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Korir, Cherop Win Hot Boston 2012

Wesley Korir wins Boston Marathon 2012

Wesley Korir wins Boston Marathon 2012

BOSTON – (April 16, 2012) – Marathon lore holds that a year with optimal weather conditions is usually followed by one that challenges runners, and that was borne out at the 116th running for Boston Marathon on Monday. Temperatures that warmed the runners with temperatures in the 70s at the start in Hopkinton quickly rose under an unseasonable April sun to the mid- to upper-80s by the time the leaders reached the halfway point, eventually reaching a record 87 degrees.

The result, as expected, was that times were well off most runners’ anticipated goals. That was also gratifying to organizers, who intentionally spent the three days preceding the race warning participants of the possible dangers, encouraging those not in top shape to not run, even taking the step of allowing those who had qualified to defer their entry to 2013. In the end, only 427 of the 26,716 entrants elected to do so, but many of those who toed the line in Hopkinton did not make it to the finish on Boylston Street.

“People were dropping out left and right,” said one runner who finished around 4:30. The attrition rate was above average, with 21,611 of the 22,426 starters succeeding in completing the distance before the course was closed, an hour later than normal in deference to the weather.

What was perhaps somewhat surprising was that the slowdown extended even to the leaders, who are usually more immune to harsh conditions than the less-fit participants behind them.

Wesley Korir, an American-educated Kenyan, used a come-from-behind strategy to edge countryman Levy Matebo by 26 seconds in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 40 seconds, the slowest winning time since Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot’s second win five years ago.

The women’s race once again came down to a finishing sprint down Boylston, with Sharon Cherop holding of fellow Kenyan Jemima Jelagat Sumgong by two seconds. Cherop’s winning time of 2:31:50 was the slowest since Salina Kosgei’s 2:32:16 in 2009. The last four women’s titles at Boston have now been decided by a total margin of eight seconds.

The hot conditions caused both the men and women to run cautiously from the start, with packs of nearly a dozen going through halfway in 1:06 and 1:17 respectively. That resulted in the somewhat unexpected sight of six-foot-three-inch tall American Jason Hartmann in the lead.

“I was just running my race, not doing anything rash,” the Colorado runner said. “And with the weather, no one else was either.”

The real racing began, as it often does in Boston, just past Wellesley, between 14 and 15 miles, with Mathew Kisoro and then Matebo putting in surges that whittled the pack down to a half dozen, including defending champ Geoffrey Mutai. Within a few miles, Mutai’s chances of retaining his title, and potentially a berth on the Kenyan Olympic team, fell victim to the conditions when he was forced to drop out from stomach cramps, the result of drinking more fluids than he was used to.

By the time the third of the three hills in Newton had been climbed, Kisoro had moved away to a lead of nearly 30 seconds and seemed to have the race in hand. But the victory evaporated in the final downhill stretch from Cleveland Circle. Korir, who had ignored most of the surging on the hills, was running in sixth place when he suddenly saw the runner ahead of him getting closer.

“I thought, ‘This is not bad, I can be fifth in the Boston Marathon.’ Then I caught fourth place, and saw third just ahead and thought, ‘Great, I can be on the podium.’ So I just moved up until I found myself in a position to win the race,” recounted Korir.

Korir, 29, moved into first as they crested the Mass Pike overpass by Fenway Park, where the Red Sox were playing the traditional morning Patriots Day game. Matebo responded as they entered Kenmore Square, then Korir took the lead for good just before the duo went underneath Mass Avenue with a mile to go.

Meanwhile, Hartman, running his steady-paced race, was echoing Korir’s success, finally crossing the finish in fourth place, in 2:14:31.

“This was definitely a race of redemption,” he said, referring to his disappointing 2:16:44, 32nd place finish at January’s Olympic Trials in Houston. “I thought I was a contender to make the team, even if was an outside chance. Since that race I’ve had this date circled on my calendar.

“I wasn’t going to let the heat bother me. I feel it’s the same for everyone, and if you worry too much about it, you’re beaten before you start. I wasn’t going to allow myself to fail today.”

Cherop, 28, who placed third in last year’s Boston race, used the lessons she learned there to move to the winner’s spot this year.

“I didn’t know the course that well, so I got to know it better this time,” she said. “I knew how far it was to the finish, when to push.”

She admitted that her significant move on the Newton hills was primarily directed at Firehiwot Dado, the winner of last November’s ING New York City Marathon.

“The Ethiopian girls have a stronger kick than the Kenyans,” she continued. “I did not want to have to try to outsprint her in the final stretch.”

Sheri Piers of Falmouth, Maine joined Hartman as the top American finisher, placing 10th in 2:41:45, not far off her Boston times under better conditions.

“We had a mild winter in New England, but I still did a lot of my workouts on a treadmill in a room that was pretty warm,” said the 40-year-old. “And fortunately I don’t sweat a lot, so the heat didn’t bother me that much today.”

And while most runners’ times were slowed by the heat, the only record set wasn’t just the temperature. In the men’s wheelchair division, Canadian Joshua Cassidy broke the course record by two seconds, zipping across the line in 1:18:25.

Many in the rest of the field weren’t so fortunate. While organizer went to great lengths to caution runners about the hazards of running in hot conditions, and doubled the supply of on-course water, approximately 10 percent of the runners were seen by medical personnel, with 152 being treated at local hospitals.

116th B.A.A. Boston Marathon
Boston, MA, Monday, April 16, 2012

1) Wesley Korir (KEN), 2:12:40, $150,000
2) Levy Matebo (KEN), 2:13:06, $75,000
3) Bernard Kipyego (KEN), 2:13:13, $40,000
4) Jason Hartmann (USA / CO), 2:14:31, $25,000
5) Wilson Chebet (KEN), 2:14:56, $15,000
6) Laban Korir (KEN), 2:15:29, $12,000
7) Michel Butter (NED), 2:16:38, $9000
8) David Barmasai (KEN), 2:17:16, $7400
9) Hideaki Tamura (JPN), 2:18:15, $5700
10) Mathew Kisorio (KEN), 2:18:15, $4200
11) Tim Chichester (USA / NY), 2:21:10, $2600
12) Sergio Reyes (USA / CA), 2:22:06, $2100
13) Brendan Martin (USA / MI), 2:22:32, $1800
14) Gebre Gebremariam (ETH), 2:22:56, $1700
15) Uli Steidl, 40, USA / WA, 2:23:08, $11,500

1) Steidl, see above
2) Franklin Tenorio, 42, ECU, 2:24:04, $5000
3) Tracy Lokken, 46, USA / MI, 2:31:06, $2500
4) Jason Ryf, 41, USA / WI, 2:31:50, $1500
5) Patrick Kuhlmann, 41, USA / DC, 2:32:55, $1000

1) Sharon Cherop (KEN), 2:31:50, $150,000
2) Jemima Jelagat Sumgong (KEN), 2:31:52, $75,000
3) Georgina Rono (KEN), 2:33:09, $40,000
4) Firehiwot Dado (ETH), 2:34:56, $25,000
5) Diana Sigei (KEN), 2:35:40, $15,000
6) Rita Jeptoo (KEN), 2:35:53, $12,000
7) Mayumi Fujita (JPN), 2:39:11, 9000
8) Nadezdha Leonteva (RUS), 2:40:40, $7400
9) Svetlana Pretot, 40, FRA, 2:40:50, $15,700
10) Sheri Piers, 40, USA / ME, 2:41:55, $9200
11) Genet Getaneh (ETH), 2:42:11, $2600
12) Larisa Zyusko, 42, RUS, 2:47:47, $4600
13) Sheila Croft (CAN), 2:48:31, $1800
14) Paula Keating, 45, CAN, 2:48:58, $3200
15) Hilary Dionne (USA / MA), 2:51:56, $1500

1) Leonteva, see above
2) Piers, see above
3) Zyusko, see above
4) Keating, see above
5) Jen Nicholson, 43, CAN, 2:56:01, $1000

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