BOSTON - Kara Goucher was third in the women's race and Ryan Hall third among the men Monday in the 113th running of the Boston Marathon, marking the first time in 24 years that Americans appeared on both podiums at this historic race.
Olympic fourth-place finisher Deriba Merga of Ethiopia won the men's crown in 2:08:42, followed by Daniel Rono of Kenya in 2:09:32 and Hall in 2:09:40. Salina Kosgei of Kenya won the women's race in a dramatic sprint finish, hitting the line in 2:32:16, one step and one second ahead of defending champion Dire Tune of Ethiopia in 2:32:17 and Goucher third in 2:32:25. Kosgei and Tune bumped elbows several times in the final meters, and Tune - who won hereby only 2 seconds in 2008 - collapsed just two steps after the finish.
Goucher was the first American woman to place in the top three since Kim Jones was second in 1993, while Hall matched 2004 Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi's third place from 2006.
In 1985, a total of five Americans finished in the men's and women's top three in much less international and significantly slower races. Gary Tuttle (2:19:11) and Mark Helgeston (2:21:15) went 2-3 in the men's race and American women swept the top 10 places, led by Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach (2:34:06), Lynne Huntington (2:42:15) and Karen Dunn (2:42:27). American men occupied eight of the top 10 spots in that year.
Tactics rule women's race
The women's race began resembling nothing so much as a training run, with the entire elite pack coming through 1 mile in 6:25 and two in 12:28. Elva Dryer, Colleen De Reuck and Kara Goucher ran at or near the lead for much of the race as the pack came through 10 km in 37:05, 10 miles in 59:47 and the half marathon on 1:18:12.
Goucher remained with the leaders as De Reuck and Dyer dropped off the pace, but between miles 16 and 17, De Reuck came back to take the lead, shadowed by Goucher. After passing 18 miles in 1:47:05, Goucher took the lead five minutes later. Over the next six miles, the pace quickened as the pack shrank from 10 to five at 23 miles, which Goucher led in 2:15:29 after a 5:20 mile. The American threw down a 5:08 24th mile to make it a three-woman race between herself, Tune and Kosgei.
The final mile provided dramatic moments with nearly every stride. The two-time defending Millrose Games champion in the mile, Goucher ran at the head of the three-woman pack as they gathered themselves for a final sprint down Boylston Street. Just before the turn onto Boylston, Goucher appeared to begin laboring, drawing a groan of concern from the press room as she moved back to third.
With just over 800 meters to go, Goucher tossed off her gloves in her attempt to catch Tune and Kosgei. Although she expected to have kick left in her legs, Goucher could not match the strides of her competitors. At the finish, she was not consoled by her top-three placing.
"I'm proud of what I did," said Goucher, who held back tears as she described the amazing support received from family, friends, her coach and Nike. "I wanted it so much for them. I'm proud of how I did, and I raced the best I could. I just wanted to be the one who won for everybody."
A 45-year-old, four-time Olympian, the ageless De Reuck also finished in the top 10, finishing eighth in 2:35:37 as the top masters woman.
Quick start to men's race
The men's race developed in a way that sharply contrasted with their distaff counterparts. Unafraid of a fast pace, a looming headwind, a field that included a four-time champion and the potentially punishing downhills in the early miles, Olympic Trials champion Ryan Hall took the lead from the first step. The 6-0 Californian posted sub-4:50 miles early on and came through 5 km in 14:34, well under course-record pace. The 10km mark passed in 29:28, or 4:46 pace, as 13 men occupied the lead pack.
It wasn't until mile 8 that anyone started a concerted effort to take the lead from Hall, when Gashaw Asfaw of Ethiopia and four-time champion Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya began to push. At 15 km, the pack was still on 2:05 marathon pace (44:45), but by the half they had slowed to 1:03:39.
Merga began his race in earnest in the last half. He worked with countryman Solomon Molla through 16 miles, passed in 1:18:11, after which point Hall had dropped as far back as ninth.
Merga, Molla and Rono continued to roll at the front, but Hall began to claw his way back. By 20 miles passed by Merga in 1:37:57, Hall had moved to third, ahead of Molla and roughly 30 seconds behind Merga. The Merga-Rono-Hall running order remained intact through the finish and Merga enjoyed a one-man show in the final miles.
Hall was pleased with his third-place finish . "I definitely felt like a rookie out there," he said. "I was learning as I went. I've been on the course before and got to jog the last 20 miles, but jogging it and racing it are two different things. I was in a lot of pain the last 10k. I've got some work to do but I'm young and I'll be back. I learned a lot."
"My plan was to run my own race from the get-go. I like to run fast, and I was like, I'm going to use these downhills and I'm going to find my right effort level. It was a tough day out there for everyone. The wind was in your face the whole way."
Fellow Olympian Brian Sell was the second American at Boston, placing 14th in 2:16:31.
For complete results, race reports and quotes from the 113th Boston Marathon, visit BAA.org.
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