Carolyn Mather has missed few major marathons in the past 4 decades in the U.S. She knows most of the elite U.S. women and has written for the iconic Running Journal (now on hiatus as publisher Bruce Morrison has taken ill), since the last 1970s. We asked Carolyn to opine on the women’s race today and she put together this focused piece on the top elite and top elite American women.
WEATHER BETTER AS DEGAFA DOMINATES, by Carolyn Mather
All week there were dismal predictions for the weather for the 123rd Boston Marathon and it looked like it could be more dismal than last years epic bad weather. But being New England, race morning dawned with the rain pushing through and by the start of the women’s race conditions were rapidly improving with temperatures in the low 60’s but with high humidity.
The women took off at 9:32am and Sara Hall took to the lead . The first three miles were 5:47,5:5:40 and 5:34. Hall and defending champion Des Linden were leading a large pack through the first elite fluid stop. Hall was smiling on this her 35th birthday. But the fluid stop past 5K,caused a breakaway by 28 year old Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa with Sharon Cherop and Mare Dibaba also separating from the pack. Degafa ran a 5:24 fourth mile and a 5:17 fifth mile and began a charge at the front (it grew over time to over three minutes by 30K). Degefa ran the second 5K’s in 16:23. (32:46 from 5K to 15K), where she led by 84 seconds after leading by 14 seconds by at 10K.
Degefa was running her first Boston Marathon twelve weeks after winning the Dubai Marathon in 2:17:41. She never has run a marathon outside of Dubai and is the 4th fastest woman marathoner of all time. She had not seen the course but managed to get through the hills. Although she finished first the chase pack of twelve at the halfway( where Degefa was on a 2:21 pace) point began the pursuit of Degafa. By mile 22 Edna Kipligat began the chase in earnest. Degefa had begun looking at her watch and looking back after she cleared the hills which obviously took a bit of energy out of her. Kipligat has many incredible finishes (7 top fours in her last eight finishes) but today she did not have enough real estate remaining although she closed within a minute (2:23:28 to 2:24:13). At age 39 Kipligat made an amazing effort to close the gap.
Jordan Hasay who had spent most of 2018 injured with repeated heel injuries(calcaneal stress fractures) worked her way onto the podium with a second third place finish in 2:25:20. She had even gone to a dive shop to purchase a wet suit top in case the weather was as horrible as originally predicted. Des Linden held tough and even helped Hasay then muscled her way to a fifth place finish in 2:27. This was Hasay’s third place finish in three marathons. She and Des worked together for quite a few miles and Hasay settled in with Linden at her side even though everyone was cheering for Linden. Hasay is an intense individual who has been a champion since age twelve and was valedictorian of her high school class before going to the University of Oregon. Having a top three finish after a year of trials definitely points to her resilience and a great career in her marathoning future.
The Boston Marathon concentrates on racers and it is all about competition and not time. The technically challenging course with constant changes in elevation brings the best in the competitors. Although Degefa had never raced a challenging, hilly course, she reigned surpreme on this fine day in Boston, where the weather surpassed all expectations and where three American women punched the IAAF Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games entry standard by virtue of their top 10 finish. Lindsey Flanagan was 9th in the race (2:30:07).
Congratulations to all the women conquering the Boston Marathon course. Now go and celebrate!