The 126th running of the Boston Marathon is also the 50th time that women have run in the Boston Marathon. It was quite fitting that the battle for the women’s wreath was one of the finest marathon battles in either women’s or men’s history!
David Hunter just sent us this feature! He captured the excitement and the battle to the finish for the winner’s wreath.
We think that you will enjoy it!
Peres Jepchirchir added a hard fought Boston Marathon win to her list of accomplishments! by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
Boston Women: Jepchirchir’s Win Is One For The Ages
The 126th B.A.A Marathon Patriots’ Day / 18 April 2022
In a year when the Boston Marathon celebrated the 50th anniversary of the race’s long-awaited addition of an official women’s division, Olympic gold medalist Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir and unheralded Ethiopian Ababel Yeshenah, locked horns in the final 2 kilometers of this historic racecourse. After running together for 40 kilos, racing side-by-side, chatting, and even sharing water, these two talented and determined young women engaged in what will long be remembered as the most electrifying women’s battle for the laurel wreath in the history of the Boston Marathon.
Patriots’ Day started with a blessing for the 30,000 athletes: dream-like weather conditions: blue skies, gentle breezes, and temperatures chilly for the spectators yet cool for the athletes whose Marathon effort would make them comfortable..
The field of elite women was robust as it was clear that several of the top athletes could end up on the top step of the podium: (i) Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic marathon gold medalist, 2:17:16 marathoner, and #5 on the all-time world list. She had won the NYC Marathon last November; (ii) Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei who rang up the world’s fastest clocking last year [2:17:43]; won the London Marathon; and is the former world record holder in the half marathon; (iii) 42-year-old Edna Kiplagat, 2017 Boston victor; she closed well at the 2021 Boston race to claw up to 2nd; could the two-time world marathon champion dig down for one more shining moment in Boston?; and (iv) American Molly Seidel, the reigning Olympic marathon bronze medalist and former Boston resident whose training preparation had been hampered.
As the race got underway, the elite women, as if each knew the later stages of the race would be brutal, began with caution as they descended down Route 135 on their way to Ashland. Manageable mile splits hovering in the 5:30 – 5:40 range caused the lead pack to bunch behind the pack leaders Seidel, Jepchirchir, and Jekosgei. Jepchirchir revealed in the post-race conference that shortly after the 10K was passed in 34:20 that it was then when she struck up a sidebar with Jepkosgei and the duo agreed to pick up the pace. After miles 7 and 8 were covered in a pace-injected 10:21, 16 athletes in the opening pack of 20 (which included Seidel) were quickly and surgically trimmed to 4: the scheming Kenyan duo and two Ethiopians: 23-year-old Degitu Azimeraw and 30-year-old Abadel Yeshaneh. Just like that, the leading foursome had easily distanced themselves from the casualties of that planned racing downshift. While some would regroup and finish (e.g. Nell Rojas who finished 10th and was the first American woman) for others the move ultimately resulted in racing disaster (e.g. Seidel who stepped off the course between 25K and 30K).
The tempo for that remaining quartet hovered in the low 5:00 pace range as the foursome streaked past Wellesley. Before reaching the halfway marker, Azimeraw let go and the new trio sped on and through the half marathon in 1:09:41. The threesome was on pace to take down the women’s course record [2:19.59 / Buzunesh Deba in 2014]. The 3 leaders spread out widely on the roadway, and each looked amazingly comfortable as they headed toward the 25K marker which precedes a precipitous downhill, notching a fast mile which they rang up in 5:04. The quartet remained unshakened as they climbed out of Lower Newton Falls on their way to the Newton Hills. Rounding the Newton Fire Station. the three athletes never wavered as they ascended the Newton Hills. As they clicked off the miles passing Boston College and speeding down to Columbus Circle none of the three remaining athletes showed signs of cracking.
Before reaching the 24 mile mark approaching Fenway Park, Jepkosie fell back and was quickly gone, leaving the Olympic Champion and the relative upstart to wrestle for the wreath. The light-hearted banter the twosome enjoyed in those early miles was now over as both knew that a battle for the victory was now at hand. Surprisingly, Yeshaneh made the first bolt before reaching Kenmore Square.
The Olympic champion immediately countered by covering the first move and crowding herself directly behind the upstart so she could not be easily seen.. The inability to see the Olympic champion annoyed the Ethiopian. After a quick bottle snatch and some water, Jepchirchir then came out from hiding and made her move to the front as the duo entered Kenmore Square.
Would Jepchirshir’s novel game of hide-and-seek be the dagger that determines the ultimate winner? No. As the duo was speeding toward Mass Avenue and the underpass Yeshaneh made her own move – a bolt that carried her down the underpass and back up onto Commonwealth Avenue. The sizeable lead she had carved would soon be spoiled as the Ethiopian nearly ran past Hereford causing her to cover unnecessary ground and allowing Jepchirchir to close much of the her deficit.. As the duo finished scaling Hereford, the Kenyan ran a tight left turn onto Boylston that allowed her to regain the lead. But the Ethiopian was not yet done. Several valiant efforts by Yeshaneh to pass her opponent on the final straightaway were rebuffed by the Kenyan as the capacity crowd roared and the finish line loomed closer. Pain was etched on the faces of both of these two noble warriors. Jepchipchir hit the banner first in 2:22:01, with Yeshaneh crossing four seconds later. The dramatic battle for the wreath was best summed up by Walking Marathon Encyclopedia Tony Reavis, who exclaimed, “It wasn’t the closest finish in Boston Marathon history. But it was the best finish in Boston Marathon history.”
In days leading up to Patriots’ Day, BAA Communications and Media Manager Chris Lotsbom took a moment to reveal how he will know the 126th edition of the Boston Marathon has been successful. “When you walk around downtown on Tuesday – the day after the marathon – and you see everybody in their medals, their participant shirts, and their marathon jackets, everybody is smiling from ear to ear and kind of celebrating from that euphoric joy that comes from the event and the experience, to me that is the sign of a successful event, the positive nature and positive feeling you can just sense in the city just walking around. To me, that positive comradery is the sign of a job well done.” Without question, Lotsbom and his colleagues will get that affirmation tomorrow. / Dave Hunter /
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