This is Justin Lagat’s piece on the Boston marathon, which was fascinating to watch. Justin provides his view from Kenya for the global events with Kenyan athletes and interest in his country.
Some argue that it is better to make a move early in a marathon race to avoid a tough battle for victory in the last stages, while others think it is better to be patient and wait until the last stages of the race. After watching the thrilling and grueling men’s finish at this year’s Boston Marathon, perhaps many may be tempted to try and break away early in their marathon races next time they run!
A huge pack had run together till past the 35km mark with no one willing to make a decisive move. With about three kilometers to go, Kenneth Kipkemoi and Lawrence Cherono started moving to one side of the road and it was a though Desisa Lelisa knew exactly who to watch out for as he trailed the two. The big pack soon began to disintegrate as the three broke away. Geoffrey Kirui who was one of the pre-race favorites having won it in 2017 and finishing second in 2018 was the last one to drop back leaving the three at the front.
The sprint to the finish seemed to have started too early, or rather, the athlete who was expected to be shaken off held on for too long.
Having hung behind the Kenyans, Desisa must have misjudged that the two had exhausted their strength and took to the front in the last 500m of the race hoping to go for the win, but Cherono was not yet done as he reacted and went after him.
The last 100m of the race must have brought everyone watching this race on their feet as the two athletes who were then running shoulder to shoulder sprinted for the tape. It was no longer a question of who would sprint faster, but rather, who was going to hold on the sprint to the finish.
In the end, Cherono, whose training camp in Kaptagat is a few kilometers from Eliud Kipchoge’s edged Desisa to win the race in 2:07:57, two microseconds ahead of Desisa.
The 2019 Boston Marathon was won in two different versions for the men and women races.
Worknesh Degefa decided to make an early break in the women’s race and maintained a safe margin at the front. It left the big pack of chasers in a difficult situation with no one willing to take on the initiative to close the gap and act as a pacemaker for the others. This worked perfectly for her as she eventually emerged as the winner.
While Degefa kept increasing the gap at the front, someone in the chasing group would briefly move to the front as though to increase the pace then relax back into the pack perhaps hoping that someone else would take over the task.
Ednah Kiplagat finally made a decisive move in the last few kilometers of the race leaving a string of runners following her, but it was a little too late. She was able to decrease a gap of about three minutes by Degefa to less than a minute as she came to finish second ahead of Jordan Hassay who excited the home crowd by finishing on the podium.