Wilson Kipsang, a former world marathon record holder, has won the New York City marathon, overcoming his own doubts that he could win a strategic race on such a hilly course.
The Kenyan star had entered his first New York City Marathon to challenge himself, and says he actually had to make himself slow down.
“I had to really exercise a lot of patience,” he said.
Kipsang pulled away in the final mile for his third major marathon title in just over 13 months. Mary Keitany also took the lead late in the women’s race for a Kenyan sweep.
Kipsang’s record-setting victories in Berlin and London were on flat courses with the aid of a pacemaker, very different from Sunday’s race.
“It was very tactical,” Kipsang said. “So it was not easy.”
He finished in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 55 seconds – the slowest winning time in New York since 1995, and more than seven and a half minutes off the world record he set just over a year ago in Berlin.
Keitany tried a very different tactic in her last NYC Marathon, surging ahead to a huge early lead in 2011. She was caught that day and had to settle for her second straight third-place finish.
But this time, Keitany held back. She and countrywoman Jemima Sumgong entered Central Park side by side, and Sumgong appeared to be pulling away with just over a mile left.
But Keitany had one last burst left and won by three seconds, matching the tightest finish in the history of the women’s race.
Keitany, a two-time London Marathon champ, hadn’t run a marathon since 2012 because of the birth of her second child.
“I worked hard for this opportunity,” she said. “I’m happy because I have a victory today, because I know I’ve been coming to New York two times, and I was in that position. So I’m happy today because it was a good day and I win.”
A record 50,881 runners started the 44th edition of the NYC Marathon. It was so windy that the wheelchair race – won by Australia’s Kurt Fearnley – started at the three-mile mark.
Kipsang wound up beating Desisa by 11 seconds in the men’s race, while another Ethiopian, 2010 NYC Marathon winner Gebre Gebremariam, was third.
The reigning Boston Marathon champ, American Meb Keflezighi, took fourth. It was the fourth top-four finish in New York for the 39-year-old Keflezighi, who won in 2009.
Geoffrey Mutai, seeking to become the first man to win three straight NYC Marathons since Alberto Salazar in 1980-82, faded back to sixth.
Tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, running her first marathon at the end of a gruelling season, finished in an impressive 3:26.