There was a Kenyan double at the 125th Boston Marathon as Benson Kipruto and Diana Kipyogei won the fourth Abbott World Marathon Majors race to take place in three weeks.
The pair ended up clear winners with 2:09:51 and 2:24:45 respectively in two contrasting races.
The men’s race took on a bizarre shape for the entire first half with the unheralded American CJ Albertson blasting off the start line in Hopkinton to build what became a lead of over two minutes.
The 50km world champion set a new PB for the half marathon, which was a clear signal that the second half of the contest would see him fare less well as fatigue crept in on the course’s famed Newton Hills.
Albertson stuck it out at the front until slowly but surely, a pack of chasers containing Kipruto, 2017 champion Geoffrey Kirui and 2015 champion and reigning world champion Lelisa Desisa, caught the 27-year-old around the 21-mile mark.
It was 35km where Kipruto decided to fire his shot for glory, and it proved decisive. The 30-year-old put his foot down to cover the next 5km segment in just outside 14 minutes and he was more than 40 seconds ahead of second placed Lemi Berhanu by the time he was taking in the cheers of a packed Boylston Street.
“It was a nice feeling today after finishing tenth a couple of years ago, I’m happy today to be a champion,” said Kipruto.
“When I pushed forward, I knew some guys were coming to close the gap, so I was trying to maintain that high pace to see who could sustain it.”
Jemal Yimer came third after being outkicked by Berhanu in the final stretch.
For Kipyogei, a slow pace to the first half of the women’s race played into her hands as she waited patiently to break the large leading group up. When she hit the gas after the 25km mark, by the time she reached her next split, she was 10 seconds clear.
Netsanet Gudeta of Ethiopia bridges across to the Kenyan and the pair went stride for stride until the final couple of miles, when Kipyogei kicked again and was able to see off the Ethiopian’s challenge.
The main threat eventually came from the classy veteran Edna Kiplagat. The 2017 champion here swiftly overtook the fast-retreating Gudeta and was eating into the leader’s advantage, but would run out of road before she could contest the victory.
“I am very happy,” said Kipyogei. “For me, I saw the group was slowing down and I said to myself ‘let me go. The body was good and then I said ‘let me try and push.’ The course was not easy, it was steep in the hills, but I did it.”
For Kiplagat, who continues to hold back the years with her second second place in as many appearances in Boston, there was only satisfaction: “I did enough strength and everything went as planned, so I’m grateful for the second place finish today,” she said.
“I’ve been very disciplined, I’ve been focused and all the time when I’m preparing for a race or marathon or championship race, I have a code of what to do. We plan, we focus and I go for it so, on and on, I’ve been so focused and maintaining my discipline all the time.”