This morning dawned cold and windy for the 44th TCS New York City Marathon. 50,000 runners aged 18-89 and representing 130 countries were ready to battle temperatures in the 30s with the wind chill. The marathon website issued warnings that because of the windy conditions the amount of tenting, directional signs and other structures at the start, finish and along the course were being reduced. Looking at the course, runners would be battling head winds the first half of the race through Brooklyn. Once they were out of the Bronx the wind would turn to their advantage taking them into Central Park. It appeared that the conditions had taken away any possibilities of either course or world records.
The men’s race was won by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang, the former world record holder, in 2:10:59. He and Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa broke away from the pack at mile 25. Coming into New York’s Central Park it looked like Kipsang was dropping Desisa, but the Ethiopian refused to go away and nearly passed the Kenyan within sight of the tape. Kipsang shifted gears and left him behind in the last two-tenths of a mile to win. Ethiopian Gebre Gebremariam was third in 2:12:13. American Meb Keflezighi took fourth in 2:13:17. Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda was fifth. Two-time winner Geoffrey Mutai from Kenya was sixth. American Ryan Vail was ninth in 2:15:07, followed by 10th-place Nick Arciniaga in 2:15:38.
Despite windy conditions, Kipsang had planned to run a very fast time. However, the pace over the first half of the race was one of the slowest since 1984. By the 3-mile mark the pack was already 30 seconds off last year’s pace. There was still a big lead pack at 20 miles, still moving at only 5-minute pace. Kipsang and Desisa broke away at 25 miles, opening at gap of 41 seconds over Gebremariam. At that point Keflezighi was running fifth, nearly 25 seconds behind Mutai, who he passed before the 26th mile.
Two-time London Marathon champion Mary Keitany of Kenya won the women’s race in a time of 2:25:07. She beat Kenyan Jemima Sumgong by 3 seconds. Portugal’s Sara Moreira was third in 2:25:59. The top American woman was Desiree Linden, taking fifth place in a time of 2:28:10. New York crowd favorite Ethiopian Buzensh Deba, who now lives in the Bronx, was unable to hang with the leaders, finishing ninth after running with the leaders for most of the first 20 miles.
Keitany and Sumgong picked up the pace substantially in the last 6 miles. Through 20 miles the group was on exactly 2:27 pace when the two broke away from the lead pack. By mile 24 they had a gap of 26 seconds over Moreira. Keitany and Sumgong were neck and neck coming into New York’s Central Park. Sumgong appeared to be dropping Keitany in the last mile, but Keitany’s blazing half-marathon speed showed with a finishing kick that dropped Sumgong in the last two-tenths of a mile and gave her the win.
Annie Bersagel was the second American, finishing in 2:33:01. Forty-one-old Deena Kastor was the third American in 2:33:16, missing the U.S. masters record of 2:28:40. Kastor had hoped to run 2:25. Kara Goucher was the fourth American, 8:52 behind the winner.
In the men’s wheelchair division, Australian Kurt Fearnley took the lead at the finish from a tightly bunched pack of six racers coming into New York’s Central Park to take his 5th win in New York in 1:30:55. He nosed out Ernst Van Dyk at the finish. Tomasz Hamerlak was 3rd. American Tatyana McFadden was the women’s wheelchair winner, finishing in 1:42:16, more than a minute ahead of second-place Manuela Schar.
Commentary by Beth A. Balen