| ||Associated Press|
BOSTON -- First, it was the Kenyan men. Now, even the women
are winning the Boston Marathon.
Kenya's domination in Boston extended to a record 10 consecutive
victories Monday, as Elijah Lagat outkicked Ethiopia's Gezahenge
Abera and Kenya's Moses Tanui in the closest finish in the race's
Lagat and Abera were both timed in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 47
seconds, with Tanui three seconds back.
The women's ending wasn't as close but it was still the same: A
Kenyan wearing the laurel wreath.
Catherine Ndereba, competing in only her third marathon, pulled
away in the final mile and became the first Kenyan winner, at
2:26:11. Ndereba thwarted the bid of Ethiopia's Fatuma Roba to
become the first competitor -- male or female -- to win the race four
The struggling Roba finished third at 2:26:27, the same time as
runner-up Irina Bogacheva of Kyrgyzstan, who came from behind and
nipped her in the final stride.
Like the men, the women's finish was the closest ever between
the top two and among the top three runners.
"I'm not only happy to win, but I'm going to the Olympics and
represent my country," said Lagat, who took up running
professionally only after his doctor told him in 1992 that he had a
heart condition and might die.
With this race being an Olympic qualifier for the Kenyan men's
Olympic team, Lagat and Tanui earned places on the squad, joining
Kenneth Cheruyiot, winner of Sunday's Rotterdam Marathon.
The 33-year-old Lagat said his doctor warned him that he had a
lot of fat around his heart and urged him to lose weight. At the
time, he weighed 158½ pounds. Now, he weighs 125½.
"After I started running, my heart problem disappeared," he
said. "I'm OK now."
Make that sensational.
Staying with the lead pack throughout the race that was slowed
by headwinds and cold, the persistent Lagat came into the final
stretch locked in a dramatic duel with Abera and Tanui, the 1996
and 1998 winner.
The three exchanged the lead a couple of times, and with less
than a half-mile remaining, it appeared Tanui would go on to his
But Lagat was not to be denied, and his final surge enabled him
to edge the charging Abera as Tanui faded.
Abera, running on his 22nd birthday, contended the Kenyans were
kicking and pushing him.
"I can't say it was intentional," he said, "but it was a
strain on my muscles."
Tanui, the most experienced runner in the men's elite field,
admitted he made his move too early.
"Everybody gets to make a mistake, and that was my mistake,"
the 34-year-old Kenyan said. "I felt strong at the end, but I was
The victory was the third of Lagat's career. He won the 1997
Berlin Marathon in a career-best 2:07:41 and the 1998 Prague
Marathon at 2:08:52. In his previous marathon, he finished sixth at
New York in November.
The 1999 Boston and New York winner, Joseph Chebet of Kenya,
finished eighth at 2:12:20.
Overall, Kenyans took seven of the top 10 places. Their winning
streak began in 1991 with Ibrahim Hussein. The last non-Kenyan
winner was Seoul Olympic champion Gelindo Bordin of Italy in 1990.
Jamie Hibell, of Bethlehem, Pa., was the top American finisher,
arriving 24th with a time of 2:22:09.
Ndereba, a 27-year-old mother of a 2-year-old girl, was not
among the leaders early but began reeling in them after the halfway
point en route to her first marathon victory.
"I had confidence that I was going to do the last half in less
than 73 minutes," she said. "I have a best time of 69 minutes for
the half-marathon. I had confidence I could do it in 1:10."
Nevertheless, Ndereba, who was sixth in her Boston debut last
year and second at New York six months ago, didn't think she could
end Roba's magnificent reign.
"To beat her was something I did not expect," she said.
Tears streamed down Ndereba's face during the playing of the
Kenyan national anthem after the race.
"I was surprised," she said. "I was very happy and
Ndereba's victory probably earned her the final place on the
Kenyan women's Olympic team alongside world record-holder Tegla
Loroupe and Joyce Chepchumba, the 1-3 finishers in Sunday's London
"The Olympics has been one of my goals and that's what I've
been looking for all these years," Ndereba said. "I've run in a
lot of important races, but I've never represented my country in a
Ndereba proved she could run with the best. She caught Roba, the
1996 Olympic champion, about 21.7 miles into the 26.2-mile race and
ran with her until the final mile. Then Ndereba bolted ahead.
Obviously tiring and eager to finish, Roba kept looking behind
to see if anyone was approaching. It was Bogacheva.
Chipping away consistently at Roba's advantage, the 38-year-old
Bogacheva made one final lunge at the finish to take second place.
Roba said she didn't have any physical problems but was bothered
by the wind, which was 13 mph at the start, and the temperatures in
The winners earned $80,000 each from the total purse of
The field of 17,813 was the second-largest in history, behind
only the 38,708 who started the centennial event in 1996.
Franz Nietlispach of Switzerland extended his winning streak to
four in the men's wheelchair division, winning by more than five
minutes at 1:33:32, the slowest winning time since 1989.
Jean Driscoll of Champaign, Ill., won her eighth wheelchair
title at 2:00:53, the slowest since 1988, ending the three-race
winning streak of Louise Savage of Australia.
|Elijah Lagat hits the tape just a fraction ahead of Gezahenge Abera.|| |
Boston Marathon results
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Two able-bodied Boston wheelchair entrants DQ'd
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Catherine Ndereba wins the women's Boston Marathon.
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Elijah Lagat wins the men's Boston Marathon.
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