Keitany rips the field to seal New York Marathon hat-trick


Mary Keitany of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the Women's Division during the 2016 ...
Mary Keitany of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the Women's Division during the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon November 6, 2016 in New York. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

The imperious Mary Keitany ripped the field to seal a third straight TCS New York Marathon title on Sunday in 2:24:33 to cement her status as one of the most eminent female champions of the classic Big Apple race.

In the corresponding men’s race, Eritrea’s Ghimray Ghebreslassie, the 2013 IAAF World Marathon champion, took off from former Hamburg champion, Lucas Rotich to complete a dominant 2:07:51 -the third fastest winning time in New York Marathon history- after the 20 year-old ran the last 10km unrivalled.

Compatriot and 2012 London Olympics 10000m silver medallist Sally Kipyego who resides in America followed Keitany home to seal the Kenyan 1-2 ahead of home runner and debutant Molly Hurdle who sealed the podium.

On the day however, no one could live with Keitany – the second fastest female marathoner of all time- after she got on her bike and pulled away from compatriot Joyce Chepkirui after the 14th mile.

With only the lead bike and lead car for company after she split from the competition to turn most of the second half of the race into a procession to her glory, Keitany gave Athletics Kenya selectors who omitted her from the Rio 2016 Olympics squad a timely reminder of her immense talent.

As the 34 year-old approached the finish line, fans waved Kenyan flags and as soon as she breast the tape for her latest big victory, a hearty hug to husband and coach Gilbert Koech, son Jared and daughter Samantha who were metres away from the finish gave the watching world a touch of family love.

Her manager, Gianni Demadonna was also among her family as the Italian broke into a huge smile.

It is easy to forget she had prevailed over a world class field in the Abbot World Marathon Majors event following the ease in which Keitany motored to a crushing victory, arriving at the finish well over four minutes clear of Kipyego who resides in Oregon.

Kipyego stopped the timer at 2:28:01 after winning a three-pronged battle for second against Huddle (2:28:13) and Chepkirui (2:29:08) who faded to fourth after paying the price for trying to keep up with the searing pace injected mid race by the winner.

At the water station 53 minutes into the contest, Keitany, Chepkirui and Ethiopia’s Asifelech Mergia broke away with Huddle who was the first American to place in the podium in New York since 2010 when Salina Kosgei beat Shalane Flanagan to the title in fourth a few seconds back.

The women were on 2:28 pace 15K into the race with the mercury rising to 56 degrees Fahrenheit with a 12mph headwind when Keitany and Chepkirui dropped an incredible 5:08 split in the 12th mile to drop Mergia.

Keitany and Chepkirui broke away and were alone in front when the two-time defending champion uncorked another scorching 5:10 split two miles later to clear her unobstructed path to victory.

-Gebrsellasie wows-

Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea crosses the finish line to finish first in the Professional Men's Division during the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park on November 6, 2016 in New York City. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP
Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea crosses the finish line to finish first in the Professional Men’s Division during the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park on November 6, 2016 in New York City. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP

Having stunned the world when he won gold in Moscow 2013 as a teenager, Ghebreslassie re-emerged in devastating fashion to win his first big city marathon.

The biggest news as the race unfolded was the exit of defending champion, Stanley Biwott who dropped out of the contest before reaching the 15K mark.

According to his manager, Dr. Gabrielle Rosa, Biwott missed two weeks of training after returning from the Rio 2016 Olympics where he was also forced out when a water mix-up led to stomach pains.

Another small injury saw his management suspend training for another week and it was soon evident he could not pay a part in the equation.

The Kenyan charge was left to Rotich, the 2008 World Cross junior bronze medallist who led the field through 5K in 15:19 and at the next split, American hope Dathan Ritzenhein was ahead in 24:42 with Biwott a second back.

Ugandan 2010 Double Commonwealth Champion, Moses Kipsiro, another with great track pedigree then went ahead in a large lead pack.

At half way two-time Ethiopian Boston Marathon winner, Lelisa Desisa was in the lead with the front runners minus Biwott still intact with the clock reading 64:24.

The gloves would soon come off when Ghebreslassie who was fourth in Rio 2016 begun to push the pace with Rotich in close attendance.

At 17 miles it was Ghebreslassie, Desisa and Rotich in with a shout for the title with American Abdi Abdirahman, 39 leading the chasing pack in fourth.

The 14th mile for the men was done in a punishing 4:33 with the leading trio now on the Queensborough Bridge but Desisa was soon dropped.

Perhaps aware of the superior track speed possessed by Rotich who has ran brisk 12:55 for 5000m and 26:43 for 10000m, Ghebreslassie dropped the pace again and started putting the seconds on the Kenyan as they approached 20 miles and as he went up the hill and down, there was no catching the Eritrean.

Rotich came home over a minute behind the winner in 2:08:53 as Abdirahman (2:11:23) gave Americans who go for elections on Tuesday another medal in third.

LEADING RESULTS

Men

1          2          Ghirmay Ghebreslassie 2:07:51

2          5          Lucas Rotich 2:08:53

3          16        Abdi Abdirahman 2:11:23

4          11        Hiroyuki Yamamoto 2:11:49

5          14        Shadrack Biwott 2:12:01

6          246     Tadesse Yae Dabi 2:13:06

7          6          Moses Kipsiro 2:14:18

8          12        Tyler Pennel  2:15:09

9          20        Ben Payne     2:15:46

10        18        Patrick Smyth            2:16:34

Women     

1          101     Mary Keitany 2:24:26

2          108     Sally Kipyego 2:28:01

3          111     Molly Huddle  2:28:13

4          104     Joyce Chepkirui 2:29:08

5          106     Diane Nukuri  2:33:04

6          102     Aselefech Mergia 2:33:28

7          110     Lanni Marchant 2:33:50

8          115     Neely Gracey            2:34:55

9          109     Sara Hall 2:36:12

10        121     Ayantu Dakebo Hailemaryam 2:37:07

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Story By Mutwiri Mutuota
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