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Tamirat Tola sets NYC Marathon record; Hellen Obiri wins women's race

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Tamirat Tola wins the New York City Marathon with course record (0:42)

Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia sets a course record to finish in first place of the men's open division of the 2023 New York City Marathon. (0:42)

Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia set a course record to win the New York City Marathon men's race on Sunday, while Hellen Obiri of Kenya pulled away in the final 400 meters to take the women's title.

Tola finished in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 58 seconds, topping the 2:05:06 set by Geoffrey Mutai in 2011. Tola pulled away from countryman Jemal Yimer when the pair were heading toward the Bronx at Mile 20. By the time he headed back into Manhattan a mile later, Tola led by 19 seconds and was chasing Mutai's mark.

Tola, who had two prior fourth-place finishes in New York, hoisted his arms aloft as he claimed his first World Marathon major title after taking third in London earlier this year.

"The people of New York [are] amazing," Tola said. "I work hard training, so it is confidence for me."

Kenyan Albert Korir finished second in 2:06:57, while Ethiopian Shura Kitata was third in 2:07:11. Yimer fell back to finish in ninth.

While the men's race was well decided before the last few miles, the women's race came down to the final stretch. Obiri, Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia and defending champion Sharon Lokedi were all running together exchanging the lead. Obiri made a move as the trio headed back into Central Park for the final half-mile and finished in 2:27:23. Gidey finished second, 6 seconds behind. Lokedi finished third in 2:27:33.

Obiri added the New York victory to her win at the Boston Marathon in April. She is the first woman to win those two marathons in the same year since Norwegian Ingrid Kristiansen did it in 1989.

"My first debut here was terrible for me," said Obiri, who finished sixth last year. "Sometimes you learn from your mistakes. ... Finally, I made it."

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Hellen Obiri wins the New York City Marathon

Hellen Obiri of Kenya finishes in first place of women's open division of the 2023 New York City Marathon.

A stellar women's field was thought to potentially take down the course record of 2:22:31 set by Margaret Okayo in 2003. Unlike last year, when the weather was unseasonably warm with temperatures in the 70s, Sunday's race was much cooler in the 50s -- ideal conditions for record-breaking times.

Instead the women had a tactical race with 11 runners, including Americans Kellyn Taylor and Molly Huddle, in the lead pack for the first 20 miles. Taylor and Huddle both led the group at points before falling back and finishing in eighth and ninth.

"The first 20 miles, I was like what the heck was going on," Taylor said. "It was super weird, one of the weirdest races I ever ran with the caliber of talent in the field. There were talks of breaking the course record and doing all the things; after a bit it was like that's not going to happen. We're running six-minute pace for no good reasons. Sometimes that's how races play out. You can jump on board and do that or do your own thing. Today I just decided to jump onboard and try and hang on."

Once the lead group came back into Manhattan for the final few miles, Obiri, Gidey and Lokedi pushed the pace. As the trio entered Central Park, they further distanced themselves from Kenya's Brigid Kosgei, who finished fourth.

Catherine Debrunner of Switzerland won her New York debut, shattering the course record in the women's wheelchair race. She finished in 1:39.32, besting the previous mark by over 3 minutes, which was held by American Susannah Scaroni.

"It's difficult to describe in words. I said to my coach if I win this race, it's the best performance I ever showed," she said. "Knew it's the toughest marathon of all. It was the first time. I knew it was going to be so tough."

Debrunner and Tola both earned a $50,000 bonus for topping the previous course records.

Men's wheelchair race winner Marcel Hug nearly broke his record from last year, finishing in 1:25:29 to miss the mark by 3 seconds.

"It's incredible. I think it takes some time to realize what happened," Hug said after his sixth New York City victory. "I'm so happy as well."

Hug is the most decorated champion in the wheelchair race at the event, breaking a tie with Tatyana McFadden and Kurt Fearnley for most wins in the division in event history.

Daniel Romanchuk and Aaron Pike qualified for the 2024 Paris Paralympics by finishing as the top Americans in the men's wheelchair race. Scaroni and McFadden qualified on the women's side for the Olympics.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.