Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the TCS New York City Marathon in 40 years, while Geoffrey Kamworor claimed a maiden victory over 26.2 miles on Sunday [November 5].
Ignoring the script which had Mary Keitany down as a strong favourite going for her fourth consecutive victory, Flanagan timed her finishing surge to perfection to move away over the final few miles and finish more than a minute clear, clocking 2:26:53 to the Kenyan’s 2:27:54.
Kamworor, meanwhile, also used a strong finish to see off Wilson Kipsang in the last two miles and although the former world record-holder managed to close the gap, he just ran out of road. Kamworor’s first ever marathon win – which he adds to a CV including world cross country and half-marathon titles – was secured in a time of 2:10:53 as his fellow Kenyan finished just three seconds later.
The last US winner of the women’s race had been Miki Gorman in 1977 and Flanagan was emotional as she reflected on her victory.
“I wondered if I had enough to beat the best in the world,” said the 36-year-old, who had been forced to miss the Boston Marathon in April through injury.
“My coaches told me it was possible and they made me believe today it could happen.
“This is going to feel good for a very long time.”
The 2008 Olympic 10,000m silver medallist and 2010 runner-up in New York had previously said she may retire with victory but after what she described as “a pretty flawless race for me” she explained she would need to sit down with her coach to discuss what is next.
Flanagan’s race included a decisive moment as the lead runners reached Fifth Avenue. After a 15-strong group passed half way in 76:18, Keitany –who had stumbled at a water station at around 20km – started to string out the front pack but it soon reformed. At around 20 miles it was Mamitu Daska’s turn to push but Keitany and Flanagan went with her.
Flanagan then created a gap and broke away as she reached Central Park. By 24 miles the American had 14 seconds on Keitany, with Daska another four seconds back. One mile later that lead had grown to 28 seconds and it was up to over a minute as she reached the finishing line after a 70:35 second half of her race.
Behind Keitany, Daska clocked 2:28:08 for third, while Edna Kiplagat was fourth in 2:29:36. Flanagan’s fellow American Allie Kieffer was fifth in 2:29:39, while Italian triathlete Sara Dossena was sixth in the same time.
Despite missing out on a fourth consecutive win on the roads of New York, Keitany was pleased with her performance. “I had a problem yesterday,” said the women-only marathon world record-holder, who added that the problem had not been injury. “Sometimes you can lose. That’s life. So I’m happy with my result today.”
As in the women’s race, all the main contenders in the men’s race remained together at half way as that was mark passed in 66:09, led by defending champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie.
By 23 miles, Kamworor seemed keen to push ahead but he still had Kipsang plus Ethiopian duo Lemi Berhanu and Lelisa Desisa for company. Kamworor then used the strength that has helped him to two World Cross victories and the speed which has secured him double success at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships to storm away over the final couple of miles.
Kipsang’s sprint finish wasn’t enough as he crossed the line with 2:10:56 on the clock as Desisa was third in 2:11:32 and Berhanu fourth in 2:11:52. Switzerland’s Tadesse Abraham was fifth in 2:12:01, while Meb Keflezighi, the popular American who won the 2009 New York City and 2014 Boston marathons, ran 2:15:29 in his final marathon.
“I’m delighted to have won,” said Kamworor. “It’s a fantastic moment and I’m really happy to win a marathon for the first time.”
Earlier on there had been a Swiss double in the elite wheelchair races as Paralympic marathon champion Marcel Hug retained his title in 1:37:17 and Boston and London winner Manuela Schär claimed the women’s win in 1:48:05.
Britain’s John Smith was runner-up in the men’s race in 1:39:36, while five-time winner in New York, Tatyana McFadden, clocked 1:50:57 for second in the women’s event.
Paralympic and world 200m champion Richard Whitehead, who was returning to marathon action for the first time since 2014 and just a few months after claiming two sprint medals at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, clocked 3:20:14.