Reigning Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir capped a half-century celebration of women in the Boston Marathon with a finish to top them all.
The 28-year-old Kenyan won a see-saw last mile sprint on Monday as the world’s most prestigious 26.2-mile race returned to its traditional Patriots Day spot in the calendar for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
On the 50th anniversary of the first official women’s race, Jepchirchir swapped places with Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh eight times in the final mile before taking the lead on Boylston Street for good and finishing in 2 hours, 21 minutes, 1 second.
“I felt she was strong. I pushed her,” said Jepchirchir, who won $150,000 and the traditional golden olive wreath. “I fell behind. But I didn’t lose. hope.
Evans Chebet completed the sweep of Kenya, escaping in the men’s race with around four miles to go to win in 2:06:51. Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay was second, 30 seconds away, and defending champion Benson Kipruto was third.
American Daniel Romanchuk won his second career men’s wheelchair title in 1:26:58. Switzerland’s Manuela Schar won her second consecutive crown in Boston and her fourth overall, finishing in 1:41:08.
Sharing a weekend with the Red Sox home opener – the city’s other sporting rite of spring – more than 28,000 runners returned to the streets from Hopkinton to Copley Square six months after a smaller, socially distant that was the only fall race in its 126-year history.
Fans waved Ukrainian flags in support of the few dozen runners whose 26.2-mile run from Hopkinton to Copley Square was the easiest part of their journey. Athletes from Russia and Belarus were disinvited in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainians who were unable to travel to Boston were offered a postponement or refund.
“Anything they want to do, they can do,” Boston Athletic Association president Tom Grilk said. “Run this year, run next year. Want a puppy? Whatever. There is no group we want to serve more.
Jepchirchir and Yeshaneh spent most of the morning running side by side – or even closer: in the first half, the Ethiopian’s eyes wandered away from the course and she drifted towards Jepchirchir.
She held out her hand apologetically, and the two hugged as they continued.
“She’s my best friend,” Jepchirchir said.
Beaten, Yeshaneh finished at four seconds. Kenya’s Mary Ngugi finished third for the second time in six months, following her podium in October after the 125th race was delayed, canceled and delayed again.
This year’s race marked the 50th anniversary of Nina Kuscsik’s victory as the first official women’s winner. (But not the first woman to finish the race: That honor belongs to Bobbi Gibb, who first raced in 1966 among unofficial runners known as bandits.)
Valerie Rogosheske, who finished sixth in 1972, said she planned to hide in the bushes and run like a bandit that year before the women were given the green light weeks before the race.
She was among five of the original eight women to return this year for the festivities, running alongside her daughters and serving as an honorary starter for the women’s elite field.
“There was just this feeling of, ‘Boy, let’s do this. No one can give up. There are eyes on us,” she said at the start line on Monday. “A lot of people didn’t think we should run a marathon. That’s why we really felt the pressure, but also the opportunity to finish this marathon. ”