Boston Marathon: Africans Merga and Kosgei Run To Victory
Today, on Patriots’ Day, April 20, 2009, the annual Boston Marathon took place in Boston, Massachusetts. Kenyan Salina Kosgei placed first in the women's race with the time of 2:32:16, while Ethiopian Deriba Merga came on top in the men's event with the time of 2:08:42, just a minute and 28 seconds shy of the all-time marathon's record.
The event enjoyed live TV and online coverage. Universal Sports was offering a live video feed of the marathon. Live updates were available through Twitter (http://twitter.com/bostonmarathon). Race commentary and scoreboards were available at http://www.bostonmarathon.org/, where one could also track athletes in real time by looking up their last name or bib number. The marathon’s route map could be found here.
This year, Americans were favourite to win in both men’s and women’s races for the first time in many years. Ryan Hall was the top-ranked American male coming into the event, and American Kara Goucher was expected to lead in the women’s event. Both Hall and Goucher came in third place in their respective races. All top 10 male finishers were from Africa, with Hall making the only exception. The four-time winner of Boston Marathon Kenyan Robert Cheruiyot tried to make history and win another title but came in disappointing fifth. In the women's race, with the exception of Kara Goucher of the U.S. in third, Lidiya Grigoryeva of Russia in sixth, and Alina Ivanova of the U.S. in tenth, all top 10 female runner come from Africa.
The Boston Marathon’s starting line was traditionally set in the small town of Hopkinton. The start time was -- 9:35 a.m. for women and 10 a.m. for men. The marathon is a grueling 42.2 kilometer race that takes competitors through seven towns with the finishing line set on Copley Square in Boston. The course is known for its hilly landscape. The most infamous hill challenge is the marathon’s Heartbreak Hill near Boston College, which is a 600 meter ascent that runners have to overcome toward the end of the race. The Boston Marathon is the only American marathon event that pre-qualifies runners, which many view as a significant achievement in and of itself.
Boston Marathon happens annually in Boston, Massachusetts, on the third Monday of April. It is a tradition that dates back more than a hundred years and is one of the most famous running races. The Boston Athletic Association manages the event with nearly 20,000 amateurs and professional competing every year.
Ethiopia's Deriba Merga overcame the disappointment of his Olympic fade to win the Boston Marathon on Monday, and Kenya's Salina Kosgei won the closest women's race in the 113-year history of the event while Americans took third in both races for the best U.S. finish since 1985.
Merga, who was passed in the last quarter-mile and finished fourth in Beijing, pulled away before Heartbreak Hill and won in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 42 seconds — almost a full minute ahead of Kenya's Daniel Rono and American Ryan Hall.
Kosgei won a sprint with defending champion Dire Tune, trading the lead several times in the final blocks of Boylston Street before hitting the tape less than a stride ahead of the Ethiopian in 2:32:16. American Kara Goucher led the three as they crossed the MassPike into Kenmore Square with one mile to go, but she was outkicked down the stretch and finished 9 seconds back.
Today’s challenge comes from two newcomers to the Boston race. Ryan Hall is the top-ranked American male, at odds of 9-2, according to Dublin-based Paddy Power PLC, Ireland’s largest bookmaker. Kara Goucher, at 9-4, leads not just among American women but all women in the race.
Hall, 26, a Stanford University graduate from Big Bear Lake, California, posted a record time of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 2 seconds last year in the U.S. Olympic Team trials marathon. He went on to finish 10th in Beijing.
Goucher, 30, is a University of Colorado graduate who finished third among the women last year in her hometown race, the New York Marathon. A time of 2:25:53 made her the first American woman to place in the top three since 1994.
Current course records, as of 2008, are 2:07:14 and 2:20:43 for men's open and women's open, respectively.
The storied Boston Marathon, first run by 18 men in 1897, is the only marathon requiring entrants to reach a qualifying standard for the 42.195-kilometre distance.
Boston goes marathon crazy for the week preceding the race on Patriots Day, and some 500,000 spectators are expected to line the route.
The race is the biggest event on Patriots’ Day, a Massachusetts holiday on the third Monday in April that commemorates the 1775 showdown in Concord and Lexington between colonists and British troops.