more drama, with defending champion Geoffrey Kamworer (KEN) in control of a pack including Ethiopians Shura Kitata, Lelisa Desisa and Tamirat Tola and Kenya’s Festus Talam at the halfway mark in 1:03:55. Talam was the first to drop back, at 21 miles, then Tola had to let go a mile later.

That left Kamworer, Desisa and Kitata together and then Kitata fell off the pace by 24 miles and it was a two-man race to the finish … or so it seemed. Kamworer and Desisa ran stride for stride until less than a mile was left and then Desisa took off. Kamworer couldn’t respond and began looking behind him, and found Kitata moving well and catching up fast.

Desisa, who had finished 2-3-3 in New York in 2014-15-17, continued strongly to the finish in 2:05:59, the second fastest time in the history of the race, with only Geoffrey Mutai (KEN) faster at 2:05:06 in 2011. Desisa was closing in on him too, but ended up two seconds short (!) at 2:06:01, the no. 3 performance in race history. Kamworer’s 2:06:26 was no. 4 and more than four minutes faster than his winning mark of 2:10:53 in 2017.

“I am very, very satisfied to be the champion,” said Desisa. “I have finished on the podium before and this time I did such hard training, but with everything under control. Today is my day. Thank you, New York.”

American Bernard Lagat made his marathon debut in New York and finished 18th in 2:17:20.

The prize purse for 2018 was a minimum of $825,000, with the top 10 places receiving $100,000-60,000-40,000-25,000-15,000-10,000-7,500-5,000-2,500-2,000. But Desisa earned an additional time bonus of $45,000 and Kitata and Kamworer both won an additional $40,000 for their marks. Tola’s 2:08:30 earned him a bonus of $15,000.

Sixth-placer Jared Ward was the top American and earned a U.S.-finisher bonus of $25,000, with 15,000-10,000-5,000-3,000 for the next four American men.

Keitany’s fabulous time was worth a bonus of $45,000, and Cheruiyot, Flanagan and Huddle each got $10,000 extra for running sub-2:27. The American-finisher bonuses for the women rewarded Flanagan, Huddle, Linden, Kieffer and Stephanie Bruce (2:30:59).


World Marathon Majors/TCS New York City Marathon
New York, New York (USA) ~ 4 November 2018
(Full results here)

Men: 1. Lelisa Desisa (ETH), 2:05:59; 2. Shura Kitata (ETH), 2:06:01; 3. Geoffrey Kamworer (KEN), 2:06:26; 4. Tamirat Tola (ETH), 2:08:30; 5. Daniel Wanjiru (KEN), 2:10:21; 6. Jared Ward (USA), 2:12:24; 7. Scott Fauble (USA), 2:12:28; 8. Festus Talam (LEN), 2:12:40; 9. Shadrack Biwott (USA), 2:12:52; 10. Chris Derrick (USA), 2:13:08.

Women: 1. Mary Keitany (KEN), 2:22:48; 2. Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN), 2:26:02; 3. Shalane Flanagan (USA), 2:26:22; 4. Molly Huddle (USA), 2:26:44; 5. Rahma Tusa (ETH), 2:27:13; 6. Des Linden (USA), 2:27:51; 7. Allie Kieffer (USA), 2:28:12; 8. Lisa Weightman (AUS), 2:29:11; 9. Mamitu Daska (ETH), 2:30:31; 10. Belaynesh Fikadu (ETH), 2:30:47.