New York City Marathon 2002 - Men's Race
Boston's 1-2 Finish Repeats in New York
Last year's top three finishers returned to New York to try again...Jifar Tesfaye, after setting a course record in 2001 was the favorite coming into the race, with Japhet Kosgei (2nd in 2001) and Rodgers Rop (3rd in 2001 and 1st in Boston 2002) standing in as serious competition. Rounding out the field were only a few others capable of pulling off a victory: Christopher Cheboiboch (2nd in Boston 2002), Stefano Baldini (2:07:29 in London 2002) and Mohamed Ouaddi being the remaining runners with the experience to win a major marathon, but probably only if the favorites faltered. At the end of the race, the top five were chosen from this group with the surprise addition of Laban Kipkemboi in his debut marathon. But the news also was that last year's first two runners did falter, leaving the race wide open.
The race begins and a huge pack emerges, larger than any in recent memory. The pace is strong but a bit off of last year's pace. Jacob Losian, Godfrey Kiprotich and Joseph Kariuki - in their roles as pacemakers - lead the pack through the first miles in 4:55, 5:03, 4:50, 4:50, 4:49, 4:52... The pack is very large and virtually all of the elite runners remain, with the notable exception that Scott Larson, the top American in 2001 has dropped out due to a foot injury.
The pace remains relatively slow as the pack remains large moving through the 10K mark in 30:17. The next few miles, through the half marathon in 1:03:13 keeps the pack nearly intact and there's little to indicate which runners are feeling strong and which are felling less confident. Rodgers Rop makes a small break to see if others will follow, but none move and he drops back - this might be the first indication that Rop is the man who will control this race.
Just past the 15 mile mark, Tesfaye Jifar, last year's winner and this year's favorite stops to walk and appears to be trying to vomit. He rejoins the pack, but this obviously does not bode well for the rest of Tesfaye's race. A few minutes later, Jon Brown of Great Britain who had been helping to lead the pack is seen walking and stretching - he's out of the race at this point.
Off of the 59th Street Bridge and onto First Avenue, the pack is still large but down a bit in size when Rodgers Rop makes a move to break away from the pack. He quickly moves out 20 meters ahead of the pack as Meb Keflezighi (the US 10K record holder) moves up to join him. Three others join Rop and Keflezighi and a lead pack of 5 emerges: Rop, Keflezighi, Laban Kipkemboi, Christopher Cheboiboch and Gert Thys.
Through mile 18 in 1:27:38 with Meb Keflezighi in his debut marathon leading the pack, which now has a lead of nearly 15 seconds on the main pack which still hangs together.
By mile 19, the lead pack is moving further away as the followers are now strung out. Stefano Baldini follows 20 seconds behind the leaders as the other runners are further and further back.
At mile 20, the lead pack has dropped to four runners as Keflezighi begins to fade. Mohamed Ouaadi begins to bridge the gap to the leaders and is only nine seconds behind, but they will be difficult to catch, even as the pace is slowing a bit.
Gert Thys falls back and the pack is down to three: Rop, Cheboiboch and Kipkemboi. Ouaddi moves into fourth place, but is 12 seconds behind. Any of the top three look strong enough to win this race, and they are running well together and continue to move away from the rest of the field.
Moving through mile 23/24, Rop and Kipemboi have opened up a lead of five seconds over Cheboiboch. But soon Kipkemboi begins to tire and drop back as Cheboiboch moves back up into second place, trailing Rop by two seconds. Rop grabs his side, perhaps in pain, but does not slow the pace. With Rop followed by Cheboiboch, we remember the exciting finish at Boston earlier this year in which Rop beat a gaining Cheboiboch by one second at the finish. We can only imagine that these runners are remembering that finish as well.
With one mile to go, Rop puts on the afterburners and cruises to a New York City Marathon victory in a time of 2:08:07, the third fastest time in history for this race. He is the fourth man to win both Boston and New York in the same year. Cheboiboch arrives in second place in 2:08:17, followed by Laban Kipkemboi in his debut marathon in 2:08:39. Mohamed Ouaadi arrivs fourth in 2:08:53, Stefano Baldini is fifth in 2:09:12. Mark Carroll, the Irish 10K record holder completes his debut marathon in 2:10:54. Gert Thys (2:11:48), Matt O'Dowd (2:12:20), Meb Keflezighi (2:12:35) and Stephen Ndungu (2:13:28) round out the top ten in the race.
Blow by blow coverage of the NYC Marathon 2002 races:
NYC Marathon 2002: Men's Race
NYC Marathon 2002: Women's Race
NYC Marathon 2002: American Race
NYC Marathon 2002: The Wheelchair Race
NYC Marathon 2002: Photo Gallery
Also, Complete Results of the NYC Marathon