|The Boston Marathon 2001 - Women
by John Elliott
Three women, two Kenyans and one Ethiopian were expected to lead the women's field along a 26.2 mile trek to Boston on April 16, 2001: Catherine Ndereba of Kenya (2000 champion, 2:21:33 PR), Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia (1997-1999 champion and 2000 3rd place, 2:23:21 PR) and Lornah Kiplagat of Kenya (2:22:36 PR). Ndereba won her first marathon victory at Boston in 2000 (2:26:11) and followed that up later in the year with a 2:21:33 finish in Chicago, the fastest time of 2000 and the fifth fastest of all time. Taking into account her 2000 times and her experience in Boston, clearly Ndereba is the one to beat. Ndereba's teammate Kiplagat was second to Ndereba in Chicago 2000, posting a 2:22:36 - clearly a strong contender.
The first half of the 2001 Boston Marathon consists of all of the favorite women running in a tight pack - unusual for a women's race. Eight women run through the 25K checkpoint together in 1:26:54 (a 5:36 pace): Lyubov Morgunova (Russia, 2:26:33 PR), Ludmilla Petrova (Russia, 2:25:45), Ndereba, Irina Timofeyeva (Russia, 2:27:46), Wei Yanan (China, 2:26:34), Malgorzata Sobanska (Poland, 2:27:30), Roba and Kiplagat. All of these women are running comfortably - and these eight will end up finishing in the top eight positions.
At mile 16, Ndereba decides to move away from the pack and Roba moves with her. By 30K, they have built a lead of 10 seconds on Kiplagat and 20 seconds on the remaining women. But, it's clear that Ndereba is doing the work, comfortably, while Roba is just hanging on. Ndereba looks calm and completely in control.
Through the Newton Hills and "Heartbreak Hill", Ndereba has run away from the rest of the field and has built more than a minute lead over Kiplagat who is running alone in second place. Twenty five seconds behind Kiplagat, Roba has joined Sobanska and Morgunova. Petrova and Timofeyeva are running together 15 seconds behind the others.
As the race moves towards the finish, Ndereba continues to build her lead. She is unstoppable in this race. Keying off each other, Sobanska and Morgunova move into second and third place, with Sobanska especially pushing the pace. Roba runs to hold onto fifth place.
At the finish, Ndereba wins comfortably in 2:23:53 - more than two minutes ahead of her 2000 time and nearly three minutes ahead of second place finisher Sobanska. Sobanska takes second place in 2:26:42, setting a new personal best over the marathon distance. Morgunova takes third place in 2:26:33 while Roba holds onto fifth place by finishing in 2:28:08. The first American woman, Jill Gaitenby finished in 14th place in 2:36:45.
Ndereba's time is the seventh fastest run by women over the Boston course. At the press conference following the race, Ndereba said that her goal is now to go after the World Record in the Marathon. She will need to knock 50 seconds off of her best time, but watching her ease through her second Boston Marathon crown, she seems capable of anything - given the right race on the right day...