|The 2003 Boston Marathon - Overview
by John Elliott
It was a warm and sunny day in Massachusetts for the 107th running of the Boston Marathon: temperatures began the day at 70 degreees and huddled at that level throughout the day. Perhaps more than the warm weather, the wind proved to be a factor in the race, particularly in the second half of the course and the times reflected this. In all, 20,260 runners left Hopkinton, Massachusetts on a 26.2 mile journey to Boston. At the end, different nations dominated each of the different contests: the Kenyans, powerful as always, totally dominating the Men's Marathon; Russians proving dominant in the women's race - and also taking men's and women's masters honors; South Africans took the first two positions in the men's wheelchair division and American women were one-two in the women's wheelchair division.
In the men's race, Kenyans held the first five positions, with the top three finishers running only their second marathons each - showing that the elite Kenyan marathon team is continuing to expand. The main story was 24-year old Robert Chruiyot's strength as he ran away with the race after 21 miles and never looked back, winning in a time of 2:10:11 with a comfortable lead of 23 seconds over second place finisher Benjamin Kosgei Kimutai. This was Cheruiyot's second marathon and second marathon victory - the first coming in his debut marathon in December 2002 at Milan (2:08:59). Second place went to 32-year old Benjamin Kosgei Kimutai, another second-time marathoner (debut at 2002 Amsterdam Marathon - 2:07:26). Martin Lel completed the course in third place in 2:11:11 (debut marathon at Venice 2002 - 2:10:02 for second place). Last year's winner, Rodgers Rop was not able to hold on to the pack and finished a disappointing seventh in 2:16:14.
Also see: Men's Race - Blow by Blow
On the women's side, Margaret Okayo was the focus of attention - having broken the record at Boston last year. Okayo started ahead of the pack and had built a great lead through the first five miles, but was caught and appeared to be working hard to remain in the front pack. But, at mile 20 Svetlana Zakharova moved away from the others and from mile 21, the race was all hers. Svetlana Zakharova posted a winning time of 2:25:20, easily ahead of second place finisher Lyubov Denisova (2:26:51). Joyce Chepchumba finished third in 2:27:20, as Margaret Okayo trailed to finish fourth in 2:27:39
In the wheelchair races, Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa won for the third time in a row in a time of 1:28:32, more than five minutes slower than his time in 2002. Fellow South African, Krige Schabort finished in second place for the second year in a row, posting a 1:30:07.
American women proved dominant in the women's wheelchair division as Christina Ripp finished in first place (1:54:47), just ahead of fellow American Cheri Blauwet (1:54:57). Last year's champion, Edith Hunkeler, was releagated to third place in 1:56;57, eleven minutes slower than last year's time.