KENYANS CHEBET, LOKEDI WIN WARM AND HUMID TCS NEW YORK CITY MARATHON
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.
NEW YORK (06-Nov) — On an unusually warm and humid fall day, Evans Chebet and Sharon Lokedi of Kenya won the men’s and women’s professional divisions of the 51st TCS New York City Marathon here this morning. Chebet, 34, backed up his win at the Boston Marathon last April and became the first man since Geoffrey Mutai in 2011 to win both the Boston and New York City Marathons in the same year. Lokedi, 28, running in just her first marathon, ran a patient race and won a close, late-race battle against Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter by seven seconds. Lokedi clocked 2:23:23 and became just the eighth athlete in New York City Marathon history to win in a true marathon debut. She is also the first athlete representing Baltimore-based Under Armour to win an Abbott World Marathon Majors event.
DO NASCIMENTO TAKES A FLYER
In a surprising move, Brazil’s Daniel Do Nascimento tried to steal the race after just the first three kilometers. He bolted away from the field, shooting through the first 5 kilometers in 14:31 and 10 km in 28:42. Improbably, he was on pace for a 2:01:03 finish time, faster than Eliud Kipchoge’s pending world record 2:01:09 set just six weeks ago.
Behind him, a strong chase pack was forming, led by Chebet, defending champion Albert Korir of Kenya, Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands, Suguro Osako of Japan, Galen Rupp of the United States, and Shura Kitata of Ethiopia, among others. Chebet wasn’t concerned about Do Nascimento, despite the Brazilian’s 2:04:51 personal best.
“I knew how far the leader was from me,” Chebet said through a translator. “I also knew it was hot and humid, and I was also going at a high pace, and I know I was going to catch him.”
Do Nascimento ran with abandon, clicking off miles in the 4:30 range, and his lead grew. By 15 km, he was 1:40 ahead of the chasers, but his cushion expanded to 2:12 by halfway, where he clocked the fastest half-marathon split in the history of the race: 1:01:22. His lead held at that level through 25 km after he completed the long climb of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge from Queens to Manhattan.
Heading on to First Avenue in Manhattan, where the crowds are the thickest, the Brazilian finally began to slow. He ran only 15:41 for the five kilometers from 25 km to 30 km (which is downhill), compared to 14:37 for the chase group. He even had to take a toilet break at 99th Street. That “pit stop” cost him 18 seconds.
Moments later, those fast early kilometers caught up to Do Nascimento. He briefly stopped on the ramp up the Willis Avenue Bridge, where the course goes from Manhattan to the Bronx, and then with 1:40:34 showing on the race clock, he stopped and crumpled to the pavement. Behind him, Chebet had left the chase group, and seconds later passed the stricken Brazilian who lay motionless on the roadway. Emergency personnel quickly attended to him.
“I saw him lying on the ground. I felt bad for him, but I had to finish the race,” Chebet said.
Chebet would not have clear sailing to the finish, however. Behind him Kitata had closed much of the gap behind him and was only about a city block as the two men climbed up the mile-long hill on Fifth Avenue before the race turned into Central Park. Chebet looked behind him several times, but the exhausted Kitata was not getting closer. In the end Chebet was 12 seconds clear of the Ethiopian who finished second here for the second time. Nageeye got third in 2:10:31; defending champion, Korir finished seventh in 2:13:27.
“The race was hard for me,” said Chebet, wearing the winner’s crown of laurel leaves. “It was hard for me to race, especially because it was hot.”
The top American was Scott Fauble of Portland, Ore., who finished 9th in 2:13:35. The 31-year-old wore a Nike kit for the first time; his agent Josh Cox sealed his sponsorship deal only last night.
“Being able to run well on this big stage is very gratifying,” said Fauble.
Two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp dropped out in his New York City Marathon debut. His last recorded split was 1:16:08 at 25 km.
WOMEN RAN CONSERVATIVELY
The women’s contest was a classic race of attrition. Twenty women remained in contention at 10 km (34:24/2:25:09 pace), 11 at halfway (1:12:17/2:24:33 pace), and eight at 25 km (1:25:46/2:24:45 pace). Those eight –Lokedi; Salpeter; Hellen Obiri, Edna Kiplagat and Viola Cheptoo of Kenya; Gotytom Gebreslase and Senbere Teferi of Ethiopia; and Aliphine Tuliamuk of the United States– all had a chance to get on the podium. Despite her lack of experience, Lokedi felt confident.
“I didn’t expect to win (but) I expected to run well,” said Lokedi, who finished fourth at the United Airlines NYC Half last March in a personal best 1:08:14.
Between 25 and 30 kilometers, Gebreslase, Cheptoo, and Obiri got away and had an 11-second lead over the other five contenders, including Lokedi. It looked like those three would take all of the podium spots, but by the 20-mile mark, their margin was cut in half. By 40 km Lokedi and Salpeter were in the lead and had dropped their last challenger, Gebreslase (the others had fallen well back). Exiting Central Park from the Service Road and turning right onto Central Park South, Lokedi only had a four-second margin on the much more experienced Salpeter. Both women were hurting.
“I wanted to be in the race; I know I was strong,” Lokedi said. “I just wanted to go and put myself in it.”
In the final 800m, which is nearly all uphill, Lokedi finally broke Salpeter. Despite being in obvious pain –she could barely get into a director’s chair at the post-race press conference– Lokedi summoned all of her strength and powered to the finish. She immediately broke into tears and fell into the arms of her agent, Stephen Haas. She said she didn’t know when or if, she would do another marathon.
“To be honest, I’m just going to enjoy this and go back to Arizona and talk to my coach and lay out the plans for the next,” she told reporters. “It was great today, so maybe.”
Gebreslase held on for third (2:23:39), and Kiplagat –at age 42– finished fourth (she won the race 12 years ago). Cheptoo, who was second here last year in her debut, finished fifth (2:25:34), and Obiri –in her debut– finished sixth in 2:25:49. Tuliamuk was seventh and the top American in 2:26:18, a personal best.
“I think I excel when the conditions aren’t perfect,” said Tuliamuk who was not able to do a full marathon preparation because of an ankle injury. She added: “I think today that’s the case.”
FAST TIMES BY WHEELCHAIR RACERS
In the professional wheelchair races, Marcel Hug of Switzerland and Susannah Scaroni of the United States totally dominated. Both athletes led from gun to tape and set course records, earning them $50,000 bonuses on top of their first-place prize money checks. Hug won in 1:25:26, handily defeating Daniel Romanchuk of the United States by more than two minutes. It was his fifth victory here, tying Kurt Fearnley of Australia, whose 2006 course record Hug demolished (previous 1:29:22).
“It was a fantastic race,” said Hug. He added: “I always go as fast as possible and not focus on the time.”
Scaroni pushed her way to a 1:42:43 victory, more than two minutes ahead of Switzerland’s Manuela Schär. Her time was 21 seconds better than Tatyana McFadden’s 2015 record.
“I love this sport,” Scaroni told reporters after the race. “I will always give it my all. That’s always my strategy on the starting line.”