James Magayi @magayijim
Mary Keitany of Kenya and Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia won the New York City Marathon titles, with Keitany dominating the women’s side with a time of 2:22:48 and Desisa pulling away from a crowded lead pack at the event’s 25-mile mark to finish at 2:05:59.
The win was Keitany’s fourth in five years in one of the world’s premier distance events. Not since Norway’s Grete Waitz has a runner put together such a dominant stretch: Waitz won eight of nine marathons from 1978-86, the last six in a row. In addition to taking four of the past five events, Keitany finished second in last year’s marathon.
At the 2017 London Marathon, Keitany set a women’s world record with a time of 2:17:01. That paced Keitany’s third win in London since 2011, though she finished a disappointing fifth in this year’s event. Her time on Sunday was the second-best in New York City Marathon history.
Keitany was followed by Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot (2:26:02). Last year’s winner, the USA’s Shalane Flanagan, surged ahead of Ethiopia’s Rahma Tusa near the 25-mile mark to take third with a time of 2:26:22.
Keitany first began to pull away from the field at roughly the marathon’s halfway point. By the 19-mile mark, Keitany stood nearly 27 seconds ahead of Tusa and Ethiopia’s Netsanet Gudeta. That distance grew to 54 seconds by the 20-mile mark. By mile 22, Keitany’s edge grew to an insurmountable 1:57.
The women’s side was notable for the strong performance by USA runners. After Flanagan came Molly Huddle (2:26:44) in fourth, Desiree Linden (2:27:51) in sixth and Allie Kieffer (2:28:12) in seventh, marking the first time in the event’s history that four American women finished in the top seven.
The men’s side was far more competitive, highlighted by a blazing series of times from the top three finishers of Desisa, Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata (2:06:01) and Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor (2:06:26). Each of those times stand among the 10 fastest in the event’s history.
It was the first win in New York for Desisa, joining wins at the Boston Marathon in 2013 and 2015. He finished second in New York in 2014 and third in both 2015 and 2017.
The women’s race was also close until the waning stages with Ethiopian Tadelech Bekele successfully defending her title in 2:23:14 ahead of compatriots Shasho Insermu (2:23:28) and Azmera Gebru (2:23:31).