Jeptoo, Mutai Victorious in Windy New York City Marathon
by Chris Lotsbom
(c) Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
NEW YORK (03-Nov) -- For the third time in race history, Kenya swept both
the men's and women's titles here at the 43rd running of the ING New York
City Marathon. Priscah Jeptoo came from far behind to earn the women's title
in 2:25:07, securing the 2012/2013 World Marathon Majors title in the
process, while Geoffrey Mutai successfully defended his men's crown in
JEPTOO COMES FROM BEHIND TO WIN NYC AND WMM TITLES
Executing a flawless --but risky-- come-from-behind race, Jeptoo crossed the
ING New York City Marathon finish line here with a big smile. Not only did
Jeptoo become Kenya's seventh champion in race history; she also earned a
hefty $500,000 bonus as winner of the 2012-2013 World Marathon Majors
series. Her opponent in the two-year points race, Edna Kiplagat, finished a
"This is a great moment for me and a day I will not forget for the rest of
my life," Jeptoo told members of the media following her win.
In order to take both titles, Jeptoo would have to work very hard to catch
early leaders Buzunesh Deba and Tigist Tufa. Deba and Tufa --both natives of
Ethiopia now living in New York-- took control of the pace while still on
the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, just as they had planned.
Together, the pair would run through 10 kilometers in 34:44 and ten miles in
55:18, despite strong winds. At halfway (1:12:38), their lead over the chase
pack and Jeptoo was a whopping three minutes and 23 seconds.
It was while crossing the Queensboro Bridge (25-K) that Jeptoo had had
enough. When a bicyclist said that the leaders were more than three minutes
in front, the Kenyan decided it was time to go.
"He came and told me that you are behind three minutes. I realized that
three minutes is almost one kilometer, so I started to push the pace," she
said. "I knew, and I was having confidence that I will make it."
Mile by mile, Jeptoo began to reel in Deba and Tufa all by herself. From
miles 16 through 19, Jeptoo cut a minute and ten seconds out of the lead.
Gradually the Ethiopian tandem came into view. By the 35-kilometer
checkpoint, Deba's lead over Jeptoo had dwindled to 45 seconds. A kilometer
later Jeptoo found herself in second and ready to pounce.
As Jeptoo was quickening, Deba was hurting. The 26-year-old had been
struggling with stomach cramps, and feared the inevitable was coming.
Looking back multiple times, Deba saw Jeptoo fast approaching.
The swift pass came with 2:13:00 on the clock with under 2.5 miles
remaining. Deba tried to respond, but simply couldn't.
"I tried to, but I was sick badly, a cramp," Deba said.
After passing Deba, Jeptoo ran alone. Continuing her lanky, kick out running
style over the final miles, legs seemingly pinwheeling under her, the
29-year-old broke the tape in Central Park in 2:25:07. She earned $625,000
in prize money and bonuses.
"I was very, very happy when I saw that I reached to the finish line when I
am a winner, because I use a lot of energy chasing the leading group,"
Deba held on for second place in 2:25:56, her second consecutive runner-up
placing. Rounding out the top three in 2:27:47 was two-time race champion
Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia.
Adriana Nelson of Boulder, Colo., was the top American, 13th in 2:35:05.
Among other notable finishers were New Zealand's Kim Smith in sixth
(2:28:49), early leader Tufa eighth (2:29:24), and defending champion
Firehiwot Dado in 14th (2:38:06).
MUTAI CRUISES IN FINAL MILES, RETAINS CROWN
In the final ten kilometers of today's ING New York City Marathon, Geoffrey
Mutai was a man among boys. After running within a pack for most of the
race, Mutai surged in the 22nd mile, creating enough separation to win his
second title in three years. Breaking the tape in 2:08:24, Mutai became the
sixth man in race history to successfully defend his crown.
"For me to defend my title, I think it has very many meanings," said Mutai,
Through halfway in 1:05:06, nearly all of the pre-race favorites were still
in the picture. Within a pack of 14 were Mutai, Virgin London Marathon
champion Tsegaye Kebede, Olympic and World Championships Marathon gold
medalist Stephen Kiprotich, and 2012 Boston Marathon victor Wesley Korir.
Kilometer by kilometer a majority of the group would remain together,
passing over the Queensboro Bridge and turning onto First Avenue. It was in
the 20th mile when the race would really develop.
With roughly ten kilometers remaining, Mutai put his head down, leaned
forward, and surged. Only Stanley Biwott would stay on the course record
holder's shoulder, a step behind to his left.
Mutai's decision to go came down to the weather.
"I think that was a good area because there was not so much wind," he told
reporters. At the start, a steady wind of 17 milers per hour was recorded.
"So when I was deciding to go, I was feeling okay, the wind was not there.
For me, I was not looking to say I've tried to leave anyone, but I was
focusing at the end."
Racing along Fifth Avenue with just over five kilometers to go, Mutai would
continue to push. Eventually, Biwott faded.
"when I start moving, I don't care if you come or if you stay back because I
say, if you come, you come and we go together, or leave me and go," Mutai
said. "So for me, I am focused. I don't look back. I'm only going to [go]
By the time the finish was in sight, Mutai had built up a large cushion.
Breaking the tape in 2:08:24, the father of two was overjoyed. Mutai said
the win was extra special considering today is his manager Gerard Van de
"He told me I want one thing only, a present for you, and that present is to
win," Mutai said. "I tell him winning is not easy. First of all, to win and
defend your title is not easy. So even today, as you see the course today,
the weather today, it was not easy. Even for me, I try all that I can, but
even I was not believing that I can finish like that. So actually, it says a
lot for me to defend my title."
Behind Mutai, things got very interesting. Though Biwott had gone with Mutai
along Fifth Avenue, the move proved costly. He would fade from second to
fifth in the final miles.
Moving up in the field was Kebede. The tiny Ethiopian, who was in fifth at
mile 23, managed to pass Julius Arile, Biwott, and South African Lusapho
April to finish second in 2:09:16, securing the 2012-2013 World Marathon
Majors title and a $500,000 bonus.
"You know, it is not easy to win World Marathon Majors," said Kebede. "This
is my dream. You know, I don't know... I'm very happy. I'm glad to get to
April placed third, the highest South African finish since 2007.
Today proved to be a tough one for Uganda's Kiprotich, racing his third
marathon of the year. After being among the leaders through 20 miles, the
24-year-old would fade to 12th in 2:13:05. One place behind came top
American Ryan Vail in 2:13:23, followed by Colorado's Jeffrey Eggleston,
14th in 2:16:35.
The 2009 champion here, Meb Keflezighi of San Diego, Calif., had a rough
run. He stopped for several minutes with painful quadriceps muscles on the
Willis Avenue Bridge, before restarting and eventually finishing 20th. He
held the hand of a local runner, Michael Cassidy, as he crossed the finish
line in 2:23:47.
"It wasn't my day but sometimes it happens," Keflezighi said. "I'm satisfied
that I finished."
* * * * *
Although final finisher totals will not be known until tomorrow, the New
York Road Runners reported that 50,740 runners started the race making it
the largest marathon in history.