NAIROBI, Kenya- World champion Geoffrey Kirui lost his Boston Marathon title to Yuki Kawauchi as American Desiree Linden stormed to the women’s crown in an unbelievable turn of events for Kenyans on Monday evening.
In a race where terrible weather- with rain and harsh winds forcing the elite runners to race in jackets-made as many headlines, Kirui, 25, who is self coached and trains largely alone almost added another major title to his expanding honours only to be denied in the most cruel of fashions.
After Kawauchi, went out in suicidal pace after the men’s race started, Kirui took charge of proceedings and broke the field open at the 30K mark before hammering the wet tarmac but the Japanese runner staged the most astonishing of comebacks to snatch the victory.
Such was Kirui’s furious finishing as he fought against strong headwinds, running with purposeful strides and decked in a white rain jacket and cap, that he caught up with the leading women pack including American star, Molly Hurdle and defending champion, Edna Kiplagat.
Then the unthinkable happened. Kawauchi caught up as they came for the last two kilometres, passed the titleholder before becoming the first Japanase athlete to win Boston since Tokihisho Seko (1981) in 2:15:58.
The native of Kuki, Saitama, Japan opened with a 4:37 mile and closed the with a 5:08 split.
Stunned Kirui followed the winner home, almost jogging to the tape after seeing an almost unassailable gap of 90s with only 5K to go over the chasing pack erased as he staggered home for the silver in 2:18:21.
Kenyan born Stanley Biwott of the United States closed the podium in 2:18:32, as he came close to overhauling his former countryman for second as six Americans filled the top 10.
“I never gave up. I could see him in front of me and I believed I could pass him and for me, this are the best conditions,” the tearful Japanese winner said through a translator moments after his biggest career win.
Linden on the other hand overhauled long-time race leader, Mamitu Daska from Ethiopia and World Marathon Majors debutant, Gladys Chesir of Kenya to become the first American winner at Boston for 33 years-since 1985.
She ran into the waiting arms of her husband, Ryan Linden, at the finish line to also complete her signature career victory on the road, with little regard to the finish time as she stopped the clock in 2:39:54.
“I don’t have the right words. I’m thrilled, its supposed to be hard. It’s good to get it done. We have had great role models and big future ahead. Today, there was a lot of camaraderie on the course and anyone could have broken through and I’m lucky to have it done,” the shivering Linden said post-race.
She hailed Boston organisers, John Hanckock for keeping the faith in her as she enjoyed her marathon breakthrough on her sixth attempt.
Behind her, compatriot Sarah Sellers (2:44:05) and Canadian Krista Duchene (2:44:20) rounded the podium as the weather wrecked havoc on the Kenyans with 2017 champion, Kiplagat, eventually finishing eighth in 2:47:14.
- Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 2hrs 15mins 58secs
- Geoffrey Kirui (KEN) 2:18:23
- Shadrack Biwott (USA) 2:18:35
- Tyler Pennel (USA) 2:18:57
- Andrew Bumbalough (USA) 2:19:52
- Scott Smith (USA) 2:21:47
- Abdi Nageeye (NED) 2:23:16
- Elkanah Kibet (USA) 2:23:37
- Reid Coolsaet (CAN) 2:23:37
- Daniel Vassallo (USA) 2:27:50
- Desiree Linden (USA) 2:39:54
- Sarah Sellers (USA) 2:44:04
- Krista Duchene (CAN) 2:44:20
- Rachel Hyland (USA) 2:44:29
- Jessica Chichester (USA) 2:45:23
- Nicole Dimercurio (USA) 2:45:52
- Shalane Flanagan (USA) 2:46:31
- Kimi Reed (USA) 2:46:47
- Edna Kiplagat (KEN) 2:47:14
- Hiroko Yoshitomi (JPN) 2:48:29